By Bill Parry
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) has decided not to run for mayor. Ulrich announced his decision just days after Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aides were cleared of criminal charges in campaign fund-raising probes by federal and state prosecutors last week.
Former NYPD detective Bo Dietl threw his hat in the ring Tuesday on the steps of City Hall, where he said he would challenge de Blasio as an Independent this fall.
Ulrich announced Monday he decided against running for mayor and will instead run for re-election representing the 32nd Council District, which covers the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park where Ulrich was born and raised.
“I’m not going to be a candidate for mayor this year,” Ulrich said on NY1. “It’s something that I considered for quite some time now, mulling it over these past few months with my family and my friends and my supporters, and I’ve decided that this would not be the right move for me to make.”
Ulrich, the only Republican elected official currently serving in Queens, launched an exploratory committee in May and raised more than $57,000. He has $41,500 cash on hand. Former real estate executive Paul Massey, a Republican running for mayor, has already raised $2.5 million and has $1.2 million cash on hand.
“It is a wise move not to run when some of his potential rivals in the GOP have greater monetary resources,” Arzt said. “There will be other openings that are more realistic.”
Ulrich has been a frequent critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio on issues such as the homeless crisis, snow removal in his district and what he alleges as mismanagement of the city’s Build It Back program to assist homeowners, landlords and tenants whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
“If you look at his lackluster performance and his inability to bring people together in this city, I think he absolutely can be a one-term mayor,” Ulrich said. “And I think he can be beat.”
De Blasio and his aides were cleared of criminal charges in campaign fund-raising probes by federal and state prosecutors last week, although he was admonished by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. for seeking to evade the spirit of campaign finance laws meant to stave off corruption.
“A yearlong investigation by multiple entities resulted in, from my point of view, a very clear result,” de Blasio said. “Nothing was done that was illegal or inappropriate, period. I think we need to put it behind us and get back to work.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said his office conducted a thorough investigation into several circumstances in which de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the city, after which de Blasio made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.
“In considering whether to charge individuals with serious public corruption crimes, we take into account, among other things, the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law, and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit,” Kim said in his statement.
The prosecutor added that such public statement on the status of an investigation is rare.
“We believe it appropriate in this case at this time,” Kim said, “in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and mayoral election.”
Like Ulrich, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he would not challenge de Blasio this fall.
“It certainly appears that de Blasio has a clear path to a second term now that he glided through the investigations with no more than a slap on the wrist,” Arzt said. “None of his would-be Democratic rivals would risk losing their seats with a risky challenge. However, in politics everything is unpredictable as calamity lurks around the next corner. Still, de Blasio appears to be in the catbird seat.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr