Billionaire grocery and oil magnate John Catsimatidis is set to formally announce his candidacy for mayor as a Republican in a few minutes on the steps of City Hall. Politicker has obtained a copy of the prepared version of the remarks Mr. Catsimatidis plans to deliver. His speech bills him as a native New Yorker who will use his wealth to be an “independent” leader for residents in all parts of the five boroughs.
“In 1949 my parents emigrated from Greece in search of a better life. … Like so many immigrants before and since, they came to our city with little money in their pocket and only a few words of English in their vocabulary. But, they came with a great deal of hope and a desire to work hard so I could have the opportunities they had been denied,” Mr. Catsimatidis’ speech says. “We settled in Harlem and my father found work as a bus-boy while my mother stayed home to care for me. We were poor and times were hard. … Now, 64 years later, I stand before you to formally announce my candidacy for mayor. I enter this race as a true son of New York; I gre up in its neighborhoods, I was educated in its public schools and I started off as a small businessman selling groceries to its people.”
It snowed, hailed and rained on Bill de Blasio’s parade. The public advocate spent Monday, his first official day as a mayoral candidate, on a journey that spanned over sixty miles and all five boroughs, a dramatic, physical manifestation of his plan to propel himself to Gracie Mansion by reaching out to disenfranchised residents in the far flung corners of the city and channeling populist backlash against the policies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg along the way.
The Tall Man Cometh
So far, though all of the main Democrats expected to run in this year’s mayoral race have been participating in multiple forums for candidates, none of them except for Bill Thompson have actually officially declared their intention to run. However, mayoral campaign season is clearly about kick off in earnest. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, one of the all-but-officially declared mayoral hopefuls, sent an email to supporters this morning teasing “a very important announcement about 2013″ he will make on Sunday. Sources tell Politicker Mr. de Blasio will be officially launching his mayoral campaign at the event.
Playing the Field
New York City’s last two mayors each left an indelible mark on the city. Rudy Giuliani’s eight years are remembered for his crime crackdown, the Disneyfication of Times Square and millions weeping as one after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Mike Bloomberg’s town is an emerging tech hub, dotted with modern public spaces and glass towers, and packed with tourists and ex-smokers riding their bikes to Whole Foods. All that, plus a yogurt store on every block, $4,500 one-bedroom apartments in once-forsaken Brooklyn neighborhoods and a growing class divide that makes Downton Abbey look like a socialist commune. On the positive side: there’s still no Walmart here.
Among all public officials, the mayor is the one who shapes our day-to-day lives the most: not just our subways, schools and streets, but our ethos and identity as a city. This mayoral election, New York City’s first with no incumbent in more than a decade, has attracted a slew of hopefuls eager to remake the city in their own images. And what images they are. Assembled at the starting line are a quartet of formidable Democrats, alongside a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, a man with his own catchphrase and action figure, and a vibrator-wielding, marijuana smoking, alligator-hugging YouTube ranter.
Earlier today, President Barack Obama unveiled a broad set of gun control proposals prompted by the wave of anti-gun sentiment generated by last month’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a prominent gun control advocate, scheduled a press conference this afternoon to praise the White House for what he described as “a bold and comprehensive plan to tackle gun violence” that matches much of his own vision.
“Today it’s clear that the president and the vice president heard us and they heard the American people,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “The vast majority of Americans support common-sense gun regulations, and clearly, the White House was listening.”
a spoonful of sugar
Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city officials unveiled a new initiative to limit supplies of prescription painkillers in the city’s emergency rooms as a way to combat what they described as a growing addiction problem in the region. Some critics, as documented by The New York Times, however, felt the move would unnecessarily hurt poor and uninsured patients who use emergency rooms as their primary care doctor. Needless to say, Mr. Bloomberg was not swayed by this line of argument.
“The city hospitals we control, so … we’re going to do it and we’re urging all of the other hospitals to do it, voluntary guidelines. Somebody said, oh, somebody wrote, ‘Oh then maybe there won’t be enough painkillers for the poor who use the emergency rooms as their primary care doctor,’” the mayor said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “Number one, there’s no evidence of that. Number two, supposing it is really true, so you didn’t get enough painkillers and you did have to suffer a little bit. The other side of the coin is people are dying and there’s nothing perfect … There’s nothing that you can possibly do where somebody isn’t going to suffer, and it’s always the same group [claiming], ‘Everybody is heartless.’ Come on, this is a very big problem.”
Desperately Seeking Schumer
Council Speaker Christine Quinn appeared at a Greenwich Village library this morning to unveil a 9/11 tile memorial, but the question that was clearly on everyone’s mind was a New York Times story about Mayor Michael Bloomberg trying to recruit a host of political heavyweights to enter this year’s mayoral race. Ms. Quinn, who has all-but-officially announced her campaign and has enjoyed a close relationship with the mayor, deemed the reports he has tried to woo other potential successors as “just silly.”
“I’m not going to comment on silly political parlor games, it’s just silly,” Ms. Quinn said. “When the mayor’s race starts, what New Yorkers are going to be focused on in is who has the best record…trust me I’m happy to put my record up against anybody.”
Comptroller John Liu, a likely candidate for mayor this year, has been consistently tagged as “embattled” by media outlets due to the criminal indictments against his campaign treasurer and a top donor. Over time, however, the press has largely dropped the term, even as his campaign treasurer’s trial plows ahead.
However, in a brief email to reporters inviting them to attend his birthday party fundraiser tonight, Mr. Liu’s campaign embraced the term themselves with a tongue-in-cheek reference to the candidate as “embattled.”
“Embattled Comptroller John Liu would like to invite you as a guest to his birthday fundraiser tonight,” the invitation read.
Last Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, frustrated with the current state of contract negotiations with the city’s teachers union, caused a political dust-up when he compared the leadership of the influential United Federation of Teachers to the National Rifle Association. Now, other New York City politicians are demanding an apology.
“Teachers want to work with the best, and most of them are not in sympathy with the union,” Mr. Bloomberg had said before pivoting to one of his preferred talking points when he pushes for tougher federal gun laws. “The N.R.A’s another place where the membership, if you do the polling, doesn’t agree with the leadership.”
Michael Mulgrew, the President of the U.F.T., said he was so infuriated by this comment that he organized today’s press conference on the topic.
Mayoral candidate and former comptroller Bill Thompson had harsh words for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after a report from the Independent Budget Office highlighted issues with the city budget. The report noted “while projected budget gaps may currently appear modest—certainly when compared with gaps faced in some recent years—the next Mayor and City Council are likely to face significant budget challenges,” a situation Mr. Thompson described as Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Quinn rather literally passing the buck.
“Today’s Independent Budget Office report once again confirms that Mayor Bloomberg and his partner in the budget, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, continue to kick the fiscal can down the road and push tough economic decisions into the next mayor’s term,” said Mr. Thompson in his statement.