On Topic Only (Updated)

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis today adopted a move favored by Mayor de Blasio, seeking to limit press questions to “on topic” only.  At a truncated Columbus Circle press conference this afternoon Malliotakis sought to restrict questions to her chosen two topics; Mayor de Blasio’s unclear position on removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus and his, in her view, insufficient addressing of pay-to-play allegations.

Yesterday rival candidate Bo Dietl issued a statement referring to Malliotakis as a “criminal,” alleging that her campaign submitted petitions to the Board of Elections with a false certification on the number of signatures included on those petitions.  (The petitions are for an additional, self-created ballot line, “Fix Transit Now.”)  When I asked Malliotakis about that allegation today she responded with a mashup of replies, first saying that she would “stay on topic today,” then dismissing Dietl’s assertion as “outrageous” and “ridiculous” and ending by saying “there’s no comment on that … it’s frivolous” as her staffer moved to end the press conference.  She included a denial of the circumstances surrounding the filing of those petitions, however, saying “I don’t honestly, I don’t know those petitions were filed, and if we didn’t have a sufficient number then they were kicked off.”

The attempted “on-topic” restriction was unusual for Malliotakis.  She’s generally open to questions, holding fairly lengthy press conferences without topic limits.  She has also been quite accommodating to me throughout her campaign, regularly answering questions on-camera without restriction.  It’s unclear why she sought a topic restriction today, including whether it was specifically to avoid discussing the Dietl allegations.

Bo Greetings

Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl had mixed results as he sought out Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio ahead of the West Indian Day Parade this morning.  Cuomo and de Blasio lined up separately for the parade, with Cuomo doing a brief press Q&A before marching.

As Cuomo walked toward the waiting press Dietl called out “we love Governor Cuomo”, drawing a finger point and “ohhh, Bo.”  “Democrat Bo” replied Dietl.  As Cuomo and the Rev. Al Sharpton stood waiting to march Dietl moved in, drawing a “what’s up Bo” from Sharpton as they exchanged a handshake and kiss.  (“I know Al Sharpton 40 years … I regard him as a friend” Dietl said afterwards.)  A smiling Cuomo looked toward Dietl, shook his hand and kept smiling as he turned away.

Dietl moved on to de Blasio, waiting for a moment as the mayor posed for a picture.  “Mr. Mayor, no Columbus, come on, no Columbus” he called out, drawing a mayoral smile and quick handshake.  A silent Chirlane McCray, Mayor de Blasio’s wife, smiled wanly and gave a small flick of her flag as Dietl reached past her to take the mayor’s hand.

Cuomo & Columbus

Governor Andrew Cuomo offered a lengthy defense of honoring Christopher Columbus this morning, arguing that the Columbus Circle statue of Columbus and the Columbus Day Parade are more about honoring Italian-American heritage than Columbus himself.  Tying the discussion about Columbus to the broad theme of celebrating diversity and the celebrations of other cultures, Cuomo rejected the notion of removing the Columbus statue.  Acknowledging that Columbus did “bad acts to indigenous people,” Cuomo rejected the effort at removal as excessive.  He offered a counter concern of “where do you stop, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington … who is without sin” while saying that “the indigenous people should be celebrated.”

Dietl & Malliotakis On DACA

Rival mayoral candidates Bo Dietl and Nicole Malliotakis support continuation of DACA, and oppose President Trump’s expected termination of the program.  I spoke with Dietl, running on a self-created line in the general election, and Malliotakis, the Republican and Conservative Party nominee, just before today’s West Indian Day Parade.


Dietl said that he’s “totally against” the ending of DACA.  Voicing support for the DACA applicants, Dietl declared that “we gotta bring ’em into our system” and called for a path to citizenship.



Malliotakis condemned any presidential action removing the DACA protections.  Noting that there has not been any White House announcement yet, Malliotakis was nonetheless clear that she would oppose any significant reduction or elimination of DACA’s protections.   She urged Congress to act and “put[] forward some type of path for legalization and citizenship.”  She also urged Congress to act more broadly to improve the immigration system.

Cuomo Gaggle

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the press this morning, just before marching in the West Indian Day Parade.

Governor Cuomo began with a lengthy statement celebrating diversity and condemning President Trump’s expected end to DACA, with the consequence of a move toward deporting hundreds of thousands of people who unlawfully came to America as children.  Cuomo’s emotional defense of immigrants included a statement that New York will sue to stop any ending of DACA and move toward deporting the “Dreamers.”  Cuomo took four questions, one on the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle, one on what he would do concerning DACA and state lawsuits opposing elimination if he were president and two on whether he’ll endorse Mayor de Blasio in next week’s Democratic primary.

Concerning Columbus, Cuomo replied at length touting the role of Columbus in the heritage of Italian-Americans and urging restraint in focusing on faults of historical figures.  He confirmed that he’s opposed to removal of the Columbus statue.  On his actions if he was  president Cuomo said that he would continue DACA.  He sought to avoid discussion of the Democratic primary, saying that since he doesn’t vote in the City he doesn’t have any primary endorsements “at this time.”  (He nonetheless had endorsed candidates in other races for the upcoming primary.)

Cuomo Cold Shoulder

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave Mayor Bill de Blasio yet another political cold shoulder today, brushing off the possibility of endorsing de Blasio for reelection just a week ahead of the Democratic mayoral primary.  de Blasio was an energetic supporter of Cuomo in his 2014 reelection, publicly supporting him as early as May and energetically helping Cuomo win the support of the Working Families Party.  Speaking with reporters ahead of the West Indian Day Parade today, Cuomo avoided any mention of de Blasio in reply to questions from NY1’s Grace Rauh and the Daily News’ Erin Durkin,  declaring that as a Westchester resident “I’m not voting in this election so I don’t have any primary endorsements at this time.”

