Catsimatidis & The Lhota “Charade”

Today Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis issued a statement describing competitor Joe Lhota’s most recent round of fundraising as “dismal” and saying that Lhota “should end this charade and drop out of the race now.”  In his statement, Catsimatidis did not mention the fact that Lhota has led in every public opinion poll released on the Republican primary.

We spoke with Catsimatidis today about his statement, at the Richmond County (as in, Staten Island Richmond County for you city folk) Fair.  I began by asking Catsimatidis about his statement referring to Lhota’s campaign as a charade.

Catsimatidis backed away from his characterization of Lhota’s campaign as a “charade”, saying “I didn’t write the press release … I think it was my political people.”  In a less harsh, but similarly ending, approach Catsimatidis suggested that Lhota’s lack of money means an inability to win in November and that Lhota should therefor step aside in favor of Catsimatidis.  Catsimatidis described himself as having done something similar in 2009, saying “I had the nomination uncontested and what did I do?  I backed off and gave the nomination to Michael Bloomberg.”

Republican Mayoral Debate: The Grumpy Edition (Updated)

At tonight’s Republican mayoral candidate debate, hosted by WCBS-TV, 1010 WINS and El Diario La Prensa (available in full here), the three candidates displayed a fair amount of friction.

John Catsimatidis thinks that the New York Post doesn’t like him.

Joe Lhota supports marriage equality, but apparently has no interest in attending your wedding.

Update – George and John are not friends:

Frictions between George McDonald and John Catsimatidis have previously emerged  during the campaign.  In this debate, McDonald strongly rejected the notion that they’re friends, and expanded on that point in his post-debate comments.  While it’s clear that there really is some interpersonal friction, McDonald eventually gets to what appears to be the deeper cause of his frustration.  McDonald regards Catsimatidis as unqualified to be mayor, yet Catsimatidis’s wealth and resulting ability to fund substantial TV advertising nonetheless make him a “serious candidate” while McDonald’s campaign suffocates from lack of money.

Stringer & Comptroller Diversity Issues

As Scott Stringer was endorsed by a group of about 50 clergy from around the city, he touted his plan to appoint a chief diversity officer in the comptroller’s office and to pursue diversity goals for businesses and city agencies.  Seemingly implicit in his plan was the premise that recent comptrollers have not done enough on these goals.  I asked Stringer for his view of how the two most recent comptrollers, John Liu and Bill Thompson, have performed on these issues.

Thompson Endorsement in Williamsburg (Updated x 2)

Bill Thompson received the endorsement of Satmar, and other orthodox, leaders in Williamsburg on Tuesday.

In this report, we look at a protest which occurred during the endorsement press conference.

Update – Extended Video:

This video has extended excerpts from the endorsement press conference.

Update #2 – Thompson re: Metzitzah b’peh:

In this excerpt, Thompson discusses metzitzah b’peh, the circumcision ritual practice that the Bloomberg administration sought to restrict and ultimately imposed parental notification requirements on.  It’s an emotional issue in parts of the orthodox community and candidates are regularly asked about when seeking votes in that community.

Thompson addressed metzitzah b’peh but, while speaking sympathetically, did not say whether he supported continuing, expanding or removing the city’s rules around it.  He only said that he “would be happy to sit down and revisit this issue again.”

Comptroller v. Comptroller

Current New York City Comptroller John Liu has recently stepped up his attacks on his immediate predecessor, two term Comptroller Bill Thompson.  Until recently, the two had largely avoided discussing the other’s performance in the office.  As Liu’s already low poll numbers have weakened, however, he has been attacking Thompson over Thompson’s failure to uncover the CityTime scandal.  (CityTime is a payroll software project that grew in cost by hundreds of millions of dollars due to combination of mismanagement and fraud, and which Liu has actively pursued.)

Public Advocates: Mayor? Who?

The four leading Democratic candidates for Public Advocate speak highly of the current Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio.  None have endorsed him for mayor, however, with only one of the four candidates publicly supporting any mayoral candidate.  (Cathy Guerriero supports Bill Thompson.)  After their televised debate yesterday, we asked all four candidates why.

JoLho v. JCats: 17 Days to Go (Updated x 2)

We spoke with Joe Lhota this morning at a campaign appearance in Howard Beach.  We discussed John Catsimatidis’ negative attack ad, the past rivalry of Lhota’s and Catsimatidis’s best known supporters, Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki, and more.

Update – Precise Polling:

What happens when a pollster calls into a campaign event headlined by a mayoral candidate?  Watch.

Update #2 – Lhota’s Pitch:

Here is Joe Lhota’s speech to the group.

Spitzer’s Harlem Stroll

Eliot Spitzer met with a small group of M/WBE business owners today to discuss the challenges that they face in obtaining city contracts. Afterwards, Spitzer walked down Harlem’s Malcolm X Boulevard, visiting several local businesses along the way.

During the walk, I asked Spitzer about what his family-owned real estate business does to facilitate hiring M/WBE contractors.  His answer was somewhat vague, beginning with “we haven’t built in a couple of years”, with the apparent implication that they would specifically seek, or be able to, to hire M/WBE businesses only as part of construction projects.  Watch.

