Déjà vu: Catsimatidis thinking about running for mayor again

Developer says “a lot of people” are urging him to join the race

Jan.January 14, 2020 07:00 AM
John Catsimatidis during his 2013 mayoral run (Credit: Getty Images)  

John Catsimatidis during his 2013 mayoral run (Credit: Getty Images)

John Catsimatidis might throw his hat into another New York City mayoral race.

“A lot of people are urging me to do it because of the fact that we need a lot of common sense in our city,” the billionaire grocer and developer said in a phone call Monday with The Real Deal.

Catsimatidis ran for mayor as a Republican in 2013 but lost the Republican primary to Joe Lhota, a former deputy mayor, who then lost the general election to Bill de Blasio.

He considered running for mayor again in 2017 but decided against it that spring.

If he runs in 2021, Catsimatidis said he may do so as a Democrat. However, he also downplayed the importance of party labels.

“It’s not about being a Republican. It’s not about being a Democrat,” he said. “It’s about common sense and doing what’s good for our citizens.”

The 2021 mayoral race, which is likely to be decided by the Democratic primary, is shaping up as a competitive contest, as term limits prevent de Blasio from seeking re-election. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has already entered the race, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams are expected to run. All are Democrats.

Catsimatidis, a self-made billionaire best known for his supermarket chain Gristedes but who made much of his fortune in oil refineries and gas stations, would be a long-shot candidate. Winning as a Republican in the heavily Democratic city tends to require special circumstances, as when Rudy Giuliani edged Mayor David Dinkins in 1993 and Michael Bloomberg squeaked past Public Advocate Mark Green in 2001.

Catsimatidis is worth about $2.7 billion, according to Forbes, not tens of billions as Bloomberg is, and would not likely spend $75 million or more on a campaign as Bloomberg did three times. And the city is not crime-ridden or nearly as racially divided as it was when Giuliani defeated the incumbent Dinkins. If Catsimatidis were to run in the Democratic primary, his appeal to that electorate as a billionaire who has donated heavily to Republicans would be limited.

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