Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/2014 Wed, 18 Oct 2017 14:58:00 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Republican Mayoral Hopefuls Pitch Candidacies at Manhattan Forum http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6896:republican-mayoral-hopefuls-pitch-candidacies-at-manhattan-forum http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6896:republican-mayoral-hopefuls-pitch-candidacies-at-manhattan-forum manhattan gop forum

Wednesday's forum (photo via Manhattan GOP)


Candidates running, or hoping to run, for the Republican mayoral nomination made the case for their candidacies at a GOP forum in Manhattan on Wednesday night, pitching their qualifications and levelling criticism at Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio. Indicative of de Blasio’s incumbent status and the nature of the opposition field, the event featured more criticism of the mayor than forward-looking policy talk.

The Metropolitan Republican Club, on the Upper East Side, hosted four candidates -- real estate executive Paul Massey, state Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, Harlem pastor Michel Faulkner, and retired NYPD detective and private investigator Richard “Bo” Dietl. The first three are registered Republicans and can compete for the nomination if they collect the required petition signatures, but Dietl is currently running as an independent and seeking a Wilson-Pakula certificate from Republican county leaders that would allow him to also run in the Republican primary. Dietl originally sought to run as a Democrat against de Blasio in the primary but made errors in his filing paperwork that precluded him from doing so and also left him out of the Republican Party, which he had been a member of for decades, he’s said.

Meanwhile, billionaire John Catsimatidis, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP mayoral nomination in 2013, was also in attendance Wednesday night. Catsimatidis has been exploring another run, but appears unlikely to enter the race. Malliotakis, who declared her candidacy this week, is close to Catsimatidis and has said she would step aside if he decided to run again.

“We are all here, united around one thing,” said Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan County GOP, in opening remarks. “It is to make Bill de Blasio a one-term mayor.”

Malpass said a Republican candidate has a path to victory if they can pull together a broad and diverse coalition that includes Republicans, independents, 150,000 families on charter school waitlists, the orthodox Jewish community that voted for Donald Trump, common sense Bloomberg Democrats on the Upper East Side that voted for Joe Lhota, small business owners, and rank-and-file first responders. A Republican can reach 51 percent, she said, scoffing at perceived media skepticism over a Republican’s chances of beating de Blasio. “I can guarantee you tomorrow, when you look in the newspapers, the narrative is going to be ‘Oh they can’t win,’” she said.

Wednesday’s candidate screening was for Republican leaders from across the city to gauge the viability of each candidate, in part with an eye toward attempting to coalesce around a single candidate and avoid a primary battle that could be damaging to their side. Over the course of nearly two hours, the candidates were questioned on why they would appeal to voters and their positions on various policies and issues including the city budget, transit infrastructure, public safety, quality of life, Rikers Island, and the Campaign Finance Board’s public matching funds program. Save for a few occasional jabs, the candidates refrained from criticizing each other.

Just two minutes were given to each candidate on each issue, contributing to a lack of concrete policy proposals. More so, the candidates lobbed critiques, and at times insults, at de Blasio, met often by applause and jeers from the 100 or so people gathered.

Malliotakis is currently the only woman on either side of the mayoral race and the only Republican candidate to have held elected office -- she represents parts of Staten Island and a sliver of Southern Brooklyn in the state Assembly. She called de Blasio a “tax and spend” mayor who is throwing “good money after bad money,” citing the significant increase in the city’s budget in the last three years. “I believe that we can change the direction of the city,” she said. As a daughter of immigrants and a Latina, she said, she’ll be able to pull votes from the Democratic base, and she was confident that she’ll be able to raise significant funds for her campaign, enough to meet the thresholds for the public matching funds program which gives 6-to-1 funds to each contribution up to $175.

“I’m not a big money politician,” said Michel Faulkner, who has so far struggled to raise funds, lending his campaign much of his own money and outspending what he has raised. But, as an African-American candidate, he believes he can build groundswell support and appeal to cross-party voters, particularly African-Americans and Hispanics. He prodded his fellow candidates, joking about Bo Dietl’s shifting party affiliation and taking a swipe at Massey for his maximum donation to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign, and made eye-catching, possibly tongue-in-cheek, policy pronouncements like vowing to put a homeless shelter in City Hall and an airport in every borough.

Massey, who so far has led the race in fundraising and spending by wide margins, called de Blasio corrupt and an “Olympic-level failure,” and said he would beat the mayor with a “legendary campaign” built on a massive ground game. Massey, who made millions in his real estate sales business, which he sold a few years ago, won’t be participating in the public matching funds program, since he doesn’t want to limit his spending, and has criticized the mayor for being a participant, since it means taxpayer money will go to his campaign. He expressed confidence that the party will eventually rally around him, since he also has the Independence Party’s endorsement and can build a fusion candidacy.

Massey, whose business operated across the five boroughs, lived in Westchester until recently, moving to the city in time to register to vote in last year’s presidential election (he has said he wrote in Michael Bloomberg for president) and to begin laying the groundwork for his mayoral campaign. NY1 reported that Massey rarely voted in Westchester over 20 years, which the candidate attributed to his busy work schedule. Massey is the only Republican candidate who has begun to lay out detailed policy proposals, though he has yet to show a strong command of city government or speak fluently about the nuts and bolts of policy. He is billing himself as an expert manager and above reproach ethically, both of which he contrasts with his criticisms of de Blasio.

Perhaps the most animated speaker of the night was Dietl, who said he could appeal to all New Yorkers as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. “I’m not beholden to any special interest group, and I’m not a career politician,” he said. A brash, tough-talking candidate, Dietl turned red with his varied and colorful critiques of the mayor. More than a few times he called de Blasio “Big Bird” and said the city was turning into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah under the mayor’s first term, citing topless street performers in Times Square (desnudas) as illustrative of his point. He boasted that he could tap his numerous wealthy friends to fund his campaign and that, even though he tried to run as a Democrat, he is a Republican through and through. Dietl promises to be tough on crime but with a big heart. He also promised to rip out the city's bike lanes.

At one point, Dietl made an apparently racist remark when relaying the story of his appearance before a judge to appeal his registration in the Democratic Party. The judge, Debra James, he said, looked just like First Lady Chirlane McCray and he knew he was in trouble when he saw her. James and McCray are both African-American. Dietl later attempted to clarify, insisting that his comments were not meant to be racist and that the two did indeed look alike. He continued to stress the point on Thursday amid a storm of negative attention to the remarks.

On most issues, there was little daylight among the four. They all oppose the decriminalization of low-level offenses, critiqued the soaring city budget, hammered the mayor on the city’s homelessness crisis and decried his transit policies and the MTA (which the mayor often reminds people is actually controlled by Governor Andrew Cuomo). On certain policies they varied, albeit slightly, such as the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. For instance, Faulkner supports reforming it but not closing it, while Massey supports closing it but opposes community-based facilities being built in its stead -- he wants modern facilities built on the island.

“I don’t know if this provided enough clarity tonight,” Malpass told Gotham Gazette, after the forum. “I was hoping there might be someone who knocks it out of the park and we would all coalesce. I think this kind of confirmed more opinions that people had. If you had a preconceived idea about each candidate, that kind of reinforced that.”

Malpass has been among the county chairs for the GOP interested in coalescing behind one mayoral candidate and pushing others out of the race, so that all resources can be focused on defeating de Blasio. She said Wednesday night that the next campaign finance filing, due May 15, might shed more light on which candidate is doing well on fundraising. Besides, she said, there are four valid candidates and other citywide nominees -- public advocate and comptroller -- to choose as well.

