The New York Mayoral race — a look at the Republican field

The focus in New York City politics has been, of course, on the Democrats. How could it be otherwise with Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer both attempting comebacks, and Weiner hoping for the comeback of his comeback?

But how about the Republican field? My conservative cousin finds two good GOP candidates for Mayor, and some reason to believe that one of them might win the job. My cousin writes:

My prior posts on the New York City election campaign may have given some Power Line readers a too pessimistic view of my hometown’s future. The crew of Democratic politicians who merrily run around town seeking to ignite atavistic tribal passions and boasting of how much of the treasury they can give municipal unions is not by any measure the whole New York story. This town is definitely not a city in decline.

The population now stands at a record 8.4 million up from a nadir of 7.1 million in 1980 in the aftermath of the fiscal crisis. Talented young people from all over the world gravitate to this city.

New York entrepreneurs are creating cutting edge businesses in fields as diverse as high tech and fashion. The real estate market is booming with multi-million dollar homes in neighborhoods where two decades ago people were afraid to walk the streets at night. Far from Manhattan, Asian and Latin American immigrants are bringing vibrancy and family values to moribund sections of Brooklyn and Queens. Even the once written-off Bronx is experiencing a revival.

The two main GOP candidates for Mayor, John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota, in very different ways reflect the vigor of this metropolis. John Catsimatidis came here from Greece as an infant. Raised in Harlem, his father worked as a busboy. Catsimatidis became a billionaire with a diverse portfolio including supermarkets, real estate and oil refining.

Catsimatidis brings a brash enthusiasm to campaigning and a willingness to unlock his personal fortune to finance the campaign. This is no small thing in New York where the local GOP is lacking both money and organizational strength. He also has a long time record of generous support for many local charities.

Some of his off the cuff suggestions like street fairs in every neighborhood, monorails along main highways, and a World’s Fair may prove problematic. They could well be a distraction in a campaign that should focus on the irresponsible fiscal and public safety policies advocated by the Democrats.

Joe Lhota has a long distinguished career in both the private and public sector. He served as Finance Commissioner and Deputy Mayor for Operations in the Giuliani administration. Later, he served as Chairman of the Transit Authority.

As Deputy Mayor, Lhota earned a reputation as a tough and effective administrator. At Transit he was widely praised for getting the system up and running after Hurricane Sandy.

Lhota is not just a career civil servant; he earned his spurs on Wall Street. Unlike Eliot Spitzer he does not want to run the financial services industry out of town.

But Lhota has never run for elective office. He is a wooden, remote figure on the campaign trail.

There’s also some baggage from the Giuliani years. Joe was Chairman of the Mayor’s Decency Commission, a feckless attempt to stop government funding of museums that displayed offensive art work. The Commission was created at the same time Giuliani was conducting an affair that led to the divorce of his wife Donna Hanover.

Despite the Democrats 5-1 registration advantage in New York, you can’t dismiss the chances of a GOP victory. No Democrat has won in 20 years. A bitter primary battle could fracture the party.

A wild card in the race could be the candidacy of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. Should current Democratic front runner Christine Quinn win the nomination, Carrion, who is no pushover, would be the only “minority” in the race. This could result in a split among Democrats creating a path to GOP victory.

For the sake a great city, let’s hope for that outcome.

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