John Catsimatidis says he could spend $100 million to win NYC mayoral race
He’s the 100 million dollar man.
That’s how much billionaire John Catsimatidis says he is prepared to spend to win the mayor’s race in 2021 if he decides to seek the GOP nomination. He made the promise during a Zoom meeting last week with the five Republican borough chairs, including his own daughter Andrea, the Manhattan party boss.
In an interview with The Post, the 71-year-old Catsimatidis confirmed he was good for the cash, as long as it could be spent “wisely.”
The eye-popping sum would be all but unprecedented, falling just shy of the $102 million Mike Bloomberg spent in 2009 to eke out a third term, record spending for a municipal race.
“I am alarmed at how fast this city went downhill as far as our citizens feeling safe to walk around on the streets,” he said, explaining why he was mulling a second stab at the city’s top job. “I get emotional about this and that’s why I want to run because I am emotional about the well-being of our citizens and our city.”
The Gristedes supermarket mogul said he is particularly disturbed by bail reform and other efforts that he said allow violent criminals to walk the streets.
“We talk about Black Lives Matter. It’s a great statement, but the people that run it don’t care about black lives, they care about changing America and I don’t want to change America. I love America,” Catsimatidis said. “I have been on the Police Athletic League Board for 34 years and I care about the inner cities. We help the black kids and the minority kids of the inner city. Black Lives Matter don’t give a damn. They don’t give a s–t. I care.”
The die-hard Trump supporter accused protest leaders — “big instigators” — of being a front for malevolent forces either from a “[George] Soros-type” or even foreign governments.
“Somebody is paying them,” he said. “It could be the Chinese getting even for Hong Kong. It could be the Russians. It could be Iranians, because a tough US president is not what they want.”
Strong opinions and unfiltered candor aside, the fat wallet gives Catsimatidis a distinct boost over potential primary rivals and has allowed him to lock in the good will of local party grandees — like former Mayor Giuliani. Catsimatidis is currently being advised by Rob Cole, an ex-aide to former Gov. George Pataki.
“One hundred million is a game-changer,” one of the borough chairs told The Post. “It certainly brings credibility to a campaign … He absolutely can win. This is a man who has built an empire.”
Still, the chair warned against any overconfidence, and said any talk of a “fait accompli” would be “disrespectful to Republican voters.” The billionaire came in second to Joe Lhota in the 2013 GOP primary for mayor.
Catsimatidis hasn’t officially pulled the trigger, though he is widely expected to jump into the race after the presidential election in November. If elected, he plans to hand over his business empire to daughter Andrea and son John Catsimatidis, Jr.
Catsimatidis would have to contend with an overwhelmingly liberal city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6 to 1. Then there’s the optics of yet another billionaire mayor during a time of historic unemployment. At least one top Giuliani aide has said he should run as a Democrat.
Catsimatidis also has a history of diabetes and kidney disease, and some close to him are concerned about the rigors of a long campaign, amid a historic pandemic. Even getting access to him in his Midtown office requires a mask and two temperature checks. His seat at the head of a long conference table is now surrounded by a plexiglass barrier.
“I feel great,” the feisty Catsimatidis insisted. “I am down 64 pounds, and I want to lose another 20 at least.”
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