Curtis Sliwa kept up the attack on councilman and fellow candidate Eric Ulrich and his perceived lack of a bona fide GOP record, repeatedly referring to him as a “de Blasio Republican.”
The latest jab comes after Ulrich raced to Twitter as midnight approached on New Year's Eve to tweet "Let me be the 1st but certainly not the last to commend @TishJames on a job well done as New York City Public Advocate...she is leaving some very big shoes to fill."
Sliwa's campaign sent out a press release soon after blasting the job Letitia James did as public advocate, arguing that she failed to hold Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Hall accountable for a number or progressive policies the campaign argues is making the city worse for New Yorkers, including policies on the homeless, letting the mass transit system fall into disarray, and failures at NYCHA.
The campaign connected Ulrich's praise of James and her record in office as proof that Ulrich will also give de Blasio “a pass” if he is elected public advocate, despite Ulrich trying to position himself as the moderate alternative in a field populated by lifelong Democrats. (Currently, 20 candidates and counting have filed with the city's Campaign Finance Board!)
And according to Sliwa, Ulrich's constituents see right through his ruse. There's this nugget from the press release: “In the streets of Howard Beach and Ozone Park, people refer to Ulrich as 'fugazy'."
(Editor's Note: Fugazy is a slang word that refers to something that is fake or damaged beyond repair. Despite popular belief that it is an Italian slang word, the etymology is unknown. Also, not to be confused with D.C.-based DIY punk rockers Fugazi. With that out of the way…)
We'll have to do some fact-checking on that last statement by the Sliwa campaign, but we'll be sure to ask some people about the councilman next time we're in one of those two neighborhoods and see if the term “fugazy” comes up.
Sliwa touted the support he has received from former congressman and former chair of the Queens Republican Party Bob Turner, as well as from former Brooklyn GOP chair Craig Eaton.
Of course, Ulrich has the support of the current Brooklyn GOP chair and the party, and while we haven't heard of an official endorsement from the Queens GOP, since it is widely accepted that Turner was ousted by Ulrich and his supporters to install their preferred chair, we have to assume that endorsement is in the bag.
Although, we have to wonder if all of this attention being paid to Ulrich by the Sliwa campaign is eventually going to backfire.
First of all, this is a nonpartisan special election, which means no candidate will be allowed to run on an established party line, and that includes “Democrat” and “Republican.” In fact, we've heard of candidates getting bounced from special elections simply because their ballot petitions included the word “Democratic.”
So it's not like Sliwa will face off against Ulrich in a primary for the chance to run in a general election. We get that he is trying to appeal to the voters who will not vote for one of the many Democrats running in the race, but Sliwa could also spend his time attacking those candidates and their records.
In fact, the only person that appears to be paying attention to the fact that Ulrich is even running for public advocate is the Sliwa campaign. It's his campaign that is keeping Ulrich in the news, as we don't think many consider him to be a winnable option at this point.
Sliwa would fire himself
And then there is the curious fact that one of Sliwa's campaign promises is that, if elected, he would abolish the office.
And that might be the most appealing part of his campaign to voters!
If you're wondering why someone would want to enter such a crowded race, how's this for a reason: eight-to-one matching funds.
Just last week, the mayor signed a measure to increase the city's already generous six-to-one matching funds program from candidates to eight-to-one, with certain restrictions on the size of the donation.
Under the new rules, any candidate that caps donations at $1,000 per New York City resident is eligible for an eight-to-one match from the city on the first $250 dollars. That means your $1,000 campaign donation – still a pretty sizable amount for most New Yorkers – is actually worth $3,000, thanks to an extra $2,000 match by taxpayers.
Under the old system, which candidates can still choose as an option, donations were capped at $2,550 per New York City resident, and the city matched the first $175 at a rate of six-to-one.
So the answer is get out there and campaign, raise some money, get a sizable chunk of matching funds from the city, and then whatever you don't spend on campaigning for public advocate, just keep it in your campaign war chest and use for an upcoming election you might have a shot at winning. Or actually want to win.
The New York Post estimates that taxpayers could foot the bill for around $8 million in matching funds in this special election. That's one top of the $15 million price tag for the special election, just to fill a job whose office has an annual budget of $3.5 million.
If Sliwa is serious about eliminating the position of public advocate, perhaps he is the right man for the job after all!