Will New York City ever have a real Democrat mayor? I woke to the news that Anthony Weiner, former US congressman and candidate for New York City mayor, managed to get himself into yet another controversy. At an AARP debate, he bickered with another candidate George McDonald and called the man “grandpa.” It made headlines. While raising the question – who is George McDonald. And an even better question is, why hasn’t he been making any headlines? Then, I remembered, he’s running for the Republican nomination. And this year, the consensus in the media is that being the GOP’s standard bearer is not really a job worth winning.
After all, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a huge margin in the City. Back in May, Scott Rasmussen (whose polling leans to the right) conducted a poll which basically said the mayor will be whomever the Democrats choose.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary is very likely to be the next mayor of New York City,” Rasmussen said. “Mayor Bloomberg has left people feeling pretty good about his tenure and as we look forward there’s not a burning issue that would bring a Republican to the fore.”
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But not so fast. There is one uncomfortable fact for Democrats. They haven’t held the mayor’s job in 20 years. New York had 8 years of Giuliani and 12 years now of Bloomberg, who ran for his first term as a Republican and since as an independent.
Now, I happen to think the conventional wisdom here is right, but is there any reason NOT to cover the GOP race? Sure, Anthony Weiner makes better headlines and sells more papers, but the public interest here dictates a word or two about the people on the Republican side.
First in the few polls that have been done, is former head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Joseph Lhota (and no, that isn’t a type – his last name has a silent “H’ just like mine). He’s regarded as a serious, plainspoken administrator. His problem is his work the for MTA. Every fare hike New Yorkers pay gets laid on him, fairly or not. He is also to the left of the national party on gay rights and abortion, just like Giuliani was.
Running him a decent second is billionaire grocery king John Catsimatidis. He is more than able to afford the race and he has a track-record as a successful businessman. The Gristedes supermarket chain (Red Apple Group) is his baby.
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Third is our friend Mr. McDonald who is the top man at the Doe Fund which provides the homeless with “a hand up not a hand out.”I have to admit I rather like his style but is he mayor material?
Now, Lhota and Catsimatidis are on November’s ballot anyway. The Liberal Party (which is still around in New York) has nominated Lhota and the Conservative Party (which William Buckley set up in the 1960s because New York’s GOP was too liberal) has backed Catsimatidis. Mr. McDonald appears to be out of luck unless he wins the Republican primary.
And then there is Adolfo Carrion, a former Democrat who worked in the Obama administration at the Office of Urban Affairs. He’s likely not going to finish well in the GOP primary, but has secured the Independence Party’s nod for November. With Lhota (who incidentally declined the Libertarian Party’s endorsement) and Catsimatidis splitting the vote in November, you’d think this would make a Democratic victory inevitable. But things aren’t that simple in NYC. First off, Carrion might take votes from the Democrats, because he has a good ground game, having once been Bronx Borough President. The Green Party has selected Anthony Gronowicz, an activist professor, and not one of the Democrats. The Working Families Party has kept its powder dry so far, They’ll probably go with the Democratic nominee.
What I find disappointing is how much research goes into finding all of this out, While I’d like a new mayor, I’d much rather have a new political press in New York. The current one isn’t doing much of a job.