Must Be The Money: Bill’s Backers

Check out part onepart two and part three of this series.

The 2013 Mayoral Democratic Primary is shaping up much like the 2009 Public Advocate race, and that’s a good thing for Bill de Blasio.   In 2009, those of us following the Public Advocate race sensed that its front-runner, Mark Green, was coasting to a plurality win based on name recognition, and was actually not well-liked by large swaths of primary voters.  In New York City Democratic primaries, if no candidate can take home 40% of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a run-off.  Mark Green’s three opponents were all reasonably confidently that they could beat Green one on one.   In the end, de Blasio’s late surge, fueled in large part by the labor-friendly Working Families Party, allowed de Blasio to advance to the run-off, where he thrashed Green, 62.5%-37.5%.  

De Blasio’s 2013 playbook may be similar against the albeit better-liked and far more formidable Speaker Quinn.   Though polls numbers show Quinn way ahead of de Blasio and other rivals, that whole overturning the will of the voters to grant Bloomberg a third term is not going away as an issue.   De Blasio is most likely hoping to keep Quinn under 40% in the September 2013 primary, and then beat her one on one.

This series is supposed involve sleuthing around campaign finance reports, not second-rate political hackery, so let’s dive into the numbers.  Put simply, they aren’t as exciting as Speaker Quinn’s.    First, de Blasio has only raised $2.02 million from 2,267 donors, both fewer than half of Quinn’s totals.    Second, de Blasio does not appear to be reaping heavy donations from any company in particular, though he takes in plenty of cash from real estate companies and law firms.   Third, de Blasio will be the labor candidate, and his early returns show plenty of support from local unions.  It will be interesting to see how heavily the big unions like the UFT and SEIU get behind him down the stretch.  Factors might include how success those unions have during the 2012 election and whether Speaker Quinn can be pinned down as a supporter of the anti-union efforts being headed up by Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein.

Here are some names to put with the numbers:

William Zeckendorf, the real estate mogul last seen raising big money for Speaker Quinn, gave Mr. De Blasio the maximum contribution.  Mr. De Blasio took in funds from some of New York’s most well-known lawyers and political strategists, including Harold Ickes (who he likely knows from Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign), high-profile civil rights attorneys Richard Emery, Andrew Celli and Richard Levy, Randy Mastro (“the go-to lawyer for companies suing the government”), former Council Speaker Peter Vallone; actor Steve Buscemi, and rocker Paul Simon ($4,400 contribution).

Of the current mayoral candidates, de Blasio does have the best taste in music, listing the Clash’s Sandinista and Bob Marley’s Live! as his two favorite albums.

De Blasio’s top bundlers are from the Metro Taxi Board (de Blasio lobbied hard to have the “Taxis of Tomorrow” built in New York City), a law firm and the union group Unite HERE.

Finally, on a random note,  Gina Argento Ciafone seemed to give at least $5,500 more than the max, contributing a total of $15,400.  No disrespect to Ms. Ciafone, who seems to do good economic development work with Broadway Stages, but I hope someone is paying attention to these kinds of details.

About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
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