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.
John Catsimatidis is not a candidate, not having registered with the Campaign Finance Board, but he’s very much acting like one. He’s been speaking at Republican dinners, publicly mulling his approaching decision of whether to run. Catsimatidis’ remarks last night were a jumbled mix of pro-Trump sentiment, saying that “God put his hand [on the 2016 election] and saved America,” and urging the importance of selecting a Republican candidate who can appeal to Democrats. He unhappily noted the announcement last week that the U.S. Attorney and the Manhattan D.A. will not file any criminal charges in their investigations of Mayor de Blasio. Unlike the electric Rev. Faulkner, Catsimatidis muddled into an abrupt ending as his time ran out.
Eric Ulrich, the Republican Council Member from Queens, did not attend. He’s been contemplating a mayoral run, but there’s lots to suggest that he will not run. Among those indicators are an absence of any meaningful fundraising and his limited visibility on the candidate circuit, this dinner included.
The gathered Republicans were united in their disdain for Mayor de Blasio and a desire to unseat him. They didn’t appear united, so far at least, in how to achieve that. Party leaders seem inclined towards supporting Paul Massey, but several other attendees I spoke with offered discomfort with Massey’s stated policy positions. There’s also still uncertainty around what electoral choices these primary voters will have, with the seemingly likely candidate John Catsimatidis and the seemingly unlikely candidate Eric Ulrich still floating around outside the circle of declared candidates.
Video – Mayoral Candidate Speeches: