The Republican mayoral primary rolled through Queens Village Sunday as America’s oldest Republican club held its annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Over 300 people attended, lamenting the perceived faults of the de Blasio administration and hoping for a path to ending that administration. Candidate Michel Faulkner and prospective candidate John Catsimatidis spoke during the dinner, while candidate Paul Massey attended the cocktail hour but did not address the crowd, departing before the dinner began. 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino also attended the cocktail hour, but departed without addressing the crowd.
With a long list of speakers and honorees, the dinner program limited the mayoral candidates to about 5 minutes each. Faulkner took full advantage of his short time, launching into a fiery denunciation of Mayor de Blasio with a “dump de Blasio chant” and a declaration of “desperate times” in both the country and the city. He breezed past his campaign finance difficulties, proclaiming that he’s “in it to win it.” He closed by quoting Donald Trump; unlike Paul Massey and prospective candidate Eric Ulrich, Faulkner is an enthusiastic Trump supporter.
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.
Like a blooming sign of spring, the nascent Republican mayoral primary continued emerging this week, with a candidate forum last night. Hosted by the Columbia University College Republicans, the forum featured four candidates: Darren Aquino, Michel Faulkner, Paul Massey and Eric Ulrich.
The forum was a “compare and contrast,” rather than a mix-it-up/toe-to-toe, style. Each candidate was asked each question seriatim, with little direct interaction among the candidates. It’s a less dramatic format, but useful in this early “getting to know you” stage. The audience of about 75 people was attentive but mostly silent in the soaring rotunda of Columbia’s Low Library.
Aquino is an actor and self-described “national advocate for disabled” who has not had any significant previous visibility in the race. His January campaign finance filing reported raising $1,000, with $542 on hand. Faulkner and Massey are both declared candidates who have been running energetically for months, with their most recent appearances being Wednesday night at a Bronx County Republican dinner. Ulrich, a member of the City Council and the only Republican candidate with government experience, is registered with the Campaign Finance Board as a candidate for an “undeclared” city office. He’s effectively running at the moment, albeit at a somewhat reduced pace and without a full commitment, appearing at some political events while he considers whether to fully move ahead and formally declare himself a mayoral candidate. That decision is likely in the next couple of weeks.
John Catsimatidis, a wealthy businessman who lost to Joe Lhota in the 2013 Republican primary, is also considering a run but did not appear at this forum. Like Ulrich he’s appearing at some political events but hasn’t announced his candidacy. (Unlike Ulrich, he has not registered with the Campaign Finance Board.) Catsimatidis recently said that he expects to make a decision on running by late March or early April.
It was dinner with the 1%. Not that 1%, but the 1% of New York City voters registered as Bronx Republicans. The not-quite 40,000 registered Bronx Republicans comprise less than 1% of New York City’s registered voters and don’t have any New York City or New York State elected officials, but they hosted an energetic dinner last night featuring two mayoral candidates and one prospective candidate.
Cast by Bronx County Republican Chairman Mike Rendino as kicking off the 2017 Republican mayoral race, the dinner featured appearances by candidates Paul Massey and Michel Faulkner and possible candidate John Catsimatidis. Among the three hundred or so attendees were Republican State Chairman Ed Cox, Republican County chairs from Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island and New York City’s two Republican members of the New York State Assembly, Staten Islanders Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina.
Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey is having a tough time connecting with the Republican party faithful, despite some strengths as a candidate and support among the party leadership. While “masses” may overstate the 60,000 or so Republicans scattered across the city who may actually vote on primary day it’s still a sizable group that Massey will need to persuade.
There are immediately apparent similarities between Massey and Michael Bloomberg: each is a wealthy self-made man who created and ran his own business, was born and raised in the Boston area, oozes self-confidence and discipline and chose New York City mayor as his first political race. Resembling a successful well-regarded past mayor is a good starting point for a new candidate. The downside for Massey is that Bloomberg, while now ever-more highly regarded as Republicans chafe under a de Blasio administration, was never really loved by the Republican rank and file and his Bloombergesque profile, at this early stage, appears to leave many Republican Party faithful cold. The operatic Rudy Giuliani, rather than the emotionless Michael Bloomberg, is the mayor these Republicans love. Massey may be a more personable and warm version of Bloomberg, but he’s nonetheless much more Bloomberg than Giuliani.
