“Mailer was never one to diminish his own potential in areas outside of his expertise. The Brooklyn-raised provocateur had toyed with the idea of running for mayor in 1961, before New York crashed down from the heights of its post-World War II boom. Eight years later, New York was no longer the metropolis the author had imagined leading in earlier that decade. The nation’s largest city was losing population and jobs, and faced a new reality of municipal strife and street-level tension. With the city’s fortunes dwindling, glitz and glamor had given way to conflict and crisis.
“Mailer and his intellectual cohort believed that he possessed a much-needed quality lacking in his potential rivals. To deliver Gotham from the grips of tumult would take imagination. After heated debate over Mailer’s credentials, the room came to an agreement. Jimmy Breslin would join Mailer and run for City Council president. As a running mate, the forty-year-old Queens-born journalist, an Irish Catholic from a lower-middle-class household, would balance the ticket, and attract his coreligionists from similar neighborhoods to a candidacy headed by the Jewish, brainy, and unapologetically inflammatory Mailer.
“On May 1, 1969, the two entered their names in the Democratic primary election for mayor and city council president. Their campaign promoted radical solutions to the issues facing the five boroughs, advocating decentralization and local control. This cause célèbre lined up with a movement taking place across the five boroughs. Mailer and Breslin took that trend several steps further, deciding that New York City should become the fifty-first state of the union, with each of its unique neighborhoods becoming its own municipality. Their platform became known by a simple shorthand phrase: “The 51st State.”” (Tennen)
Consistent with their platform, the map shows only the City’s five boroughs, divorced, as it were, from the rest of New York State, with each neighborhood highlighted by a small pictorial vignette.
Both Mailer and Breslin performed dismally in the polls, getting trounced in their Democratic primaries. The mayoral election was eventually won by incumbent John Lindsay, who was forced to run on the Liberal Party ticket after losing in the Republican primary.