“If Hillary runs, I won’t”: Catsimatidis on potential mayoral bid

The grocery and real estate billionaire is still considering a run

Red Apple Group's John Catsimatidis and his daughter Andrea Catsimatidis (Credit: Will Parker, click to enlarge)
Red Apple Group's John Catsimatidis and his daughter Andrea Catsimatidis (Credit: Will Parker, click to enlarge)

In an interview at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C., this weekend, Red Apple Group CEO John Catsimatidis told The Real Deal he’s not ready to say whether he’s running for mayor until a certain prominent Democrat makes a move first.

“If Hillary runs, I won’t,” Catsimatidis said on Saturday, one day after Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States.

Based on what he said were personal conversations with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Catsimatidis believes she really is considering a run.

“I spoke to her about it but she didn’t indicate or signal to me [whether she would run]. She didn’t say never, she didn’t say no. In my personal opinion it’s 50-50.”

If he ran for mayor again, Catsimatidis, who lost in the Republican primary in 2013, would square off against Paul Massey, the former commercial brokerage magnate who posted $1.6 million in campaign fundraising last month. But Massey will struggle with name recognition, Catsimatidis said.

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“Nice man. I have nothing against him,” he said. “If you stop 100 people at 57th Street and Third Avenue and say the words, ‘Paul Massey,’ one percent will know, maybe.”

In 2013, the billionaire Gristedes owner self-financed much of his primary quest to beat out eventual Republican nominee Joe Lhota, but fell more than 7,000 votes short.

“I know my mistakes, I know what I did wrong,” he said. “If I would have stayed in, I had the Liberal Party nomination, I would have gotten half of Joe Lhota’s votes….I’m highly confident Bill Clinton would have put his arm around me … I would have come close to [Mayor Bill] de Blasio.”

In early January, news outlets, citing anonymous sources, reported that Clinton might be weighing a run for mayor. Since then, other prominent Democrats such as de Blasio and Center for American Progress head Neera Tanden have cast doubts on the prospect, with Tanden, who worked on her 2016 presidential campaign, saying Clinton was not likely to run for any elective office ever again.

Catsimatidis is a long-time Clinton associate and fundraiser, and served as a member of Clinton’s finance team during her 2008 run for president. Although he donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, he also gave substantially to Donald Trump, throwing $50,000 into his joint Republican Party fundraising committee.