Stringer Spitzer Slugfest: Round 3 (Updated)

Scott Stringer and Eliot Spitzer fought their way through Round 3 of their televised debates last night, participating in a debate organized by the NYC Campaign Finance Board and broadcast by WCBS-TV (CBS 2).  Moderated by Marcia Kramer, with panelists Rich Lamb and Marlene Peralta, the debate was co-sponsored by WCBS Newsradio 880, 1010 WINS, El Diario/La Prensa, and Common Cause/NY.  They returned to now-familiar jabs at each other (think “resigned … prostitution” and “3rd term”), but still managed to discuss some substance of the office that they’re seeking.  The entire debate is available here.

They also had a few odd moments which have captured media attention.  Moderator Marcia Kramer asked both to sing a line from their favorite song.  Stringer recited the opening line from his favorite (Heroes by David Bowie), while Spitzer named his favorite, but declined to sing or recite (Land of Hope and Dreams by Bruce Springsteen).  (Editorial note: heartily approves of both choices.)  In responding to Rich Lamb’s question of “is there something nice you can say about your opponent”, Scott Stringer tried to give a friendly response, saying “we are definitely going to hang out after” the election and that as part of that “hang out” Spitzer could “help babysit my two kids.”

Stringer Press Q&A:

Here is Scott Stringer’s full Q&A with the press following the debate.  Among the topics discussed: Spitzer’s statement that he would serve for $1 per year if elected, the candidates’ singing ability (it was part of the debate, believe it or not), how his experience may prepare him to manage the very large staff of the comptroller’s office, his views on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the sexual harassment scandals that have occurred in Albany, the revelation that he refers to “Eliot Weiner”, and much more.

Update – Spitzer Press Q&A:

Here is Eliot Spitzer’s full Q&A with the press following the debate.  Among the topics discussed: Stringer’s babysitting invitation, Mayor Bloomberg’s 3rd term, Spitzer’s statement that he would serve for $1 per year if elected and Stringer’s description of Spitzer as living in an “ivory tower.”

Mayoral Debate: It’s Official!

Last night the Democratic mayoral candidates had their first “official” debate.  After more than 100 forums and debates hosted by different groups around the city, and televised debates on NY1 and WABC-TV Channel 7, the Democratic mayoral candidates participated in their first “official” debate organized by the New York City Campaign Finance Board under the city’s election laws.

For our initial report, we look at a question asked by moderator Errol Louis: “Should you be free to drink a beer on your own stoop?”  In some neighborhoods, residents have been ticketed for doing so.  Their anger at being ticketed has been further stoked by pictures of Mayor Bloomberg violating the same prohibition, unticketed, drinking wine at concerts in Central Park.  We spoke with Anthony Weiner on this topic, who offered a broader assessment.

Mayoral Forum: The Queens Co-ops, Condos & Counselors Edition (Updated x 2)

Tonight, the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council of Queens and the Queens County Bar Association co-sponsored a mayoral candidate forum.  Eight candidates attended, appearing before a crowd of 400-500 and answering questions posed by moderator Azi Paybarah.  Attendees included, in order of appearance: Sal Albanese, Joe Lhota, George McDonald, Anthony Weiner, Erick Salgado, Adolfo Carrion, Christine Quinn and John Catsimatidis.

Update #3 – Salgado re: Anthony Weiner & His Ideas:

Erick Salgado discusses Anthony Weiner’s adoption of Salgado’s idea, at least according to Salgado.

Update #2 – Weiner Addresses Audience “Audible Groans”:

As Anthony Weiner went to the podium at last night’s forum, a small wave of groans and discontent rumbled through the audience.  Here is Weiner’s reaction when asked about the audience response.

Update – Something Positive About My Rivals?  Ummm …:

Moderator Azi Paybarah asked all eight candidates a simple, but revealing question:  Can you say something positive, or something interesting that you’ve learned, about any one of your rivals?  The answers range from very warm and friendly to “all about me.”  Watch.

Weiner v. McDonald:
To start our coverage, we have a brief clip of Anthony Weiner and George McDonald crossing paths.  You may recall that Weiner and McDonald had a confrontation at an earlier forum.  McDonald has been highly, and vocally, critical of Weiner and his sexting.

Catsimatidis, Community Safety & Comebacks

John Catsimatidis held a press conference this afternoon to urge New York City Council members to not override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the Community Safety Act.  Catsimatidis was joined by several Republican former elected officials, including former governor George Pataki and former congressman Vito Fossella.

I asked Pataki how he feels about the return of his successor, Eliot Spitzer, to electoral politics.

I asked former congressman Vito Fossella, who resigned in his own sex scandal, for his reaction to the candidacy of Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner.

Public Advocate Candidates Debate, On-Air and Off

In what is likely the only televised Public Advocate primary debate, five Democratic candidates jousted on-air last week.  (Video of the full debate is available here from NY1.)  The race remains both close and out of the public eye, with the most recent public poll (from NBC 4 NY/WSJ/Marist) reporting that 49% of “likely” Democratic primary voters are undecided.  Of the likely voters who have a preferred candidate, it’s 16% for Tish James, 12% for Cathy Guerriero, 12% for Daniel Squadron, 3% for Reshma Saujani and 2% for Sidique Wai.

We spoke with all five candidates after the debate.  Exclusive video, and a short account of each candidate, follows: Continue reading Public Advocate Candidates Debate, On-Air and Off