John Catsimatidis has aggressively used the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in his campaign advertising. His ad, Got It, features a former Port Authority Police Inspector attacking Joe Lhota for recently referring to the Port Authority police as “Mall Cops”, while invoking the memory of the 37 Port Authority police officers who died on September 11th. Catsimatidis uses a similar attack in his ad Not Even Close.
Catsimatidis’ use of September 11th is the most aggressive of any New York political ad and is a marked departure from the practice of most candidates over the past 12 years. I asked Catsimatidis whether he thinks it’s troubling or problematic for candidates to use September 11th in political advertising.
Catsimatidis’ ads have some additional layers of irony. First, Joe Lhota was Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor during the attack and it’s aftermath, going to the World Trade Center before the second plane hit and accompanying Giuliani that morning. Giuliani, of course, was lionized for his response. Catsimatidis professes to be “friends with Rudy”, but attacks his rival on a topic that his rival’s former boss is widely acclaimed for. Second, Giuliani and his administration had a long history of tangling with the Port Authority. The PA is an agency that mayors love to hate as it operates major parts of New York City’s infrastructure with no mayoral control and a shared gubernatorial control (with the New Jersey governor) that provides only partial power to the New York governor. Should Catsimatidis become mayor, he may find himself in an adversarial relationship with the Port Authority. Finally, although Catsimatidis professes to “love all people”, the former Port Authority Police Inspector featured in his ad has been reported as making hateful statements on Facebook and elsewhere.