Republican mayoral candidates Paul Massey and Michel Faulkner appeared at a candidate forum hosted by the Brooklyn Republican Committee last night. The candidates appeared separately for just under an hour each, with time allotted for a speech, questions submitted via social media, audience questions and press questions. An audience of 60-70 people listened closely, responding positively to both candidates although more enthusiastically to Faulkner.
Sitting in the audience was New York State Conservative Party Chairman and Brooklynite Mike Long. Long said that he does not yet personally support any mayoral candidate and that he was there to listen. Long also said that his party is also not yet at a decision point for selecting a mayoral candidate, adding that Massey, Faulkner and John Catsimatidis have expressed interest in receiving the party’s support.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. A day after stumbling in his initial press conference Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey tried to overcome that old saw, attempting a campaign restart with a modest piece of good news. He traveled to a far corner of Staten Island Thursday for a press conference announcing his first endorsement from an elected official, Assembly Member Ron Castorina.
Plenty. That sums up Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey’s response when asked how much of his own money he’ll put into his campaign. He’s already put a substantial amount of his own money in, but wouldn’t give any commitment or specificity on how much he’ll put in when I asked.
In his first campaign finance report, filed in mid-January, Massey reported significant fundraising of $1.6 million. He also reported spending $1.9 million, producing a net deficit of $300,000 before accounting for his personal loans to his campaign of $1.27 million. Absent a dramatic change in his already strong fundraising or in spending, Massey will need to continue providing significant personal funding for his campaign. Massey, who has previously said that he’s unable to fully fund his campaign, would only say “[w]e will never lack for resources.”
New York City’s Republican county leaders are seeking to avoid a mayoral primary by uniting behind a single candidate in the coming weeks. It’s an appealing idea to candidates and supporters, so long as they or their candidate is the chosen one, but it can pose a bit of a quandary for candidates. They’re understandably loath to publicly consider the prospect of another candidate receiving united party support and to contemplate a premature end to their candidacy.
Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey punted when I asked him about those Republican party efforts and whether he would continue his candidacy if a rival candidate receives unified party support, replying “I wouldn’t speculate on that.” There’s an added twist for Massey, who has already received the support of the New York State Independence Party, as he could readily end up on the general election ballot as the Independence Party candidate running against both a Democratic candidate and a Republican candidate. He was far more committal on that possibility, declaring “I think the answer is yes. I’m in, I’m all in.”
Here’s my exchange with Massey at a Staten Island press conference yesterday:
Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey says he supports a state constitutional convention. Massey appeared unfamiliar with the question, but expressed support after a brief description during a press conference today on Staten Island.
The 2017 general election will present voters with a ballot question of whether to hold such a constitutional convention, often referred to as a “ConCon.” The state constitution requires that voters be presented with such a ballot question every 20 years; it was voted down in 1997 and 1977. Should voters approve a ConCon, convention delegates would be elected in the 2018 general election and the convention would convene in the spring of 2019.
Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey has some Staten Island roots, both personal and professional. I asked the Boston-born Manhattanite/Westchesterite about his connections to Staten Island today as he appeared in Tottenville to receive the endorsement of Assembly Member Ron Castorina.
Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey held his first press conference today, launching harsh attacks on Mayor Bill de Blasio and sparring with the press. Massey has been in a slow launch of his campaign, with a limited number of public appearances and no press conferences until today.
Speaking on the steps of City Hall, Massey read a lengthy prepared statement focused on the reported six ongoing investigations examining various actions of Mayor de Blasio and his administration. Declaring that de Blasio “is corrupt” and has “sold out New Yorkers”, Massey urged that a seventh investigation begin to examine the mayor’s plan to create a legal defense fund to pay his personal counsel and seek outside contributions for that fund. Massey said that he has written to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance calling for such an investigation.