Tar Heel Trauma
“Thank you, New York Times,” the North Carolina Republican Party’s rather sarcastic letter began. “We southern hillbillies are always honored when the Old Gray Lady’s beacons of intelligence bestow their political wisdom from on high.”
The offense that sparked the missive was a July 10 New York Times editorial–entitled, “The Decline of North Carolina”–that blasted the state GOP for “tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot.”
Cats Out of The Bag
The Greek-born John Catsimatidis is ineligible to run for President of the United States, but that doesn’t mean the GOP mayoral candidate hasn’t thought about it. Indeed, during yesterday’s rowdy event at the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, Mr. Catsimatidis talked extensively about federal policy before proclaiming that he would have defeated President Barack Obama’s re-election bid if he were in the race.
“I’m running for mayor, I can’t run for president!” he declared. “But let me tell you something, I would have won. I could have beat Obama. Buy me a box of Kleenex.”
Earlier today, John Catsimatidis gave his mayoral campaign pitch to the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, and it was certainly not a humdrum affair. His initial speech, given as he stood in the backroom of a Cobble Hill Irish pub, went smoothly enough. When Mr. Catsimatidis veered into the question-and-answer period, however, the GOP candidate quarreled extensively with a multiple audience members.
“I still don’t understand what your plan is,” conservative activist Frank Russo told Mr. Catsimatidis, for example, about his job training program. “Quite frankly, I’m being honest. I’m not trying to be confrontational.”
“That’s public money, that’s my money,” another audience member chimed in about the proposal, which would train some young people trade skills early on in their careers. “You think it’s okay to steal it!”
Mo' Money Mo' Problems
A name familiar to millions of New Yorkers could enter a volatile Queens City Council race.
Rudy S. Giuliani, chief of staff to Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich and second cousin to the former mayor of the same name, is mulling a run for indicted GOP Councilman Dan Halloran’s seat, multiple sources told Politicker.
“If there’s a special election, it’d be hard to pass up,” one Queens Republican insider said. “That’s how he’s framed it to me.”
“That’s politics in New York,” the New York Post‘s cover blared in stark black-and-white ink this morning. “It’s all about the f–king money.”
The quote, allegedly made from Councilman Dan Halloran to a cooperating witness, was revealed yesterday as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed charges not only against Mr. Halloran, but State Sen. Malcolm Smith and a small slew of other political figures in what Mr. Bharara called “a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”
Specifically, Mr. Halloran is accused of “essentially quarterbacking” a scheme to secure Republican establishment support for Mr. Smith’s mayoral bid. Mr. Smith, a Democrat, would need the blessing of three of the five county Republican organizations to run on the GOP line, and he allegedly arranged for cash bribes in his attempt to do so. But, looking more broadly, the strange scandal also shines light on these county organizations and their few remaining powers in city politics.
Manhattan GOP Chair Dan Isaacs assured his supporters in an email today that he has nothing to do with the alleged political bribery scheme that has already led to six arrests across the state.
“Nonetheless, if anyone harbors concern that there is ‘another shoe to drop’ here in Manhattan, I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that there is not,” Mr. Isaacs wrote. “Anyone who knows me and has worked with me during my involvement with the Republican Party knows that I value personal integrity over all else.”
A Bipartisan Ship
In the wake of bribery charges being brought against the Queens Republican Party’s executive vice president, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich is calling for former Congressman Bob Turner to the lead the party.
“I want to see Bob Turner as the next chairman and I want [Queens GOP Chair] Phil Ragusa to resign immediately,” Mr. Ulrich told Politicker. “I believe Ragusa has an obligation to step aside. The only person who can bring peace and bring people together is Bob Turner because of his integrity, character and ability to work with people on different sides. He’s very conciliatory.”
John Catsimatidis may be campaigning for mayor on the Republican line, but the billionaire businessman is willing to cross the party aisle for his consultants. Accordingly, Mr. Catsimatidis hired Millennial Strategies LLC, a political shop stacked with mostly Democratic operatives.
Brad Gerstman, a partner at the firm, told Politicker that Mr. Catsimatidis is their only Republican client, but given New York City’s Democratic tilt, the move makes plenty of sense for the GOP Gracie Mansion hopeful.
Cats Out of The Bag
For local races, New York City overwhelmingly tilts towards the Democratic Party and there are only a handful of Council campaigns with the potential to be competitive in this November. The race for outgoing GOP Councilman Jimmy Oddo’s seat is likely to be one of them. And, according to a source active in local politics, the Democratic establishment is backing Mendy Mirocznik, a non-practing rabbi and lawyer, for the Staten Island district.
“We’re seeing fewer education dollars, less transportation options, deteriorating roads and there seems to be no relief in sight,” Mr. Mirocznik said in a statement announcing his candidacy yesterday. “Meanwhile, our small-businesses, the economic engine, of our community are struggling to survive – that is not a recipe for recovery. We need an advocate who will reverse this trend and bring real results for Mid-Islanders, and I believe I can do that.”
Early on in the mayoral race, the head of the Brooklyn Republican Party, Craig Eaton, was solidly in the corner of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, whom he declared to be a potential “gamechanger” for the party as it seeks to retain its hold on City Hall. Mr. Carrión, however, is a registered independent and would need the support of three of the five county chairs to run in the Republican primary. As Mr. Carrión has only been able to secure the backing of two, Mr. Eaton told Politicker that he’s now “leaning heavily” towards endorsing another candidate, billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.