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Avella suspends mayoral campaign to challenge de Blasio

State Sen. Tony Avella announced he would suspend his campaign for mayor after stating he cannot compete with alleged “dark money” funding incumbent Bill de Blasio.
Photo by Michaael Shain
By Mark Hallum

Another mayoral hopeful bowed out of the upcoming race for Bill de Blasio’s job Thursday.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced he would suspend his race, with a bleak message about funding troubles and allegations of “dark money” being a deciding factor in who governs in the city.

“When I started this campaign five months ago, I knew that I was facing an uphill battle if I wanted to topple an incumbent mayor with deep pockets. Though uphill, the battle was not impossible. If able to stay in this race the entire way, I knew that with my resume, coupled with the incumbent’s disrespect, disregard, and disdain for the everyday New Yorkers, my message could resonate with New York,” Avella said in a statement.

“Five months later, however, I have found that staying in this race without being beholden to dark money is becoming increasingly difficult. Therefore, it is with a somber heart that I announce that as of today I am officially suspending my campaign for mayor of New York City.”

Avella announced he would challenge de Blasio for City Hall in December after gauging support from civic organization in Queens and Brooklyn, which share similar values to those of residents in his home district, which stretches from College Point in the west to Douglaston and Little Neck in the east. He made his official announcement at a protest against the city converting hotels into homeless shelters at the Holiday Inn in Maspeth.

“Throughout my career in government, I have prided myself on being an outsider who made it to the inside and got things done. Unfortunately, in a race like this, being an outsider doesn’t get you much. These days, it seems, elections are won with dollars, not votes,” Avella concluded.

In 2009, Avella made his first bid for mayor during his last year in the City Council representing the 19th District but lost and has served in the state Senate since 2010.

Avella is joined in his decision to back away by Gristedes Foods CEO John Catsimatidis, who decided against challenging de Blasio as a Republican, claiming in a statement Tuesday it would be too difficult to defeat the standing mayor.

“I have often said that I have one more race left in me,” Catsimatidis said. “But after careful consideration – I talked to my wife, my daughter, my son – we have decided that the 2017 New York’s mayor races was not the one that I am going to be in. My decision was based in part on the fact that the power of the incumbency in the city of New York is extremely hard to defeat.”

Catsimatidis, who was defeated in the GOP primary for mayor in 2013, said he would continue to be an outspoken voice in the city for the issues he is passionate about.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), who had been considering a run for mayor, but dropped any plans in March.

Avella came into the race with a low approval rating. A Quinnipiac University poll from February landed him at 1 percent and de Blasio with a 35 percent approval rating.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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