Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey sought to again relaunch his campaign, with a visit today to Kissena Farms Kosher Supermarket in Flushing billed as part of a five day series of visits to the five boroughs “formally launch[ing]” his campaign. His visit included his third press conference and a cameo by Queens Republican County Chairman Bob Turner, but omitted typical elements of a campaign launch such as cheering supporters, family or a symbolically important backdrop.
Massey arrived early and stood smiling and chatting with Turner as shoppers moved past them. A few asked what was going on, but the majority rolled past pushing their cart and getting their list out. Massey and the store manager then did a lap of the outer aisles, chatting about the products they passed, the grocery business and the upcoming holidays. Massey greeted a few shoppers, but he mostly walked past them seemingly absorbed in his conversation with the store manager.
Queens County Republican Chairman Bob Turner supports mayoral candidate Paul Massey, although he’s not ready to describe it as “a formal endorsement.” Turner joined Massey at a press conference today in Flushing, dubbed by the Massey campaign as “formally launching” his campaign. “I am supporting Mr. Massey, but this is short of a formal endorsement” said Turner when I asked Massey whether he has Turner’s support or endorsement. Turner had stood off to the side watching as Massey held his press conference, not joining him at the lectern. (When I spoke with Turner on March 2nd, he seemed supportive of Massey, but was not nearly as direct.)
In a conversation with Turner afterwards he emphasized that the Queens Republican organization has not yet endorsed or supported Massey, although he expects a decision on whether to do so in “less than a month.” Turner appeared quite optimistic on the effort by the five New York York City Republican county chairs at uniting behind a single candidate. Doing so, presuming Massey is their choice, may discourage Eric Ulrich (the only New York City or New York State Republican elected official representing Queens) or John Catsimatidis from entering the race or encourage Michel Faulkner to end his campaign.
Will an effort by New York City’s five Republican County chairs to avoid a mayoral primary by uniting behind a single mayoral candidate succeed? It’s possible, but some of the county chairs are publicly skeptical. Beyond the initial challenge of agreeing on a single candidate, should such agreement occur the county chairs and organizations can’t prevent other candidates from running. They can cajole, try to convince and pressure candidates, but candidates will have the opportunity to petition on to the primary ballot regardless of county organization preferences.
Queens County Chairman Bob Turner expressed that view tonight, affirming that the county chairs would like to unite but acknowledging that it’s beyond their direct power. In a brief conversation last night Brooklyn County Chairman Ted Ghorra similarly lauded the goal of uniting but expressed doubt about it happening and emphasized the importance of voters having a chance to hear from all interested candidates. In late January and early February Manhattan County Chairwoman Adele Malpass expressed more enthusiasm for the effort, saying she was hopeful that it would conclude by late March or early April.
Turner told me tonight that he will “probably” personally endorse a mayoral candidate and that he expects to do so in about two weeks. He would not say who he’ll support but it’s my guess (and that’s really just a guess) that he’ll go with Paul Massey.
Video – Here’s what Turner had to say following a Paul Massey appearance at the Queens Village Republican Club:
Former Congressman Bob Turner hosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Republican comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci this afternoon for a press conference at Turner’s home in Breezy Point. Astorino focused on a favored theme: that Governor Andrew Cuomo has wrongfully used approximately $40 million of Hurricane Sandy relief funding for thinly disguised political ads promoting Cuomo.
Turner, elected to replace Anthony Weiner, was winding down his one term in Congress when Sandy struck. More than 100 homes, including Turner’s, were destroyed by a fire that raged through Breezy Point as Sandy’s storm surge struck. The homes behind Astorino, Antonacci and Turner are newly rebuilt, replacing some of the homes destroyed by that fire.
During the Q&A portion of the press conference (which begins at about 4:00) I asked Astorino questions about other Sandy-related topics, including his view of the overall response to Sandy by New York State government and whether he would do anything differently concerning the NYS Department of Financial Services and it’s regulation of insurance companies, which he would control as governor. Astorino appeared unwilling, or unable, to move on to other Sandy-related topics, staying focused on Governor Cuomo’s use of federal relief money for TV advertising. The Q&A began with my question of why Astorino’s fellow Republicans, in the state senate, have permitted Cuomo’s use of Sandy money as condemned by Astorino.
Note: Astorino held a separate press conference this morning, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout, available here.
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