Race to City Hall 2013 – October 25, 2013

Deadline to Vote by Absentee Ballot on Tuesday

The deadline to file for an absentee ballot in next month’s election for mayor, comptroller, public advocate and local City Council races is Tuesday, and the recently formed Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition is strongly urging all registered voters who will not be able to vote on election day to apply for one.

“Recent elections have been won and lost by a margin of only a few votes,” a FJCC statement released Wednesday read. “Elected officials take notice of those communities that vote.”

Absentee voters must send in a ballot request postmarked by Oct. 29. The Board of Elections will mail back the actual ballot, which must be returned no later than the day before Election Day.

To make a request for the ballot to be sent to you, call the Board of Elections at (212) 487-5400 or download one from vote.nyc.ny.us.

Cuomo Denies Shutting Door on de Blasio Tax Hike

Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied a comment by Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota that he would not consider allowing a tax rate hike on New York City’s half-millionaires, an integral feature of Democrat Bill de Blasio’s proposal for free preschool.

“He was crystal-clear. This is dead on arrival,” Lhota said during Tuesday’s debate. “The reality is, Bill de Blasio makes promises over and over that he can’t keep.”

Cuomo, who wants to pass a tax cut next year as he faces voters for his own reelection, has publicly said that a tax increase is untenable, most recently in a Daily News interview last week. But on Wednesday, he said that he has never taken it off the table.

“I never said that,” Cuomo said. “You know my position on taxes generally, and you know what I’ve said over the last three years.

“What I’ve said to Bill de Blasio, specifically on the telephone with
him — and he knows very well also what I’ve been doing and my
disposition — but I’ve said, look, if he becomes the mayor of the city of New York, then he should put together his plans and his programs. The mayor of the city of New York is a very important official, obviously, in this state.

“I invited him to Albany. I said, ‘You come, present a plan, we’ll have the conversation with myself, with the legislative leaders. We’ll see exactly what you’re talking about; then we’ll take it from there.’”

Responding to Cuomo’s latest comments, State Republican chairman Ed Cox said he was concerned the governor was undermining his recently appointed tax-cutting commission.

“The governor should make his intentions clear. If he’s serious about cutting taxes, he must announce publicly that the de Blasio plan is dead on arrival,” Cox said. “If he wants to raise taxes in the highest-taxed city in America and drive more businesses and jobs away, then he’s throwing his tax-cut commission under the bus, just like he threw his tax-reform commission under the bus.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat who has long been seen as a friend of Wall Street executives, jumped into the fray Thursday, saying at a Brooklyn fundraiser that de Blasio is making a mistake raising taxes on the wealthy.

New York Post reporter Seth Lipsky wrote in a column Thursday that reporters have long known that Schumer, the number-three Democrat in the Senate, is against de Blasio’s proposal. But they were unsuccessful in getting him to say it for the record.

“Schumer said it’s not his job to dictate city policies,” Lipsky wrote. “Instead it looks like he’s going to make it his modus operandi to bad-mouth the next mayor’s tax strategy in private.

“What Schumer has been stressing is that New York can’t live in isolation. It is in a competitive relationship with neighboring cities and states. Schumer makes it clear that he comprehends, even if de Blasio does not, that tax policies have consequences. If New York attacks wealthy people, they can leave — or move their businesses.”

Absent No Longer: Giuliani to Campaign for Lhota

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been invisible during the general election campaign of fellow Republican Joe Lhota, will finally make his first appearance on his former protégé’s behalf in the race’s final days.

Giuliani, popular in the Orthodox community for his successful crime-fighting tactics, campaigned sparingly for Lhota during the Republican primary. But he has not done any public events for his one-time deputy mayor since Lhota became the GOP nominee.

Lhota said Thursday that Giuliani, who now runs a consulting firm, was about to return to New York after traveling overseas.

“We’ve been texting each other back and forth, and we’ll coordinate something,” Lhota said.

Lhota Fears for His Own Safety If de Blasio Wins

Lhota took his anti-crime message to Flatbush Thursday, pointing to an uptick in shootings and crime in the area since last year as a predictor of what will happen in a de Blasio mayoralty.

“I know most New Yorkers are so accustomed to having safe streets,” he said. “But the past few weeks have shown us … what can happen if I believe our police officers are not able do their job because of the City Council legislation. You can look all around the country when people ease up on their policing efforts. Look at Detroit, look at Chicago.”

Lhota challenged de Blasio to release his proposal for keeping the city’s crime level low.

