Big Apple Politics

Catsimatidis Ad Aims at Lhota’s Years at the MTA

Republican John Catsimatidis’s new mailer to Republican voters in Staten Island contains the usual bio material about the supermarket mogul, but then adds a pointed reference to “years of mismanagement” at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which Joe Lhota, the frontrunner in the GOP mayoral primary used to run.

A spokesman for Catsimatidis, who has promised to throw a million dollars a month on his mayoral ambition, promised more “new and exciting advertising in the days and weeks ahead.”

Queens Dems Back Quinn, Disappointing Blacks

The Queens Democratic Party threw its endorsement behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s bid for mayor Monday, but the county’s black political establishment, disappointed that they sidelined the only African-American in the race, indicated that would anyway support Bill  Thompson, a former comptroller.

“Our community tells us that they’re going to vote for him [Thompson] again,” Elmer Blackburne, a black district leader, said after the meeting. “We feel strongly and we’ll be working very strongly with Mr. Thompson. [Quinn] can’t win in our district.”

Rep Joe Crowley, the party chair, also endorsed Melinda Katz for borough president, edging out black Councilman Leroy Comrie, and Reshma Saujani for public advocate, instead of Council member Tish James, who is black.

“They didn’t go with Tish, they didn’t go with Leroy, they didn’t go with Billy [Thompson],” one party insider complained. “Billy would’ve made a lot of people happy. They did it purely because they have close ties to Quinn.”

No Special Election to Replace Lopez

Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided Monday against calling a special election to fill the seat Vito Lopez held since 1985, making a decision hours after the former chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic party resigned his seat, the Daily News reported.

Lopez’s allies in the Brooklyn Democratic party would have used their power to unilaterally select a replacement.

“These are the leaders he put in place,” a source close to Cuomo explained the governor’s reasoning. “Many are still loyal to him. Theoretically, [if there was a special election], he would be able to choose his successor.”

Instead, Cuomo will leave the seat vacant until a previously scheduled September primary and a general election in November. That makes it possible for any Democrat to petition their way onto the ballot without needing backing from the local party.

“As far as the governor is concerned, we’re stamping out any last remnants of power that Vito Lopez might have,” the source said.

Lopez is still considering a run for city council, where he would face Antonio Reynoso, a top aide to Brooklyn Councilwoman Diana Reyna, as a primary opponent to replace her.

NYC Schools Chancellor Blasts Mayoral Candidates

The head of New York City’s public schools is lashing back at mayoral candidates who say they would change Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education policies if elected this November.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said Saturday that the policies championed by several candidates to succeed Bloomberg would “hurt children.”

Five Democrats plus independent Adolfo Carrion addressed a United Federation of Teachers forum on May 11 seeking the powerful union’s backing.

Some of the candidates said that if elected they would not let new charter schools share space with traditional public schools as they do now. Such a change would make it difficult to open charter schools.

Walcott said they want to put “the brakes on choice.”

Speaker Quinn Reveals Bulimia, Alcoholism Struggles

Christine Quinn last Tuesday disclosed a difficult piece of her past that she had long kept private: She was bulimic for a decade in her teens and 20s, went to rehab at 26 and considers herself a recovering alcoholic to this day.

“I’ve always held the belief that the more honest we are, and the more we kind of take things that are our own personal secrets and make them public, it’s really transformative for us but also for society,” the Democratic City Council speaker told an audience of students at Barnard College.

Quinn, the Democratic mayoral frontrunner with a personal memoir due next month, described a eating disorder that began as a quest for self-perfection and a sense of power as she cared for her dying mother. A drinking problem developed in tandem as she struggled to contend with the pain and upheaval of her family’s loss.

Her discussion of her past adds an element of personal struggle to a public figure who has a brassy image and embraces it.

Quinn faced questions about whether the disclosure was an attempt to temper her public persona, but she said it was anything but.

“I don’t know that being a bulimic or an alcoholic makes that image that much softer, anyway,” she said.

Manhattan Democrats Vote to Endorse … Nobody

Manhattan Democratic Party leaders voted Thursday night not to endorse any mayoral candidate — even Manhattanites Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson.

“It is not a slight on either one of them,” Keith Wright, a Harlem assemblyman and chairman of the state party, told the Daily News. He said that the decision was nearly unanimous.

“We thought it wise that we do not endorse as a county because a lot of our clubs throughout the borough have already decided to endorse candidates,” he said.

Chaim Deutsch Wows With Fundraising Haul

Flatbush Shomrim founder Chaim Deutsch proved a prodigious fundraiser in his first bid for elected office, bringing in the maximum allowed by law in the past two weeks.

Deutsch, chief of staff to Councilman Mike Nelson, is running to take over his boss’s seat. He reported $74,819 in campaign donations.