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.
Here is the full forum: