Liu confident going into mayoral primary

THE COURIER/Photo and video by Liam La Guerre

This pol is out to prove the polls wrong come the fall primary.

Mayoral candidate and City Comptroller John Liu still believes he can win the Democratic nomination even though recent polls put him well behind his opponents.

“I have a very clear shot of winning on September 10,” said Liu when he recently sat down with The Courier’s editorial board.

An August 13 Quinnipiac University poll found only 6 percent of likely Democratic primary voters would elect Liu. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio placed first in the poll with 30 percent, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 24 percent, former Comptroller Bill Thompson with 22 percent and former Congressmember Anthony Weiner with 10 percent.

“You look at the poll numbers and my numbers have been consistent – consistently low,” said Liu.

However, he argued those numbers are flawed. Liu said they are good at measuring long-established voting groups, but not emerging ones including Asians.

But he does not fault the pollsters, admitting it is difficult to survey a demographic group that includes numerous languages and dialects.

He points to his comptroller win four years ago, when he became the first Asian-American elected to citywide office, as an example of the polls’ faulty methodology.

“In 2009 the pundits and so-called political experts gave me no chance of winning the city comptroller election. Well, at the end of the day, it wasn’t even that close.”

Among his other challenges heading into the fall Democratic primary, Liu lost out on about $3.5 million in campaign public matching funds.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) on August 5 denied him the money because it had “reason to believe” violations had been committed involving the campaign’s fundraising.

Though Liu was never accused of any wrongdoing, the CFB said he was “ultimately responsible for the campaign’s compliance with the law.”

Liu is planning on appealing, but told The Courier it was “relatively meaningless” because the earliest decision would not occur until a few days before the primary.

“I vehemently disagree with any of those characterizations [the CFB] made,” said Liu. “What they said about my campaign is the same scurrilous, baseless innuendo that I’ve been facing for years now.”

If elected, Liu – the only candidate from Queens – said he would seek to “bring back a level of attention to [the borough] that we have not seen for many years.”

Discussing some of his citywide plans with The Courier, Liu said he has a “very comprehensive way to overhaul the school system.”

That includes starting children in school earlier, at age 3, giving students better access to computers and the Internet to close the digital divide and better preparing them for post-secondary education.

“High school has to be geared not towards high school graduation but towards eventual college graduation,” said Liu.

Liu also discussed his stance against the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy, saying it deploys “resources wide and thin.” He added that he would not keep Ray Kelly as NYPD Commissioner if elected mayor.

He also wants to greatly reduce fines and penalties for small businesses and reduce their taxes.

“Too many people consider [the city] a playground for the rich,” said Liu. “The middle class is shrinking. The working men and women are being left behind. I think we have to restore the promise of what New York is.”




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