New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) “plans to back” former MTA chairman Joe Lhota (R) for mayor if Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) wins the Democratic nominations, according to “City Hall insiders.” According to the sources, Bloomberg fears de Blasio would “dismantle his 12-year legacy if elected mayor.” Lhota said he would welcome the mayor’s endorsement. Lhota: “Mike Bloomberg and I had a discussion back in January. He’s staying out of the primary. I will talk to him next Tuesday night-Wednesday morning about the future and where we are going.” (New York Post)
While Bloomberg has stayed out of the Democratic primary, deputy mayor Howard Wolfson, a former colleague and financial backer of de Blasio, has been hammering the Democratic frontrunner in interviews for weeks. Facing a daunting party registration advantage, Lhota will enter the general election campaign a significant underdog if he wins the GOP nomination, as expected, on Tuesday. But Bloomberg’s official backing would certainly be a welcome development, especially if the mayor and his allies pour some money into TV spots attacking de Blasio.
FINAL PITCHES: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D) released a new TV ad Friday calling NYC the “greatest city in the world.”
Meanwhile, former Comptroller Bill Thompson’s (D) daughter appears in his latest TV spot touting her father’s endorsement from the city’s teacher’s union. (New York Times)
Thompson and Quinn are both jockeying to finish second in the primary while hoping to keep de Blasio under 40 percent and force a runoff.
DE BLASIO EXPECTS RUNOFF: During an interview on “Good Day New York” on Friday, de Blasio said: “I think there will be a runoff. But I also think the message I’ve put out there is resonating, talking about a very progressive approach, a real break from the Bloomberg years. And I think people are responding.” (WNYW-TV)
CATS HATES “HOODLUMS”: The New York Times has a story detailing billionaire John Catsimatidis’ (R) frequent use of the word “hoodlum.” At a recent campaign stop, Catsimatidis said: “We’re going to have a problem if one of the Democrats gets it. Why? They want to give the streets back to the hoodlums.”
Asked for his definition of “hoodlum,” Catsimatidis said: “A person that is up to no good, that doesn’t have a job, has a problem with either drugs, has a problem with something. And every day when he wakes up, he has to earn a couple of hundred dollars to either buy drugs, buy liquor or something, and that’s a hoodlum — that every day, he’ll commit a crime, whether it’s minor, major or whatever.”
Catsimatidis attributed his fondness for the word to his 1950s upbringing, saying: “It must have been a word from ‘The Little Rascals’ when I was watching it on television. Those hoodlums!” (New York Times)
Meanwhile, Catsimatidis sat down for an entertaining interview with the Staten Island Advance. Catsimatidis predicted: “I think I can get the black vote if Bill Thompson’s not in the race.”
— Kevin Brennan
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."