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.”
Cats Out of The Bag
A little over five months after he announced a “fusion candidacy” for mayor on the Liberal and Republican party lines, Tom Allon, CEO of the local newspaper chain Manhattan Media, is ending his bid for City Hall. Mr. Allon announced his decision in a statement that attributed the decision to his direct acquisition of Manhattan Media’s political news organization, City and State Media.
“When I decided to enter the mayoral race in July, 2011, I had a deep desire to lead this wonderful and unique city and to finally fix our crumbling public education system, the single greatest cause of New York City’s jobs crisis and increasing inequality in the five boroughs,” Mr. Allon said.
One night this week, you may be at home, minding your own business, and find yourself on the receiving end of a phone call from John Catsimatidis. Your next brush with him might happen when you’re driving or sitting in front of the television. These encounters will, no doubt, be memorable, thanks to the candidate’s loud squawk of a New York accent and his decidedly distinctive appearance. With an ample gut and a face padded by a prominent second chin, Mr. Catsimatidis looks less suited for prime time than for a caricature by the pioneering political cartoonist Thomas Nast as a mass of jowls and bursting blazer buttons.
Over the next few months, the businessman plans to spend several million of his own dollars to take his mayoral campaign to the phone lines and airwaves in an effort to show New Yorkers he’s a more approachable, homespun brand of billionaire than Michael Bloomberg.
“I grew up on 135th Street. I grew up on the poor side of New York. I grew up in Harlem. I was a store owner. I’m still a store owner,” Mr. Catsimatidis told The Observer on the phone from a weekend vacation in the Bahamas. “I’m not a Bloomberg billionaire. I am a real New Yorker … I didn’t go to Harvard, I didn’t go to Yale … I rooted for the Yankees, I didn’t root for the Boston Red Sox.”
Earlier this week, Congressman Charlie Rangel made headlines when he blasted the lack of diversity in President Obama’s Cabinet. In a roundtable with reporters yesterday evening where he weighed in on a variety of topics, Mr. Rangel also criticized the Republican Party for not being diverse enough. Mr. Rangel brought up the issue while he discussed his belief the country needs to be more open to immigrants and posited there are many conservative opponents to immigration reform because the G.O.P. and its constituents are not sufficiently diverse.
“All you have to do is take a picture of Republicans and a picture of Democrats and it’s as though you’re talking about two different countries,” Mr. Rangel said.
Politicker asked the congressman for his take on the African-American members of the Republican Party.
Over the weekend, Republicans in the New York State Senate rolled out a plan to address gun laws, which received criticism from Democrats due to its focus on increasing penalties for illegal guns rather than restricting access to assault weapons. A spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly shot it down, however, and Mr. Cuomo reiterated his position that the Republicans’ policy proposals are a non-starter at a press conference this morning.
“I don’t think their plan goes far enough,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I think it misses the mark, pardon the pun, to put out a plan that doesn’t ban an assault weapon with what we’ve seen.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously declined to slam House Speaker John Boehner over Congress’ stalled Hurricane Sandy aid, took his argument to the next level this morning and suggested federal lawmakers are partially to blame for the delay in the vote on the package because they insert “things that are totally extraneous” into bills such as this. Although Mr. Bloomberg didn’t specify the extraneous problem items, the legislation has been criticized by Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan for being “packed with funding for unrelated items, such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.”
“There’s this ‘Christmas Tree effect’ where legislators put in their favorite bills and tack them onto something. The [Obama] administration does that, that’s why you have an omnibus bill–to force everybody to vote for things that would never stand up in the light of day if they were individual,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show with John Gambling. “I’m sympathetic. Yelling and screaming at [Mr. Boehner] is just not my style. It may be effective, it may not be. Everybody’s got to make their own decisions. I think the legislative leaders who criticize and those in the Legislature should stop and think, they do exactly the same thing in terms of ladling on things that are totally extraneous but it’s the only way they get them through.”
Governor Chris Christie is angry.
In addition to a statement blasted out earlier today, New Jersey’s outspoken governor held a press conference this afternoon where he said Speaker John Boehner’s sudden decision to halt a vote on the Hurricane Sandy relief package exemplifies “why the American people hate Congress.”
“Thirty-one days for Andrew victims. Seventeen days for victims of Gustav and Ike. Ten days for victims of Katrina,” Mr. Christie said, ticking off how long it took for Congress to pass relief after other natural disasters. “For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, there’s been sixty-six days and the wait continues. There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House Majority and their speaker, John Boehner….Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
Unsurprisingly, the governors of the two states most ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, New Yorker’s Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Chris Christie, are not pleased with the Republican leadership in House of Representatives after they decided to not take up relief legislation last night. To emphasize their displeasure, the two released a joint statement criticizing the chamber for the move.
“With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable,” they said.
Earlier this morning, Speaker John Boehner and the U.S. House Republican leadership held a press conference to announce a new proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy and avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” or the steep set of spending cuts and tax increases that will arrive by the end of the year if a deficit deal is not reached. Specifically, Mr. Boehner’s plan would extend the current tax rates on everyone making less than $1 million a year, a sharp jump from President Barack Obama’s own counteroffer yesterday, which conceded a $400,000 ceiling. Mr. Obama had previously stood firm on allowing the tax cuts to expire for everyone making more than $250,000, a number that GOP lawmakers apparently found unacceptable.
“Our hope continues to be to reach an agreement with the president on a balanced approach that averts the fiscal cliff. What we’ve offered meets the definition of balance, but the President is not there yet,” Mr. Boehner began. “What the White House offered yesterday was essentially $1.3 million in new revenues, for only $850 billion in net spending reductions. That’s not balanced in my opinion. So, at the same time that we’re going to talk to the President, we’re going to also move ‘plan B.’”
Tells us how you really feel, Councilman Lew Fidler.
Mr. Fidler, who yesterday criticized Senator-elect Simcha Felder for vowing to cross party lines and caucus with the Republicans, took another pass this afternoon in a lengthy statement where he demanded Mr. Felder himself answer questions about the decision.
“Simcha is correct that the parties are not a religion, nor should they be,” Mr. Fidler wrote. “But being open and honest with the voters should be.”