In the mayor’s race, however, “We might have a primary,” she said. “I don’t know if we can prevent it.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Republican Mayoral Hopefuls Pitch Candidacies at Manhattan Forum Thu, 27 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000
To Defeat De Blasio, Republicans Attempt Early Rally Behind One Candidate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6735:to-defeat-de-blasio-republicans-look-for-early-rally-behind-one-candidate http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6735:to-defeat-de-blasio-republicans-look-for-early-rally-behind-one-candidate massey mayor

GOP mayoral candidate Paul Massey, right (photo: @MasseyforMayor)


In hopes of denying Mayor Bill de Blasio a second term, some New York City Republican leaders intend to rally around a single candidate to avoid a contentious primary and present a stronger challenge in the general election.

Starting this week, Republican Party leaders and members will begin the process of vetting candidates who have declared their intention to run for mayor or are exploring a mayoral bid. Party organizations will host public meetings where each candidate will have the opportunity to present their ideas to party voters and functionaries. When it fielded Joe Lhota in 2013 after a primary battle, the GOP lost in a landslide to de Blasio, but with the mayor’s poll numbers showing some vulnerability ahead of this fall’s vote, Republicans hope to identify one candidate to throw their weight behind.

One issue with the strategy at this point, though, is that at least two potential Republican mayoral candidates have not decided whether they will run or not: Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich and businessman John Catsimatidis, who lost in the 2013 primary to Lhota.

So far, two Republicans have officially filed papers to run: real estate developer Paul Massey and Harlem pastor Michel Faulkner. Massey, who has raised and spent well over a million dollars in his campaign so far and is contributing some of his own vast wealth to the effort, is seen as the frontrunner at this point. He’s also been endorsed by the state Independence Party, which backed Mayor Michael Bloomberg twice for reelection.  

Massey is scheduled to speak on Monday evening at the Manhattan Republican Party headquarters, a building which holds about 200 people. An e-blast advertising the event told Manhattan GOP subscribers, “We need to unite this year in the mission of making Bill de Blasio a one term Mayor...We plan to endorse a candidate around April 1 and we hope to prevent a primary by working with the other Republican county chairs in that effort.”

Also scheduled to speak at Manhattan GOP headquarters next week, on Thursday, is Council Member Ulrich, one of three Republicans on the Council, who has been exploring a mayoral run but has yet to officially declare his candidacy.

Republican county leaders say they will weigh each candidate’s platform and the strength of their campaign before they make their decision in the next few months. “We’re going to screen all the candidates,” said Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party. “We’d like to hear everyone’s vision for New York.”

Malpass said the general intent is to back a single candidate after an open and transparent process that involves all stakeholders -- voters, district leaders, county committee members. “It’s evolving, but I think all five [county chairs] are in agreement that if we can avoid a primary, we’ll go into the general much stronger,” she told Gotham Gazette.

In the 2013 mayoral election, Lhota, former chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani, lost to then-Public Advocate de Blasio, receiving just 24.3 percent of vote to de Blasio’s 73.3 percent. Lhota, currently senior vice president and chief of staff at NYU Langone Medical Center, declined to comment for this article through a spokesperson.

Lhota’s grasp of the 2013 Republican nomination did come at a price. This, with the electoral deck already stacked against him due to New York City’s heavy Democratic enrollment. Lhota was pitted against Catsimatidis, a billionaire who spent heavily in mounting his campaign, leading to an at-times acrimonious primary battle accented by attack ads. After he won the nomination, Lhota promised, “It is time to unify our party, strengthen it and prepare it for victory in November.”

The September to November general election campaign never really took off for Lhota and the GOP, with polls quickly showing de Blasio at a significant advantage, lackluster debates, and no significant outside spending to damage de Blasio and promote Lhota.

This time around, the party may be taking Lhota’s 2013 call for unity to heart. “After seeing the results in 2013, most Republicans realized that a joint effort would lead to more favorable results,” said City Council Member Joe Borelli, the newest Republican to join the Council. “But it’s easier said than done.”

