Monday, December 31, 2012

A "Common Billionaire" May Run for Mayor in NYC

It is stuff like this that helps explains part of Murray Rothbard's desire to follow NYC politics. NYT reports:

John A. Catsimatidis
John A. Catsimatidis, the Greek-born billionaire owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain, settled into a shabby conference room at his 11th Avenue office the other day and happily explained, in his wheezy, genial way, why he could be the next mayor of New York City.

“Am I a Republican? Yes. Am I a Democrat? Yes. Am I a conservative? Yes. Am I a liberal? Yes,” he said, his ringed fingers rapping the table. “We’re right in the middle. What are we? We’re pro-people. But, we’re also pro-business.”

Some ideological flexibility may be necessary when a wealthy businessman with zero political experience seeks the Republican nomination for mayor, particularly in a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic.[...]

Mr. Catsimatidis, who pondered a run on the Republican Republican line in 2009 and has formed an exploratory committee for the 2013 race, might need to do more than play both sides of the aisle if he wants to end up in City Hall.

An ample-bodied, idiosyncratic man who styles himself as a “common billionaire” — his company’s headquarters sit above a Lexus dealership — Mr. Catsimatidis is viewed with some skepticism by the city’s civic leaders, some of whom consider his political aspirations a vanity project.

He is best known as the proprietor of a less-than-universally-loved grocery store. He can be candid to the point of carelessness, recently finding himself in hot water after comparing policies to tax the rich to Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. And he lacks the C.E.O. demeanor and social radar that has guided other wealthy entrepreneurs, like Mr. Bloomberg, into elected office.

Still, Mr. Catsimatidis, despite dropping his bid the last time around, insists that he is now fully serious about a run. His vast fortune, estimated at $3 billion, would instantly make him the best-financed candidate in the race, and he has secured support from two of the city’s five Republican county chairmen[...]

Even his size, he said, could be a plus.

“People tell me, you better lose weight if you want to run for mayor,” Mr. Catsimatidis joked, with a nod toward his protruding belly. “I said, I got the Chris Christie look.”[...]

Mr. Catsimatidis struck an odd note when discussing education policy, expressing unease about the makeup of his daughter’s graduating class from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“I think close to 480 of the 580 were Asian — Asian including India,” Mr. Catsimatidis said, of the graduates. “And, it was scary. And then when you think about it, we’re going to deport most of these kids.” (He clarified that he was concerned about immigration policies that can result in the deportation of “smart kids that we have just trained.”)


  1. So basically you have a successful, street level businessman who made his fortune providing goods and services as opposed to Herr Bloomberg who hustled, bamboozled, and cronied his way to the top.

    OK, not bad.

    You also have a xenophobic, protectionist Greek whose family, just a generation ago, made up the same social stratum that all those "Asians" he bemoans sit in now.

    You can't win can you?

    1. JFF- I think you misread. He worries that these kids will be deported, since they've gained valuable (hopefully) knowledge in our schools. Not xenophobic.

  2. Hell, New York is doing far worse right now with the current mayor. Having "pro-business" Bloomberg in office seems no different than having the "people's champion" Michael Moore in office.

    Just add 100+ lbs to Bloomberg, subtract several billion dollars and you still a similiar ideology.

  3. The crack about Asians, even if well intentioned, is an open invitation for professional politicians to annihilate this amateur. The biggest problem for amateurs who speak their minds in the political arena is their propensity to commit foot in mouth. Catsimatidis will commit enough gaffs - i.e. tell the naked truth - to sink himself early in the game.