Malliotakis At QPTC

Mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis visited the Queens Public Transit Committee Wednesday evening, answering questions on a wide range of transportation topics.  The Queens Public Transit Committee is a small but energetic group focused on improving transportation options in Queens, with a focus on South Queens.  Projects that it supports include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line, a long-abandoned Long Island Railroad track that runs to the Rockaway peninsula.

Bingo For Bo

Bingo was over and the seniors heading home when mayoral candidate Bo Dietl arrived at Staten Island’s Arrochar Friendship Club, but he still had a winning visit.  Dietl arrived well past his scheduled 1:00 visit Wednesday.  That would have come mid-bingo, when the room was full, but a delayed Dietl appeared after most of the players had left.  He swirled through the remaining 25 or so, catching some for a handshake as they boarded a bus or made their way toward their car and chatting with a few lingering inside.

Dietl was warmly greeted, recognized by most.  Many offered support and promises to vote for him.  Little mention was made of rival candidate Nicole Malliotakis, who represents the neighborhood in the state assembly.  In conversations with a few attendees they spoke nicely about Malliotakis, but didn’t express an intention to vote for her over Dietl in November.

Photo Gallery:

Our photo gallery is available here.

Dietl On Albanese

“I think it’s time for you to go to the pasture.”  Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl was dismissive of rival mayoral candidate Sal Albanese and Albanese’s victory in Tuesday’s Reform Party primary, suggesting he should end his candidacy.  Albanese was the only candidate listed on the Reform Party ballot, but Dietl and Republican/Conservative candidate Nicole Malliotakis mounted write-in campaigns seeking to take the Reform Party Nomination from the party’s designated candidate.  In preliminary election night results Albanese received 57% of the votes cast, with total write in votes of 43% insufficient to give Dietl or Malliotakis a chance of winning.

In addition to deriding Albanese’s 57% showing in a race in which he was the only candidate on the ballot, Dietl also accused Albanese of colluding with Bill de Blasio to help de Blasio receive primary election matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board.  (The CFB awarded matching funds to de Blasio on a finding that Albanese’s Democratic primary candidacy met the legal threshold of significant competition.)

Albanese’s Reform Party candidacy is an unwelcome complication for Dietl and Malliotakis, adding a third anti-de Blasio candidate who may draw press and voter attention away from their respective campaigns.  They’re already fighting for the same base, as evidenced by this Dietl visit to a senior center in Malliotakis’ assembly district.  That base is not nearly large enough to power a single candidate to victory, and split between Dietl and Malliotakis it leaves both with little ability to pose a real challenge to Mayor de Blasio.  Albanese’s presence further muddles their efforts at establishing themselves as the primary de Blasio opponent, and Dietl’s comments reflect an understanding of that challenge.


Dietl was harshly dismissive of Albanese’s debate performance against Mayor de Blasio, when Dietl and Albanese crossed paths at a Queens candidate forum.

Dietl On ConCon

He’s a no.  Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl opposes holding a state constitutional convention.

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.

Dietl’s expressed view matches that of much of organized labor, opposing a convention on fears that it could result in weakening or eliminating the existing state constitution’s prohibition on reducing public employee pensions.  We spoke during a Dietl visit to Staten Island’s Arrochar Friendship Club.

Lhota Lhessons?

People didn’t know how bad Bill de Blasio would be.  That was the most notable observation I could draw out of current Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis when I asked about her electoral predecessor, 2013 candidate Joe Lhota, and lessons from his campaign.  Lhota, a deeply knowledgable and skilled veteran of City government was crushed by nearly 50 percentage points in 2013.   With some notable similarities between her candidacy and Lhota’s, including running against the same opponent, I asked Malliotakis what would lead her campaign to a different outcome and what lessons she’s gleaned from Lhota’s campaign.

Beyond her initial observation that in 2013 “people didn’t know how bad de Blasio would be” but do now, Malliotakis simply gave a brief recap of her criticisms of the mayor.  Presumably she and her campaign staff have scrutinized the Lhota campaign history for instructive lessons, but she didn’t offer any in this press conference response.


Here’s our exchange:

Malliotakis General Election Kickoff

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis held a press conference today to kickoff her general election campaign.  Speaking outside St. Mary Gate of Heaven church in Ozone Park Malliotakis laid out her broad campaign themes and parried repeated questions focused on the many electoral challenges she faces.  Malliotakis became the undisputed Republican and Conservative nominee several weeks ago, without having to face any opponents in a primary, but with the Democratic primary yesterday formally establishing Mayor Bill de Blasio as the Democratic nominee the general election season informally began today.

