Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith went on Inside City Hall last night to answer a barrage of questions ranging from his rocky tenure as Majority Leader to a federal investigation into a non-profit he funded, all in the context of his credibility of his hypothetical run for mayor as a Republican candidate in 2013. Despite all of the potential points of criticism, Mr. Smith seemed confident he could make his case.
“Even my first three terms in the Senate I was cross-endorsed by the Republican Party, I even had the Independent line, so it’s not something that’s unusual,” Mr. Smith said, while emphasizing that he’s merely in a “listening tour” and has not made a decision.
In order to ultimately run on the GOP line, Mr. Smith would need to either change his party registration by early October or receive the blessing of three of the city’s five Republican chairmen. He has only met with two of them so far, but Mr. Smith said he was encouraged by the warm words they had for him.
Winning over three won’t necessarily be an easy task, however, especially as the five prefer to work in unison. Confronted with positions he’s taken in the Senate that were in direct opposition with Republican orthodoxy, Mr. Smith pointed to his recent Business Council rating, which was higher than two of his GOP colleagues, and described himself as a moderate.
“As you saw recently, even the Business Council came out with a report, talked about the business grade for each of the legislators,” he said. “I actually had a better grade that Senator Marty Golden right here in Brooklyn. So it’s really about issues and where you stand. Maybe I’m a little bit more moderate than some others.”
The entire interview is worth a watch, but one interesting moment came when the host, Errol Louis, asked him if he supported Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign in 2009. Mr. Thompson, of course, is running again in 2013 and could end up facing off against Mr. Smith if they both secured the Democratic and Republican nominations respectively.
“Um,” he drew out for several seconds. “I think I did not. I don’t think so. I can’t recall. I can’t recall.”
He seemed pretty enthusiastic about it at the time, however.
“Bill you don’t need to worry about Queens, because in Queens we’re going to handle our business right,” Mr. Smith told Mr. Thompson before an enthusiastic crowd days before Election Day. “Over and over and again, we take care of our business. Everybody thinks Bill Thomspon and handsome guy, knows how to count and very smart, but he’s also going to be a pretty good mayor too! He’s going to make a real good mayor. “
“I’m here supporting Bill Thompson,” he said while urging everyone to volunteer and bring 10 to 20 people to the polls for Mr. Thompson. “Looking forward to supporting Bill Thompson. Come Election Day, I don’t want to see you going anywhere, work or wherever, until you vote for Bill Thompson.”