Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald says one of his rivals never should have been allowed to participate in last week’s official debate–and is trying to bar him from the next one.
In a complaint filed yesterday with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, Mr. McDonald charges that the board violated its own rules when it allowed billionaire candidate John Catsimatidis to participate in last Wednesday’s televised debate because he failed to raise the qualifying cash.
Earlier this evening, in a live televised debate on CBS, the three Republican mayoral candidates discussed an unexpected topic: New York City’s condom policy.
Specifically, they were asked if–like Democrat Christine Quinn–they would back improvements to the city’s free “NYC”-brand condom program to promote more widespread use. It was clear, however, that businessman John Catsimatidis did not prepare talking points for this particular question.
The former MTA chair joined his fellow Republican candidates at a mostly-genial mayoral forum tonight, where they lobbed bombs at common enemies like their Democratic rivals and agreed on virtually all policy fronts. But the good will ended when rival John Catsimatidis said he “liked” Mr. Lhota while declaring himself the most viable contender in the race.
“You don’t show it,” Mr. Lhota groused, pointing to the flood of negative advertising recently launched by the billionaire businessman’s campaign. “You sure spend a lot of money to piss me off.”
George McDonald, a Republican mayoral candidate who’s seen a moderate surge of interest in his long-shot campaign since Democratic rival Anthony Weiner called him “grandpa” before a Tuesday forum, is not willing to let the issue go.
In addition to doing a batch of interviews responding to the remarks, Mr. McDonald fired off a combative statement this afternoon that once again blasted Mr. Weiner for the jab as well as his sexting controversy.
Comptroller John Liu, known for his rapport with minority groups across the city, drew rare scorn from a predominately black crowd in Queens last night because he dared to make a joke about Anthony Weiner during a heated forum, in which the moderator at one point threatened to turn off a rival’s microphone.
“So I’ll be working day in and day out,” said Mr. Liu, describing how he planned to spend his time if elected mayor, during a forum inside a Laurelton, Queens church. “And you can rest assured at night, I’ll be resting up for the next day’s work … I certainly will not be taking pictures of myself.”
Some politicians adore campaigning; buttonholing commuters, making the church rounds to share their visions for the city and having heart-to-hearts at senior centers.
And then there are candidates like Joe Lhota, the leading Republican running for mayor.
Chatting up passersbys recently outside a subway stop on the Upper East Side, Mr. Lhota’s energetic hellos and handshakes were interspersed with awkward pauses and commentary, as he stood with his hands on his hips, arms framing a bulky white shirt and blue striped tie.
“I’m leaving as soon as it starts raining,” he said to his staff, only half-joking, during a lull between handshakes under an increasingly threatening sky.
Up until now, Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald’s strategy has been simple: letting his better-known challengers batter each other to a bloody pulp until voters–desperate for a better option, he hopes–come crawling over to the neutral third party.
But last night, viewers of the mayoral election’s first televised Republican debate, which aired on NY1, saw Mr. McDonald come out swinging, hurling one shot after the next against his new target: billionaire supermarket and oil magnate, John Catsimatidis.