With Columbus Day Parade, Final Stretch of Race Begins
New York City’s unofficial kickoff to the final sprint of the mayoral campaign began Monday at the Columbus Day Parade, which celebrated Italian-American history and saw its share of controversy.
Marching bands, groups of police officers from Italy and floats of men dressed in period costumes entertained the crowd. Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota waved to cheering supporters lining the parade route along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. The two never crossed paths, but will square off Tuesday night for their first mayoral debate before the Nov. 5 general election.
De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, has a 45 percent lead in recent polls, and some of Monday’s visuals reinforced his status as the front-runner in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 6-1 ratio. Even before starting his march, he received a warm welcome from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed him last month.
De Blasio, in front of a giant banner bearing his name, marched alongside comptroller candidate Scott Stringer and public advocate candidate Letitia James, Democrats who are heavy favorites to win their contests next month.
De Blasio spoke of his grandparents’ immigration from Italy, noting they were able to improve their lot in the New World, and connected it to his call to combat income inequality.
“I think even those who are wealthy, even those who are on Wall Street know … that if we don’t create more opportunity, we won’t be as strong a city as we should be,” he said.
Lhota, a deputy in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, marched with a small group of campaign aides and supporters. Though he, too, received cheers from the crowd, he rarely stopped moving and completed his march ahead of schedule.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whom Lhota has praised repeatedly, flashed him a thumbs-up and said “hang in there” at the parade’s end.
Lhota was appointed by Cuomo to run the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the governor frequently praises his work in the post. Lhota tried to drive a wedge between Cuomo and de Blasio on Monday.
“Bill de Blasio has put the governor in an awkward situation,” he told reporters after marching. “Yes, they are Democrats, but the governor’s positions on charter schools, on jobs, on job creation, about taxes and tax reductions are the complete opposite of Bill de Blasio’s.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent who is leaving office at the end of the year after serving his third term, didn’t interact with either of his would-be successors. He hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race.
De Blasio’s Liberalism Not Sending Donors to Lhota
Despite talk of a flight of wealthy donors to Joe Lhota after Bill de Blasio won the Democratic nomination, the Republican, down 45 points in the most recent poll, has been raising cash but nowhere close to the level of his rival.
Even the president of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, which spent $4.9 million on its preferred City Council candidates this cycle, said last week that the board has no plans to support Lhota financially in the general election.
“There clearly are no plans and not even any discussion about any campaigning on behalf of anybody for mayor,” said Steven Spinola, the REBNY president. Spinola dismissed de Blasio’s “tale of two New Yorks” rhetoric as just campaign talk which will not affect policy in a de Blasio administration.
“People say a lot of things in the campaign,” Spinola said. “We go through campaigns all the time. I know Bill de Blasio. He’s not somebody that there’s any reason for us to be frightened of. We’ve worked with him. We have no reason to believe he won’t work with us.”
A Republican insider told the Daily News that many Democrats had offered to help Lhota — if he could get a prominent Democrat to publicly lead the outreach effort. Lhota was unable to do so.
“Joe and the campaign call people, ask them to do it, and they decline,” the insider said. “A, the campaign is too far back in the polls and B, they’re afraid of the de Blasio retribution over the next four years.”
Former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg had organizations such as Democrats for Giuliani or Democrats for Bloomberg. But Giuliani won his 1993 election against David Dinkins with the help of several Democratic officials such as then-Rep. Ed Towns (D-Brooklyn), and Bloomberg won as a Republican with the backing of nationally known Democrats such as Steve Rattner and Harvey Weinstein.
“People are sincere when they say, ‘I’d love to help you … but I can’t get fired,’ or ‘I can’t risk going before the City Council and not being able to get what I need because the [future] mayor then says [I’m] not going to get it,’” the insider said.
Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud downplayed the development, saying the GOP hopeful is “taking a very grassroots approach” to courting broader support.
“We have been building coalitions in the Jewish community, [in] the Hispanic community and in the Asian community, encompassing both Democratic and independent voters,” she said. “Are the polls a challenge? Of course they are. But that doesn’t mean there is not a very robust organization that’s happening.”
Lhota Continues Blasting de Blasio on Charter Schools
Republican Joe Lhota’s latest ad continues his campaign against Bill de Blasio’s stance on charter schools, a week after he first brought it up.
“Charter schools allow parents to choose the best education for children. Accountability. Better scores. Greater hope. But Bill de Blasio wants to roll back their success,” the narrator says in the 30-second spot.
De Blasio supports requiring charter schools to pay rent to use city space on a sliding scale so that wealthier schools pay more. He also would end space sharing in public school buildings, and wants to keep the state cap at 200 on the number of charter schools that can be established.
Lhota has charged that de Blasio’s policies would “destroy” the privately run, publicly funded schools, adding that he can’t call himself a real progressive if he opposes the charters.
“If I find out a candidate is against charter schools, definitely, I would not vote for him,” one mother says in Lhota’s ad, titled “Rally.”
Internal Poll Has Hynes Leading — if Party Label Is Not Mentioned
An internal poll revealed by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has two paths for his victory — if voters forget he’s running on the GOP line or if they hear about Democratic rival Kenneth Thompson’s association with corrupt ex-Democratic boss Clarence Norman.
Thompson defeated Hynes in the low-attendance Democratic primary last month 55 to 45 percent. Hynes, running for a seventh term as Brooklyn’s top prosecutor, first conceded the race but then announced he would run on the Republican and Conservative party lines, ballots he had secured already before the primary.
In the internal poll, Thompson, a defense attorney, would win again 48 to 36 percent if voters had to vote on the GOP line. But when respondents are not aware of party labels, Hynes leads Thompson 41 to 37 percent.
And “when voters are further informed that Thompson’s campaign is supported by Clarence Norman, a corrupt political boss who went to prison, Hynes takes a commanding lead, 44 percent to 29 percent, with 27 percent undecided,” said Paul Swibinski, of Vision Media Political, the Hynes campaign’s pollster.
“This means that 40 percent of Thompson voters abandon him after learning this information.”
Thompson’s campaign said Hynes’s releasing an internal poll shows he was “desperate.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio blasted Hynes for changing party affiliation, insisting that Thompson, whom he had endorsed in the primary, won “fair and square.”
“I want to remind everyone that he has a Republican opponent. I think everyone within the sound of my voice should redouble their efforts to get Ken elected in Brooklyn,” de Blasio said.
Chapin Fay, a spokesman for the Hynes campaign, responded with a statement that “Joe Hynes has always been and always will be a Democrat. He is running to keep a corrupt, convicted felon from influencing the DA’s office.”
In Last Filing, 8 Times More Dems Register Than GOPers
With the last filing to register to vote in the Nov. 5 general election expired this past Friday, New York City Democrats registered eight times as many new voters as their Republican counterparts, continuing a parity which already has Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a six-to-one margin.
According to the city Board of Elections, between July 1 and Friday, Democrats welcomed 39,883 new enrollees, compared to 4,364 for the GOP. Overall, the city has about 2.8 million Democrats.
While Democrats touted their numbers as proof of their strengths, many Republican voters register as Democrats in order to influence the primary, which usually does not have an active GOP component.
“Race to City Hall 2013” is a daily Hamodia column focusing on the New York City mayoral race, ahead of the general election on Nov. 5. It is culled from reports from The Associated Press, Politicker, the New York Post, New York Times, Daily News, City & State, Capital New York and others.