By William Lewis
Gristedes billionaire John Catsimatidis plans to play a role in reorganizing the city’s Republican Party after losing his bid to win the GOP line in the September mayoral primary.
Recently I spoke to John Catsimatidis about the Republican primary. When I asked him what he would have done differently if he had the chance to run again, he indicated he would do more target marketing. He believes former Mayor Rudy Giuliani was a big help to his opponent, Joe Lhota, since he appeared in most of Lhota’s campaign literature and at times acted as a spokesman for his opponent. It seemed to him that his opponent was Giuliani instead of Lhota.
Catsimatidis intends to remain in politics in the near future. He said he’ll be back and believes that had the campaign lasted another four weeks, he would have caught up to his opponent. Catsimatidis praised his staff for their strong devotion to his campaign.
The borough with the most Republican elected officials is Staten Island. Catsimatidis carried it in the primary. He spent a lot of time there. Lhota, while head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, raised bridge tolls there. This also may be why Catsimatidis carried it. He also carried Brooklyn.
Catsimatidis believes that George McDonald’s being in the race meant that for the first two mayoral debates, he and Lhota each had only one-third of the time to speak. In the third debate, McDonald did not participate. Therefore, the two major candidates had half the time each to speak. Catsimatidis believed that was more beneficial to his candidacy.
Catsimatidis thinks his race was honorable and brought out the citywide issues that affect the people’s daily lives. He emphasized that he spoke for the people of our city and he will do so again in the future. It was a tough race but he is glad he fought it.
As Catsimatidis looks to the future, he hopes to be active in rebuilding the Republican Party. Looking at it from a positive standpoint, mayoral candidates have won under the Republican ticket for the last 20 years and can do so again.
Looking forward to the general election Nov. 5, Democratic Public Advocate Bill de Blasio holds a commanding lead at this time over Lhota.
De Blasio has the name recognition and the ability to raise finances. It should be added that the Democratic Party in New York City holds an enrollment advantage over the Republican Party of 6-to-1. Republicans can still win citywide races, but it is difficult.
If Catsimatidis had won the Republican primary, he would have had the finances to run a strong campaign against de Blasio.
In all, it has been an interesting political year. Mayoral races bring a lot of attention to the democratic political system.