Borelli, who represents part of Staten Island -- the lone borough that went for Lhota -- and was a prominent Donald Trump supporter in the presidential race, hasn’t yet endorsed a candidate, but looks forward to doing so when the party rallies around one.

So far, Borelli said, the only candidates that could prove to be effective are Massey and Ulrich. “I think Paul Massey’s substantial haul of $1.6 million sent the right kind of message to the GOP leaders and potential candidates that it’s time to start campaigning and raising money or time to get out of the race,” Borelli said, referring to Massey’s campaign fundraising from the last six months that he declared this month. “With the exception of a sitting elected official like Eric Ulrich, it would be difficult for another candidate to enter the race...Eric has a much better built media platform and ability to generate anti-de Blasio press. I can’t see other candidates generating much buzz.”

And although Borelli said Faulkner is “such a genuine guy,” he added, “I just think it’s such an uphill fight for him, lacking the infrastructure and funding.”

Ulrich has started speaking out against de Blasio more, has held meetings with key political figures, and has done some fundraising on the message of taking on the incumbent, but his exploration of a run has remained fairly quiet. Lhota, though not seemingly active in party politics, has encouraged Ulrich to run. The Council member has also started filming a possible reality show following his mayoral campaign.

In part by default, Massey is currently the frontrunner in the race, having raised the $1.6 million and having also personally loaned his campaign another $1.2 million, per the latest disclosures filed with the Campaign Finance Board. His expenditures of $1.8 million through early January and a few outstanding liabilities leave him with a current balance of about $937,000. Among several consultancies, Massey has retained the November Team, a firm that handled Lhota’s 2013 campaign communications and also represents the State Republican Party.

Faulkner and Ulrich are far behind in money. Faulkner had contributions of $206,000, including about $152,000 in loans, for his campaign. But his expenditures of $213,000 surpassed that, leaving him with a negative balance of $6,900. Ulrich has raised $48,396 and spent $15,027, leaving $33,369 in his campaign account. He is eligible to run for another term on the Council, and may do so -- he said he’ll only run for mayor if he can run a viable campaign, which in large part starts with fundraising.

As Borelli said, the choice may not be as simple as picking the candidate with the most funds, though. Meanwhile, the Republican primary is more complex than relying on the choices of county leaders. Each borough of the city represents a different county and each county committee has dozens of members. Then there are district leaders whose opinions must be sought, and any candidate who can get the petition signatures to appear on the ballot can run.

“I think we’re all going in the same direction but we haven’t put all the pieces together yet,” said Robert Turner, former U.S. Representative and chair of the Queens County Republican Party. “The plan would be to look at the candidates and their positions and if someone has a clear lead, we would like to coalesce around that candidate,” he added.

Although he admitted that a primary “is not a disaster” and may help with drumming up recognition for unknown candidates, in general, he said, “Life would be easier without a primary.” Lamenting the lack of organization in 2013, he hopes this cycle will be different. “We had a very capable candidate,” Turner said of Lhota. “The organization was not as cohesive and thought-out as it needed to be and I’m hoping it can be a lot better.”

There’s wide agreement that primary infighting among Republicans would serve to strengthen de Blasio, who Republicans believe is beatable with the right combination of candidate, message, spending, and strategy. The oft-repeated stand taken by the party and candidates is that quality of life in the city has declined, especially with regard to the city’s homelessness crisis; income inequality has remained relatively unchanged; and crime is on the rise (though statistics show that, overall, crime has declined under de Blasio).

There are also the state and federal investigations into the mayor, his administration and allies, which have given fodder to his opponents, even in his own party. De Blasio is facing a few primary challengers himself, though none appears to be mounting a formidable campaign at this point. Other potential Democratic challengers, like Scott Stringer and Ruben Diaz Jr., are waiting to see the results of the investigations. De Blasio maintains that he and his associates did nothing wrong, and no one has been charged with a crime.

