Even though he finished a distant fourth in last week’s Democratic primary, Comptroller John Liu was surprisingly upbeat yesterday.
Speaking at a Manhattan “volunteer appreciation party”–he has four more such parties scheduled today–the failed mayoral candidate told Politicker he was ready to look outside of politics for his next gig.
“Elected office is not the only thing in the world. Most of my career has been outside politics,” Mr. Liu said. “There’s plenty of stuff to do in this world.”
Mr. Liu, once a leading contender for Gracie Mansion after he became the first Asian-American to capture citywide office in 2009, saw his political career falter after a fund-raising scandal engulfed his candidacy. He could not recover from the guilty convictions of two former associates and the denial of millions of dollars in public matching funds that followed. Ultimately, he notched just 7 percent of the Democratic vote.
But Mr. Liu was not wallowing at yesterday’s Chinatown event.
“I’m disappointed in the final outcome but not entirely surprised,” said Mr. Liu, who was repeatedly interrupted to pose for pictures with bubbly fans. “In the end, it was hard to go up against four rivals who had millions of dollars of campaign ads on TV, radio and in the mail.”
“We were unjustly denied three and a half million dollars that our campaign supporters had worked hard to get,” he continued. “And then you had these polls that were inaccurate to begin with that ultimately became a self-fulling prophecy.”
Mr. Liu, renowned for a schedule that would pack in as many as a dozen events from the break of dawn until nightfall, nevertheless admitted he would miss stumping on the campaign trail.
“I miss just interacting with people on a continuous basis. I am back in the office–there’s still a lot of work to do in the office,” he said. “But it’s not going to be meeting new people everyday, which is like the awesome thing about campaigning.”
“You never know who you’re going to meet,” he added, a bit wistful. “This is an amazing city.”
Mr. Liu also wouldn’t rule out seeking elected office again, though his immediate political future is unclear. “I have my credentials as an actuary and a 14-year career. That certainly is a possibility,” he noted.
Mr. Liu, unlike former rivals like Bill Thompson and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, was coy about whether he would actually endorse the Democratic primary winner in the mayor’s race: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. ”It’s only been a few days,” Mr. Liu insisted. “I think Bill Thompson did something very stand-up … to not have a divisive runoff.”
When pressed about a de Blasio endorsement, Mr. Liu held firm.
“I’m not gonna have a divisive runoff with de Blasio,” he laughed.