Dietl Calls On Malliotakis To Drop Out

Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl, running on a self-created ballot line, called on Republican/Conservative mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis to withdraw from the race.  Dietl issued a press release and spoke at a candidate forum last night urging his rival to end her candidacy.  We spoke at length with Dietl after the forum; video excerpts of our conversation are below.

Malliotakis’ withdrawal would significantly help Dietl, but it’s extremely unlikely to happen.  Dietl and Malliotakis each dramatically trail Mayor Bill de Blasio in public polls, with both of them barely into double digit support.  Either ending their candidacy would help the other, but there’s little incentive for Malliotakis to do so.

Dietl mostly offered that he’s better able to defeat de Blasio as his main argument for Malliotakis to withdraw.  He gave a brief policy-based argument, saying that Malliotakis opposed a minimum wage increase, opposed same-sex marriage and opposed MTA funding and is therefor out of synch with the majority of New York voters.  He also criticized her participation in the City’s campaign matching funds program.  Finally, Dietl had harsh criticism of New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox.


Here’s an edited version of our exchange.  We spoke just after Dietl’s appearance at a Bay Terrace candidate forum.

Bo & Sal

“Hey Sal, boy he bitch-slapped you the other night” is rarely a good greeting for a a mayoral candidate, but that’s how mayoral candidate Sal Albanese was greeted by fellow mayoral candidate Bo Dietl last night outside a candidate forum hosted by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. Diet had just finished a NYTrue.com interview when Albanese walked past, headed in to the forum.  Diet called out in a friendly voice but with a message undoubtedly displeasing to Albanese, focused on Albanese’s on-on-one debate Wednesday with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Stop with that, we did pretty well”replied Albanese as they shook hands.  “We don’t do violence” thumped Albanese as he turned and continued in after Dietl lamented Albanese failing to give de Blasio a “right hook.”  “He needs a little violenceatation” countered a smiling Dietl.  (Dietl once dismissed rival candidate Paul Massey as not having “enough umpatation.”)

Here’s a look:

Malliotakis Press Conference: Rivington House

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis and Republican public advocate candidate J.C. Polanco held a press conference today in front of Rivington House, the former nursing home entangled in a de Blasio administration scandal.  Malliotakis and Polanco sought to draw renewed attention to the tangled tale of Rivington House and to the relationship of Mayor de Blasio and lobbyist Jame Capalino.  Capalino was a key figure in the elimination of Rivington House deed restrictions that opened the possibility of a for-profit real estate project at Rivington House.

Question topics included Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that he’ll convene a commission to review removing public art honoring Confederate and other figures, the Democratic mayoral candidate debate to be held tonight and Malliotakis’ pledge to release her assembly emails.

Here is the full press conference:

Dietl For Faulkner

Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl offered a seemingly impromptu endorsement of Republican comptroller candidate Michel Faulkner last night.  Both candidates had just exited a candidate forum at St. John’s University, with Dietl headed off after speaking to a few reporters.  As Faulkner stepped forward to speak with the press Dietl returned and made his statement.

Faulkner did not reciprocate with an endorsement of Dietl’s independent candidacy.  After ending his mayoral campaign and switching to the comptroller’s race Faulkner initially endorsed Paul Massey.  He has not formally endorsed Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis, but he has expressed support for her.  At a joint August 4th press conference Faulkner said that “we all hope and pray [that Malliotakis] will be our next mayor.”

Dietl Punch

Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl said he would like to punch Mayor Bill de Blasio, although he later tried to minimize the literalness of his comment.  A candidate forum hosted by the Queens Tribune and St. John’s University Tuesday night included a “lightning round” question asking which council member or citywide elected official each candidate would most and least like to be stuck in an elevator with.  Dietl named de Blasio as the official he would most like to be stuck in an elevator with “so I could punch him.”  When asked afterwards (by the Post‘s Rich Calder) about his comment Dietl offered that “you can’t talk violence,” but proceeded to describe his disdain for de Blasio.

Malliotakis On Statues

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis was critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s intention to create a commission to consider removing statues and other public art honoring Confederate soldiers and other public figures whose actions are regarded as dishonorable.  Responding to a series of questions from Erin Durkin of the Daily News and Yoav Gonen of the Post, Malliotakis asserted that de Blasio’s announced intention has “caused tremendous division in our City” and that he’s acted solely to seek publicity.  She later said, however, that de Blasio should not have announced his intended review, but instead should have had “individuals quietly go around the City” to look at and consider public art for removal.

Malliotakis also criticized de Blasio’s stated 90 day goal for the review, noting that the timeframe places completion after November’s election.  She demanded that any such review be completed and announced before the election.  Asked for her view on several specific statues Malliotakis said that she believes the statue of Christopher Columbus (who she errantly referred to as “the founder of our nation”) in Columbus Circle should stay.

Malliotakis On Dem Debate

She’ll be watching.  Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis was an emphatic “yes” when I asked whether she plans to watch the Democratic mayoral debate tonight between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sal Albanese.  Urging “everyone in the City to watch,” Malliotakis cast the debate as the “beginning of holding Mayor Bill de Blasio accountable” with the public able to see “what’s happening in this City.”

Here’s our exchange:

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