“We want to rally around a candidate and take on Bill de Blasio, and Paul Massey is that candidate,” said Evan Siegfried, a Republican consultant who is unaffiliated with Massey’s campaign. “What we have to avoid is a long drawn-out primary process, which only helps Bill de Blasio’s reelection chances.”

Brooklyn Republican Chair Ted Ghorra told Politico New York, "If there is a primary, I don’t think it would be in anyone’s interest to have the kind of primary that was conducted in 2013." Ulrich told Politico that there are strong potential candidates and, in apparent acknowledgement that h expects a tough GOP nominating contest, "I’m confident the party will unite behind our candidate after the primary."

Siegfried said that Massey’s lack of name recognition would not be an issue, and that he could do better if he actually avoided a primary battle and instead focused on reaching out to voters.  “And when he does that in conjunction with highlighting de Blasio’s utter inability to manage the city -- his presiding over the reduction in quality of life and explosion in homelessness, which [de Blasio] ignores -- then New Yorkers of all stripes will be willing to meet Massey and give him a fair hearing,” Siegfried said. “Many New Yorkers including liberal Democrats are very upset that Bill de Blasio did not continue the 20 years of progress that preceded his taking office.”

De Blasio is the first Democratic mayor of New York City to face a reelection since David Dinkins, who lost to Rudy Giuliani in 1993. But de Blasio doesn’t face the same obstacles. Under Dinkins, unemployment was skyrocketing and people felt unsafe. Under de Blasio, crime has largely decreased and employment has grown for the last three years. It’s a refrain of his campaign, one that spokesperson Dan Levitan repeated when asked about the Republican Party’s effort to avoid a primary. “Under Mayor de Blasio, crime just hit another all-time low, jobs are at record highs, the city is building and preserving affordable housing at a record pace, while graduation rates and test scores continue to improve,” Levitan wrote in an email. “We are happy to match that record against anyone.”

The most recent Quinnipiac University public opinion poll, from January 18, shows support for the mayor almost split down the middle. Overall, 45 percent of respondents said they approve of the way de Blasio is handling his job while 46 percent disapproved. As can be expected, his support comes overwhelmingly from Democrats, 59 percent of whom gave him a thumbs up while only 17 percent of Republicans felt the same. His reelection numbers are marginally lower than his approval ratings, however. Only 42 percent said he deserves to be reelected while 48 percent said he doesn’t. Thirteen percent of Republicans want to see him get a second term compared to 52 percent of Democrats.

At this point, de Blasio is quite likely to win in the Democratic primary and would go into the general election a heavy favorite, especially due to New York City’s significant Democratic voter enrollment advantage. But, anything can happen, and the primary is still more than seven months away.

Not all the potential or declared Republican candidates have said whether they’ll support the party’s final decision and avoid a primary. Requests for comment to Ulrich and to Massey’s campaign went unanswered. Faulkner, however, believes “it’s a great idea.” “I understand that it’s in the best interest of the party,” he said. When Gotham Gazette asked what he would do if the chosen candidate isn’t him, he said, “I have supported every Republican candidate that has run in New York City. I’ve been loyal to the Republican Party for nearly 30 years and I don’t think that will change.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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To Defeat De Blasio, Republicans Attempt Early Rally Behind One Candidate Sun, 29 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000
Manhattan GOP Sees Hope on Upper East Side http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6497:manhattan-gop-sees-hope-on-upper-east-side http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6497:manhattan-gop-sees-hope-on-upper-east-side Harary AD73

Rebecca Harary with supporters (photo via @TeamHarary)


When it comes to the New York State Legislature, most electoral attention is paid to the Senate, which Republicans control by a thin majority and only because an elected Democrat caucuses with them and they have a power-sharing agreement with a five-member faction of breakaway “independent” Democrats. This November’s elections will determine control of the chamber.

