NY Independence Party endorses Massey, securing ballot spot

Broker's camp hopes he can draw in the undecided

Paul Massey and Frank MacKay
Paul Massey and Frank MacKay

UPDATED: Jan. 5 at 3.30 p.m.: The Independence Party of New York endorsed Paul Massey in the 2017 New York City mayoral race, ensuring his place on the November ballot.

Massey’s camp hopes the endorsement will help the Cushman & Wakefield executive appeal to a much broader spectrum of voters, including crossover Democrats. Insiders said he’ll need all the help he can get, going up against an incumbent Democrat in a city where Republicans are outnumbered by more than 6 to 1.

The state Independence Party, headed by chairman Frank MacKay, said in a statement that “New Yorkers want and need new leadership in City Hall and they don’t want another professional politician.” The party touted its “pivotal role” in recent municipal elections and said it helped put Mayor Michael Bloomberg over the line in 2001 and 2009.

“This mayoral endorsement — which is the earliest ever by the Independence Party—is likely to deter other Republicans from running and could potentially help avoid a Republican primary altogether,” said Bill O’Reilly, a political consultant with the November Team who is working for the Massey campaign.

“In contrast with the current occupant of Gracie Mansion, Paul will put our citizens first, not his political ambitions,” Michael Zumbluskas, who leads the Independence Party for New York County, said in a statement, indicating that Mayor Bill de Blasio prioritizes being a national crusader for the progressive movement over serving the city.

Some political observers said they were taken aback by how soon the party had embraced Massey.

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“It’s incredibly early,” said Jason Haber, the former president of Community Free Democrats and a broker at Warburg Realty [TRDataCustom]. “The field is anything but set. In politics, it’s like three eternities until the election.”

Massey is aggressively pitching his long-shot campaign as a bipartisan effort. His team recently added Democratic consultant Doug Schoen, who advised the Clintons and briefly worked with Don Peebles, another mayoral hopeful from the real estate world. It also hired Ann Herberger, who had been a prolific fundraiser for Jeb Bush and his brother George W. Bush.

Sources said that the vote could make the difference for Massey in the event of an indictment of De Blasio, who’s the subject of a state probe into whether he and his allies violated election law by funneling fundraising dollars to Democratic candidates in a failed bid to win the State Senate.

The whole field could be blown open in that event. But, for now, an indictment looks very unlikely.

“A lot depends on the legal status of the investigations,” said David Birdsell, a professor of politics at Baruch College. “It’s hard to see how this turns out well for [Massey] barring some imponderables in terms of prosecution or a larger cloud of ethical taint than exists today.”

Bradley Tusk, campaign manager for Bloomberg’s 2009 run, agreed: “It’s helpful for Massey,” he said in an email about the endorsement. “If someone other than de Blasio is the Democratic nominee, it probably doesn’t matter. But if a very weak de Blasio is the nominee (and if members of his staff have been indicted), it helps but [it’s] still an uphill climb.”