Although almost all of the city’s elected officials have stayed mum on this year’s mayoral election, especially on the Democratic side of the aisle, two new politicians have already thrown their support behind different candidates this week. Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron endorsed Comptroller John Liu for the city’s top job and Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney did the same for Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
“I think he brings energy. I think he brings real commitment to working class families. He’s a fighter against Wall Street,” Mr. Barron told Politicker before Mr. Liu’s Sunday announcement event. “I think he’s done good as comptroller to make sure that we got an equitable share of the contracts and pension investments. I think he’ll be the best candidate.”
Mr. Barron, of course, has said a raft of controversial statements during his tenure in office.
In a 14-hour series of events yesterday, Comptroller John Liu formalized his mayoral candidacy as he traversed the city’s five boroughs. Throughout the early part of the day, Mr. Liu showed impressive energy, speed-walking, jogging, and–at one point, at least–literally sprinting from location to location with a band of reporters struggling to catch up. But some of the most memorable moments on the campaign trail came in the evening when Mr. Liu boarded the back of the press van and, munching on donuts, fielded a barrage of questions until the inquiries simply ran out. Notably, Mr. Liu dismissed politicos and pundits who categorize him as a City Hall long-shot due to the ongoing federal investigation into his fundraising.
“I wouldn’t be running–it’s way too much time and money to throw down the drain–if there was not a clear shot to victory,” Mr. Liu told Politicker.
Comptroller John Liu officially kicked off his campaign for mayor at a raucous rally on the steps of City Hall attended by several hundred people where he vowed to “be a mayor not of the one percent, but of the 100 percent.” Along with promising to enact populist reforms on housing, education, law enforcement and the business community, Mr. Liu dismissed the ongoing corruption case against two of his associates as a politically motivated “witch hunt” that would not stop him from winning the election.
“When you go after powerful people and rich corporations, they’re going to come after you,” Mr. Liu declared in a fiery speech. “They certainly have made my life challenging, but let me be clear, we are not backing down!”
Comptroller John Liu will officially announce his campaign for mayor on the steps of City Hall this afternoon as part of a more than 14 hour tour across all five boroughs. His first stop was the Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, where he reflected on his tenure in the comptroller’s office.
“It’s been a little more than three years now that I’ve had the privilege of serving as city comptroller. Not an easy period of time to be the chief financial officer of anything, let alone our great city of New York,” Mr. Liu said when he took the podium during the church’s 8 a.m. service. “It has been my prime priority to reduce wasteful spending at city agencies. To make sure that they’re not wasting too much money on these pet projects, particularly those that involve those outside consultants and keep the money where it really belongs: services for the people of New York City.”
New Club on the Block
New York City’s first Muslim club is looking to have an impact on the mayor’s race. And organizers of the group, the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, cited current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies–notably, the city police department’s controversial Muslim surveillance efforts–as a key motivating factor as they seek to ensure his successor follows a new path.
“The mayor has been a problem for this community,” one club leader, Ali Najmi, told Politicker. “We want to send a message to City Hall that the next mayor needs to treat us differently.”
Comptroller John Liu is the only one of the major Democratic mayoral contender whose campaign hasn’t officially released his fundraising numbers from the latest filing period to the press. However, Mr. Liu’s numbers are actually worth boasting about. Though the raw amount he’s raised doesn’t compare to his rivals, when you factor in publicly-matched contributions, Mr. Liu appears to be sitting on the second-highest pile of campaign cash behind only Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has already raised the maximum amount allowed for the primary
“We’re just about there in maxing out at the spending limit,” a spokesperson for Mr. Liu said after Politicker reached out. “In fact, we’ve emphasized small amounts and from a broad base of NYC donors, the vast majority of whom are first-time donors to any campaign.”
Comptroller John Liu is finally ready to take the plunge.
Mr. Liu, the last of the remaining major Democratic mayoral candidates who has yet to declare his electoral intentions, will formally announce his candidacy Sunday afternoon, according to multiple sources.
Law & Order
On Monday, three individuals were arrested and accused of stealing more than $50,000 from a lunch program for senior citizens, including Veda Jamoona, a staffer in Comptroller John Liu’s government office. In the wake of her arrest, a spokesperson for Mr. Liu said Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay “until further notice.”
“We have been informed by the NYC Dept. of Investigation that Ms. Veda Jamoona was arrested yesterday morning for conduct unrelated to her employment at the Comptroller’s office,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Ms. Jamoona has been suspended without pay until further notice. Veda Jamoona has been employed since Jan. 17, 2012 as a public affairs associate at the annual salary of $55,000.”
In Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last State of the City speech today, he touted his record of accomplishments. But Comptroller John Liu, a likely candidate for mayor this year, isn’t so sure about that. Accordingly, only minutes after Mr. Bloomberg finished speaking, Mr. Liu fired off a statement blasting the mayor.
“Obviously, Mayor Bloomberg can point to some accomplishments after 11 years, especially in improving New Yorkers’ health through reductions in smoking,” Mr. Liu said. “But his selective retelling of history leaves out some troubling facts: near record unemployment, record numbers of homeless, record income disparity, record stop and frisks, record claims against the NYPD, record numbers of school closures, and a failed education record that has only one in five high school students graduating from college. How can we be satisfied with that? No one can say that New Yorkers of all walks of life shared equally in the accomplishments he claims as his legacy.”
Law & Order
The federal case against Comptroller John Liu’s fundraising operation has hit a rather intriguing snag.
Oliver Pan, the donor accused of breaking campaign finance laws on Mr. Liu’s behalf, was “involuntarily committed with a mental health condition,” according to Judge Richard Sullivan, who’s overseeing the case. He did not elaborate on the specifics, outside of saying it’s unclear when (or if) he will recover.
Thus, at today’s pre-trial hearing, Mr. Sullivan established a date–this Friday, at noon–that medical professionals treating Mr. Pan need to report on his status. The judge further set April 15th as the “backup” date for the trial to begin, should Mr. Pan not promptly regain his health.