In the State Assembly, however, the balance of power is not close. Republicans have been at a massive disadvantage. The Democrats have a stranglehold on the house, which is unlikely to drastically shift come November - Democrats currently hold 104 seats to the Republicans’ 44 (one seat is held by a Working Families Party member and there is one vacancy in the 150-seat chamber). This holds particularly true for seats in New York City, a liberal bastion that helps make New York an overwhelmingly blue state. There are currently only two Republican Assembly members, both from Staten Island, representing New York City’s 66 Assembly districts.

But come November, the Manhattan GOP believes it can make inroads and put not one, but two of their own in Assembly seats on the Upper East Side where Republicans believe that registered Democrats won’t necessarily vote along the party line.

Manhattan Republicans are banking on voting trends from 2013, when Mayor Bill de Blasio’s landslide victory wasn’t reflected on the Upper East Side and he lost the neighborhood to his GOP opponent, Joe Lhota, by double digits.

“The Upper East Side is very Bloomberg-centric,” said Adele Malpass, chair of the Manhattan Republican Party, insisting that the neighborhood tends to vote along more conservative lines. “The Upper East Side is not a progressive spot,” she said. The neighborhood is predominantly white and relatively affluent, and has historically supported Republican mayoral candidates. Malpass hopes her party can tap this sentiment in the upcoming election, and win the 73rd and 76th Assembly districts by defeating Democratic incumbents.

The two districts run side by side on the East Side: District 73 extends from 34th Street to 94th Street, bounded by 5th avenue on it’s west side. On the east, it reaches the river in certain sections but mostly stops at 3rd Avenue where District 76 begins. District 76 stretches from 61st to 92nd Street, and includes Roosevelt Island.

While it may be an uphill battle - incumbents are exceedingly difficult to beat - Republicans see some reason for optimism. "The Upper East Side is where we have the best odds of winning a seat this election, but it can't be done without your support and involvement," Malpass recently wrote in an e-newsletter to Manhattan GOP subscribers.

The 73rd district is represented by Assemblymember Dan Quart, who has held the seat since winning it in a special election in 2011. He’s being challenged by Rebecca Harary, a community activist with a long history of nonprofit work. She founded a school for children with autism and a high school for teenagers with mild learning disorders. She is currently the  founding executive director of the Propel Network, an organization that helps Jewish women enter the workforce. She is a mother of six and grandmother of seven, she said in an interview.

In the 76th district, first-term Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, elected in 2014, will face off against Jon Kostakopoulos, a writer for financial news website The Street and former director of field operations for John Catsimatidis’ 2013 mayoral campaign. Kostakopoulos is also Catsimatidis’ godson and the supermarket magnate is set to host a fundraiser for Kostakopoulos in late September.

The two challengers believe they have a solid chance to make these races competitive by focusing on a few core issues -- quality of life, public safety, transportation and education -- and they aren’t worried that the Democrats have an enrollment advantage over Republicans in Manhattan. Active registered Democrats in the borough outnumber Republicans 8 to 1, but that ratio in the 76th district is only about 3.3 to 1, and in the 73rd district it's even closer at 2.5 to 1. 

“We have an absentee Assemblyman,” said Rebecca Harary about Quart, in a phone interview with Gotham Gazette. “His silence is deafening, and that speaks volumes about the leadership in this district.” Democrats, she said, and particularly Mayor Bill de Blasio, are responsible for rising homelessness and worsening quality of life in the district and across the city. Her opponent, she said, is a company man like most incumbent Democrats. “They’re just going to vote the company line and make no waves,” she said, insisting that there’s a need for an independent voice in the district. “It’s time to ask the real questions,” she said.

Her top priority, besides public safety, is education. She supports charter schools and believes the state should offer tuition tax credits, with increased income thresholds, to parents who choose to send their children to private and parochial schools.  