Malliotakis sought to turn Mayor de Blasio’s own campaign rhetoric on him, saying de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” is alive but is now a tale of “one city for [de Blasio’s] donors and friends and another city for everybody else.”  Somewhat awkwardly saying that she’s running “to give voice to the everybody else” Malliotakis catalogued New Yorkers who she expects will support her, including those paying higher property taxes, victims of sex crimes, transit riders enduring increased delays, homeless not sufficiently helped by the City, families whose children are insufficiently educated in City schools and families whose children are on charter school waiting lists.

She paired the laundry list of concerns she sees as burdening New Yorkers with a promise to focus on them, saying she’s “not in this race to fight an ideological war” or to “raise a national profile to run for president.”


Here is the full press conference:

Dietl Votes, Reform Party Edition

Mayoral candidate Bo Dietl cast his first campaign vote this morning, writing in his name in the Reform Party mayoral primary.  Sal Albanese is the only candidate whose name appears on the Reform Party ballot, but Dietl and rival candidate Nicole Malliotakis are each mounting write-in campaigns aimed at wresting the Reform Party line from the Party leadership’s chosen candidate.  They’re able to do so because “opportunity to ballot” petitions were filed with the Board of Elections, creating the write-in spot on the ballot and opening the party primary to registered voters who are not in any party.  (A Gotham Gazette background report is available here.)  Continue reading Dietl Votes, Reform Party Edition

Photo Gallery: Cuomo & The Memorial Ride

Governor Andrew Cuomo joined the September 11th Memorial Ride yesterday, leading the last segment of a motorcycle ride commemorating the people killed in the September 11th attacks.  That final segment retraces the route of the FDNY’s Rescue Company 1 that dark day from their West 43rd Street quarters to the World Trade Center, where 11 of their members perished.  Approximately 500 riders joined in, with many coming in three large groups from Albany, Ulster and Nassau counties.

Cuomo headlined a pre-ride lunch at the Javits Center, joined by Robert De Niro.

Photo Gallery:

Our full photo gallery is available here.

Photo Gallery: 2017 Labor Day Parade

Labor leaders and the politicians who court them marched up Fifth Avenue today, leading the Labor Day Parade.  Virtually all senior members of New York City’s organized labor movement attended, including Mario Cilento (president of the NYS AFL-CIO), Gary LaBarbera (president of the Buildings & Trades Council), Vinnie Alvarez (president of the NYC Central Labor Council), Mike Mulgrew (president of the United Federation of Teachers), Randi Weingarten (president of the American Federation of Teachers), George Miranda (president of Teamsters Joint Council 16), Stuart Appelbaum (president of RWDSU), George Gresham (president of 1199) and Grand Marshall Edgar Romney of Workers Unite.  Politicians marching included Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis also made a brief appearance.

Photo Gallery:

Our full photo gallery is available here.

Columbus & Capalino, Not Dietl

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis held a press conference this afternoon in Columbus Circle, calling on Mayor de Blasio to make clear his personal position on whether the statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed and condemning what she termed pay-to-play by the mayor with lobbyist and supporter James Capalino.  Positing that she would only address “on-topic” questions, Malliotakis had little to say when asked about allegations by rival candidate Bo Dietl that her campaign submitted improper petitioning documents to the Board of Elections.

Declaring that “it is completely outrageous” that Mayor de Blasio will not say whether he supports removing the statue of Columbus, Malliotakis demanded that he state his position before the Democratic primary on Tuesday.  Malliotakis repeated her position that the statue should remain, adding later that she would not convene the commission the mayor has announced to review “symbols of hate” on City property.  She said that she could support adding a descriptive plaque near the Columbus statue and that she is open to a memorial honoring the “indigenous people” harmed and displaced by Columbus.

Malliotakis regularly offers harsh criticism of the mayor, but unlike some of the other mayoral candidates virtually always focuses on his job performance and policies.  In an unusually personal and harsh written statement issued in connection with her press conference, however, Malliotakis said “I really think Bill de Blasio should go back to using his birth name of Warren Wilhelm, because he obviously doesn’t have the heart and soul of an Italian.”  (She did not make that statement during the press conference.)

Malliotakis also criticized the mayor’s engagement with lobbyist James Capalino, focusing on his involvement in a project to build a 47 story tower on the grounds of the Upper East Side’s Stanley Isaacs Houses.  She also attacked as “pathetic” de Blasio’s recent op-ed defending himself against pay-to-play complaints.


Here is the full press conference:

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.”