Sunday, October 14, 2007

He's Going To Need More Money

The New York Daily News reports today that the New York City 2009 mayoral race is already well under way, with City Controller Bill Thompson, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., and Congressman Anthony Weiner all quietly working behind the scenes to drum up endorsements and woo support from key constituencies.

One man not mentioned in the Daily News article is John Catsimatidis, the self-made billionaire supermarket mogul who also is making plans to run for mayor in '09.

Catsimatidis, owner, president and chairman of Red Apple Group and the Gristedes supermarket chain, just switched his political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in hopes of following in Mayor Moneybags' footsteps into City Hall.

Mayor Moneybags used to be a Democrat, but he switched his party affiliation to Republican back in 2000 so he wouldn't have to run in a crowded Democratic primary where even his billions couldn't help him win.

Instead, Moneybags bought the Republican nomination and won two mayoral terms.

Catsimatidis is working off the same Bloomberg play book, hoping to by-pass the crowded Democratic field by switching to the GOP, dropping $20-$40 million in the Republican primary and buying the nomination.

His biggest rival for the GOP nomination may be Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Kelly has not announced for mayor but is believed to have some interest in following Bloomberg.

Catsimatidis sent a letter to Republican Party leaders explaining his change in party and his political platform:

“We can’t go back to the way this city was, in the years before two leaders, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, showed the nation and the world that common-sense Republican principles could tame a city that was viewed as unmanageable and had become synonymous with all that was wrong with urban America.”

Catsimatidis says he will work to keep crime low, the quality of life in New York high and New York politics from reverting back to "clubhouse politicians in smoke-filled back rooms."

Catsimatidis needs to do some serious explaining to New York City Republicans because the supermarket magnate is also Democratic fund-raiser and a top donor for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Catsimatidis, who seems willing to say or do anything to win, dismisses the changes in party affiliation as overblown:

"I was a Republican in the 1980's--a Ronald Reagan Republican," he said. "I donated to the Republican library. I supported George H.W. Bush. I helped build the chapel at Camp David under George H.W. Bush, and then I was chairman of the New York County dinner two years out of five under Roy Goodman. I've done a lot of Republican things. And I'm baaaack."

Now I don't want to undervalue $20-$40 million in political campaign funds, but I think Catsimatidis has some problems trying to win the mayoral race.

The biggest problem seems to be his mouth.

Say what you want about Moneybags, but he understands both discretion and public relations.

When he sexually harasses women, makes racially offensive remarks or engages in gender discrimination, he does it discretely in private while saying all the right (and politically-correct) things in public.

Plus he knows to pay people off and shut them up (see this November 1, 2005 Wayne Barrett article in the Village Voice for the details on six separate sex and race cases that Bloomberg bought silence in.)

Catsimatidis doesn't seem to understand discretion as much as Moneybags does, however.

I spent about a minute Googling him and came up with this interview of potentially damaging quotations he gave to The New York Observer in January 2007:

Yesterday, we chatted about some of the specifics of the Catsimatidis '09 agenda.

The price for the campaign? $30 million. "If it's going well and I want to spend 40, I'll spend 40. It doesn't matter."

In which party? "Most likely the Republican Party. I mean, I'm not a left-wing Democrat. I'm a Rockefeller Republican, the way Bloomberg is a Republican."

What makes you a Rockefeller Republican?

"I'm pro-people and pro-business."

And your vision for the future of New York?

"My number one concern is not chase the middle class out of New York. Do you want to turn New York into a downtown Detroit or downtown Cleveland? I love New York. I don't want to do that."

And what's that like?

"Downtown Cleveland? There's nobody down town except the people on welfare," Catsimatidis said. "You know, you need a mixed society, you need a little bit of everybody.


"When you talk about illegal aliens, they have a purpose too. I want illegal aliens, and I'll support them if they're paying their taxes, hard working families. But if they're here to live off the rest of us, then I'm not going to support them. If they're here to commit felonies and murders, I'll have them on the first boat out. You know, if it's within my power."

How would you like to be Catsimatidis' political handlers?

He hasn't even announced yet and he's said Cleveland is full of nothing but welfare mothers and illegal aliens are fine by him as long as they keep quiet, pay their taxes and work at Gristedes, but if they start causing trouble, he'll "have them on the first boat out..."

If I were advising Catsimatidis, the second thing I'd tell him is that $40 million isn't going to be enough to win.

The first thing I'd tell him is to shut up.
blog comments powered by Disqus