Celeste Katz of the Daily News today reported that former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis is, so far, unwilling to endorse Republican primary victor Joe Lhota. Among other comments, Catsimatidis is reported as saying “[d]eep down inside, I feel he doesn’t like me, and if he doesn’t like me, that’s why I’ve held back.”
I asked Lhota about Catsimatidis’ comments, and whether it is a problem that his rival has not supported him, all as Bill de Blasio brings his former rivals onboard. Lhota gave a lengthy description of their contacts from primary night, including phone calls, texts and a breakfast. He also tried to be friendly toward Catsimatidis, exclaiming “what’s not to like about John Catsimatidis”, but also saying “I don’t understand why he makes such disparaging remarks about me.”
We spoke this morning at a reception for “King of Queens” honorees.
We spoke with Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis as he wrapped up his last primary campaign appearance. We began by asking him whether running has been what he expected, or whether there have been any surprises. We also spoke about his spending and whether, without yet knowing the election outcome, he would have changed any tactics.
Republican mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis participated in a televised debate today, hosted by WNBC-TV and co-sponsored by NBC 4 New York, The Wall Street Journal and Telemundo Nueva York. It was a friction-filled face-off, with the candidates down to the last 48 hours of the campaign.
We have video from the candidates’ post-debate media availabilities.
We spoke with John Catsimatidis this afternoon concerning the comments of Mayor Michael Bloomberg published today in New York Magazine. That’s Matthew Chayes of Newsday you’ll hear questioning Catsimatidis.
John Catsimatidis has aggressively used the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in his campaign advertising. His ad, Got It, features a former Port Authority Police Inspector attacking Joe Lhota for recently referring to the Port Authority police as “Mall Cops”, while invoking the memory of the 37 Port Authority police officers who died on September 11th. Catsimatidis uses a similar attack in his ad Not Even Close.
Catsimatidis’ use of September 11th is the most aggressive of any New York political ad and is a marked departure from the practice of most candidates over the past 12 years. I asked Catsimatidis whether he thinks it’s troubling or problematic for candidates to use September 11th in political advertising.
Catsimatidis’ ads have some additional layers of irony. First, Joe Lhota was Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor during the attack and it’s aftermath, going to the World Trade Center before the second plane hit and accompanying Giuliani that morning. Giuliani, of course, was lionized for his response. Catsimatidis professes to be “friends with Rudy”, but attacks his rival on a topic that his rival’s former boss is widely acclaimed for. Second, Giuliani and his administration had a long history of tangling with the Port Authority. The PA is an agency that mayors love to hate as it operates major parts of New York City’s infrastructure with no mayoral control and a shared gubernatorial control (with the New Jersey governor) that provides only partial power to the New York governor. Should Catsimatidis become mayor, he may find himself in an adversarial relationship with the Port Authority. Finally, although Catsimatidis professes to “love all people”, the former Port Authority Police Inspector featured in his ad has been reported as making hateful statements on Facebook and elsewhere.
At the press conference, Courtney Gross of NY1 asked Catsimatidis about the news that David Koch and his wife Julia have contributed $290,000 to a PAC supporting Joe Lhota. (David Koch (pronounced “Coke”), and his brother Charles, are major funders of right-wing political groups.) Here’s how Catsimatidis responded.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The three Republican mayoral candidates faced off in a debate hosted by WABC-TV, and co-sponsored by Noticias 41 Univision, the Daily News and the League of Women Voters. John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota and George McDonald agreed on many issues and had a civil, friction-free debate. (Some prior debates and forums, including a debate broadcast on NY1 on July 10th, have featured more fraught interactions.) The debate was held on Friday, August 10th and will be broadcast on Sunday August 12th.
We spoke with each of the candidates immediately after the debate. (Full video after the jump.) Continue reading →