“We’ve now been through two debates, several quiet weeks for Mr. de Blasio, and not once has there been a policy that he’s offered that would keep New Yorkers safe,” Lhota stated. “A lot of ideas are pie in the sky, but not one that deals directly with public safety.”

Asked by Politicker if he feared for his personal safety if de Blasio were to win, Lhota responded: “Absolutely.”

In response, the de Blasio campaign accused Lhota of “baseless fear-mongering.”

“It’s disappointing that Joe Lhota continues to take a page out of the right-wing Giuliani playbook with his baseless fear-mongering,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Lis Smith in a statement.

Lhota Releases First Spanish-Language Ad

Lhota released his charter school ad, “Rally,” in Spanish on Wednesday, and also created a Spanish version of the website.

“Charter schools have given hope to thousands of Hispanic families whose children were trapped in failing schools,” said Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “It’s important everyone understands the differences between Joe, who wants to expand charter schools, and Mr. de Blasio, whose positions will mean a death sentence for charters. That is not the kind of change anyone in New York wants to see.”

In Victory for Lhota, Court Lifts Political Donor Limit

With less than two weeks to go before New Yorkers go to the polls to elect a new mayor, a federal appeals court has handed a victory to wealthy backers of the Republican nominee.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that individuals can contribute more than $150,000 to a super PAC supporting Joe Lhota, reversing a lower-court ruling denying the groups’ effort to bar state election officials from enforcing the cap.

The three-judge panel agreed with the group that the $150,000-per-year cap on donations violated the PAC’s First Amendment right to advocate for the candidate of their choice.

“The hardship faced by [the New York Progress and Protection PAC] and its donors from the denial of relief is significant,” the judges wrote. “Every sum that a donor is forbidden to contribute to NYPP because of this statute reduces constitutionally protected political speech.”

The NYPP PAC was founded by Craig Engle, a Washington attorney and lobbyist who is seeking to level the playing field in a race where de Blasio has raised more than double the amount of money Lhota has raised for the primary and general elections — $5.8 million compared with $2.7 million.

The ruling clears the way for an expected $200,000 contribution from Sean McCutcheon, a Republican donor from Alabama.

Lhota told reporters Thursday that he’d had no dealings with the group. “It’s a violation of law for me to coordinate with them or do anything with them. I don’t even know who they are,” Lhota said.

De Blasio spokeswoman Lis Smith slammed the ruling, saying in a statement that it would “empower the right-wing billionaires … and tea party groups who support Joe Lhota to drown out the voices of New Yorkers.”

In response, Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud blasted “Pandering Bill” for hypocrisy. The statement noted that in 2005, de Blasio, then a city councilman, sponsored legislation to loosen campaign finance rules for unions.

Again With Lopsided Results, Poll Has Nuggets for Lhota

Voters want de Blasio to be their next mayor by a hefty margin of almost 3 to 1, but respondents who don’t want a tax hike or are nervous about safety and security prefer Lhota, an amNewYork/News 12 poll released Wednesday found.

The Democrat leads Lhota 64 to 23 percent, with 4 percent choosing other candidates and 8 percent undecided. But voters who are looking for a candidate with experience want Lhota by a 54-to-45-percent margin. In addition, 38 percent — including 54 percent of independents — say that de Blasio is running a divisive campaign, compared to 27 percent who say the same of Lhota.

But the biggest outtake of the poll is the skepticism of progressive voters who think that de Blasio will not be able to fulfill his campaign promises, specifically to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 a year to fund free preschool.

“New Yorkers’ expectations for de Blasio as a change agent are quite high,” pollster Mike Berland said. “Despite the fact that New Yorkers like him so much, they have concerns that he won’t be able to get done what he has promised.”

By 65 percent to 30 percent, voters favor de Blasio’s tax hike, but by a margin of 49 to 38 percent believe he won’t get the state legislature, who must approve any tax rate change, to agree.

It appears that the source of de Blasio’s surprisingly sky-high ratings is his likeability. He enjoys a 71-to-23-percent favorability rating, compared with Lhota’s unfavorable rating, 41 percent, which exceeds his favorable rating of 39 percent.

Lhota remains unfazed.

“I want to be, as mayor, somebody like General George Patton. I want to take charge,” Lhota told Nachum Segal on his radio show Thursday morning.


“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 by The Associated Press, Politicker, The New York Post, The New York Times, Daily News, City & State, Capital New York and others.

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