John Catsimatidis disembarked from his Election Day “Catsimatidis Express” tour bus today in Brooklyn, only to hit a sudden halt minutes later.
Mr. Catsimatidis, who is battling it out with Republican rival Joe Lhota in today’s mayoral primary, emerged from his ride this afternoon with an entourage that included his daughter, local Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and several reporters. But as he walked into a Bay Ridge polling site inside of a school building–treacherous ground for candidates–he encountered several people who very much wanted the billionaire businessman to scram.
“You really shouldn’t be around here,” complained one poll worker as Mr. Catsimatidis glad-handed with voters.
One woman was furious Mr. Catsimatidis had entered the polling site without more serious objection
“This is what buying an election does, I suppose.” groused Barbara Slattery, a 54–year-old community activist, who accused him of violating election law by campaigning in a polling site. “It’s outrageous.”
But according to a Board of Elections spokeswoman, candidates are allowed to be inside of poll sites, as long as they don’t engage in electioneering, such as asking voters directly to cast ballots for certain candidates, and don’t carry campaign paraphernalia.
“I am not politicking,” Mr. Catsimatidis told Politicker when asked to respond to the objections. “I do not tell people how to vote … I just come in here, smile, shake some hands and leave.”
Leaving wasn’t so easy, however.
As Mr. Catsimatidis and his crew filed into an elevator, a poll supervisor raced over just before the doors closed, and demanded that everyone exit the elevator. Diane Goodman, the supervisor, said that everyone–including Mr. Catsimatidis, Ms. Malliotakis and members of the media–was required to sign her roll book because they had entered the polling site.
“Give it to me, I’ll sign!” Ms. Malliotakis declared, insisting she would sign for everyone in the elevator. Ms. Goodman was unmoved. Ms. Slattery, whose brother-in-law, State Senator Marty Golden, is a prominent Lhota booster, then came to the elevator to scold Mr. Catsimatidis again.
“How about getting out of the elevator?” yelled Ms. Goodman. “You’re more than one person. I want everyone to sign.”
“Where’s the police department?” Mr. Catsimatidis broke in, seemingly joking. But Ms. Goodman was not laughing.
“You want, I’ll get the cops,” she said.
“Get the cops!” Mr. Catsimatidis shot back.
Eventually Ms. Goodman softened her tone while repeating that signing in was an important part of her poll side rules. Slowly the elevator emptied so the roll book could be inscribed.
“We’re prisoners!” Mr. Catsimatidis blurted as he went to sign.