Assemblymember Quart doesn’t seem worried about the challenge from Harary. “I look forward to November,” he said. His plan is to run on the successes of the last five years, he said, pointing to improvement of air quality in the district, sponsoring and passing legislation on criminal justice issues and helping secure $1 billion in additional funding to the MTA Capital Plan for the Second Avenue subway line. “By any objective measure, I’ve been successful in helping my constituents,” he said.

“I run on my record,” he added. “The politics will work itself out.” Quart has a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent. He has raised more than $335,000 for the race compared to Harary’s $59,000. (Quart also has a city campaign account with $104,375 in it for a possible future race, but he said he does not intend to run for any city office in 2017.)

Fellow Democrat Rebecca Seawright is also confident about her prospects, although she’s not being complacent about the race. “I’m a full-time legislator, I take this job very seriously,” she told Gotham Gazette, alluding to the fact that state legislators are technically part-time and allowed to earn outside money, which has gotten some into trouble.

Seawright said she’s had a successful first term in the Assembly majority. “I’ve passed 10 pieces of legislation and seven have been signed into law by the governor,” she said, also touting her 100 percent attendance record.

Refutes Republicans’ assertion that quality of life is decreasing in the district, Seawright said, “I’m extremely proud of the progress that’s been made. We’re constantly picking up the phone and reaching out to city agencies about getting the homeless into shelters, picking up garbage.”

Seawright is also confident that with Hillary Clinton on the top of the Democratic ticket, voter turnout will be robust on the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, which falls in her district. One aspect strongly in Seawright’s favor is her opponent’s late entry into the fray. Kostakopoulos started his campaign only a few weeks ago - he’s holding a campaign launch event September 8 - and has yet to raise any money. Seawright has just short of $100,000 in the bank.

Kostakopoulos told Gotham Gazette he got into the race because Seawright would otherwise have been uncontested, and that during her tenure, quality of life, particularly the issue of homelessness, has become abysmal in District 76. “I’ve been there my entire life and I’ve never seen it so bad,” he said in a phone interview, mentioning homelessness specifically.

He doesn’t intend to make an ideological appeal to voters, however. “I’m not running as a Republican or a Democrat even though I’m on the Republican line,” he said. “I’m running as a resident of the 76th district.” Calling himself a “New York Republican” like former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he said he appeals to voters on the Upper East Side who are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

If elected, he intends to advocate for quicker completion of the Second Avenue subway, which he said has been perennially delayed under Assembly Democrats. “These career politicians have had enough time,” he said. “Someone’s got to be held accountable.”

Republicans are hoping to see a repeat of the results of the 2013 mayoral race and Manhattan party Chair Malpass is rallying the troops on that message. In an email blast to subscribers, she laid out the strategy and outlined five upcoming events for the candidates, including Kostakopoulos’ campaign launch and fundraiser.

“What we accomplish between now and Election Day will lay the groundwork for winning the Mayor's race in 2017 and making Bill deBlasio [sic] a one-term Mayor,” the email reads. They intend to reach out to independents and moderate Democrats and will use “cutting edge campaign technology” to do so, including merging their voter rolls with internet services and online publications for targeted ads and narrowing down specific buildings and districts to directly reach voters online. It is important that they are funded to do the work, the party wrote.

But relying on the 2013 mayoral voting numbers may be problematic. Steve Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research/The Graduate Center, pointed out that just the next year (2014), in both the 73rd and 76th districts, the Democratic candidates won with overwhelming majorities. “I don’t see how the mayoral results have anything to do with the likelihood of a Republican winning either seat,” he said of the Assembly races, pointing out that Democrats have won these districts all the way back to 2000. “That’s just a reality of the New York City electoral patterns,” he said. “There tends to be a vast difference between municipal elections and state elections, and executive branch results and legislative branch results.”

“If the Republican candidates are trying to pin their hopes on the results of the 2013 mayoral election,” he said, “they’ll be sadly mistaken and they should rethink their strategy.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this article has been updated.

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Manhattan GOP Sees Hope on Upper East Side Fri, 26 Aug 2016 04:00:00 +0000