2012-08-10 / Top Stories

Report: Smith To Seek Republican Mayoral Nod

Republicans Ask If It Was ‘April Fools Day’
By Howard Schwach

Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith, who has represented Rockaway for the past decade, is exploring a run for New York City mayor in 2013 – as a Republican, according to an exclusive story by New York Post reporter Carl Campanile that appeared in the daily paper last week.

According to Campanile, Smith has been in talks with Republican leaders about running on the GOP line, including a recent meeting with the state’s party chairman, Ed Cox. He has also discussed the race for City Hall with state Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay.

Campanile reported that Smith confirmed his discussions with Cox and others about a potential run for mayor next year under the Republican Party banner.

“I have had conversations exploring the possibility [of a mayoral run as a Republican] with a number of people around the city,” Smith told the Post.

The Republican response to Smith was quick and unambiguous.

“I didn’t know if it was April Fools’ Day,” said Dan Issac, the Republican Party chairman.

Republican leaders have reportedly been counting on somebody like Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly or businessman John Catsimatidis to step forward and take the party nomination, but so far, neither has committed.

Kelly says he is focused on his present job and has no political interests.

Catsimatidis said recently that he might set up a committee to explore a run for mayor.

Phil Ragusa, the Queens party chair, told reporters that he hasn’t heard from Smith. “He hasn’t called us and we haven’t met with him,” Ragusa said. “I have spoken with a few of my colleagues [since the story broke] and I haven’t heard of one who will stand up for Malcolm.”

Ragusa added, “One of the things we ask candidates is ‘have you ever done anything that would embarrass yourself or the Republican Party?’” Ragusa added. “I don’t think that Senator Smith can pass that test.”

Under state law, Smith can run as a Republican candidate without even changing his Democratic Party registration — if three of the city’s five GOP county leaders back him, which is what Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a professed independent, did prior to the last mayoral election.

In the end, after donating lots of his own money to the Republican cause, Bloomberg got the go-ahead from the majority of county leaders and eventually won a third term.

Smith is hoping that history will repeat itself, insiders say.

Smith’s policies and politics are to the right of many of the Democratic candidates in the mayoral race, Campanile says.

Smith is a supporter of stop-and-frisk to get guns off the street and he has defied the teachers union to fight for charter schools while supporting Mayor Bloomberg’s position on teacher evaluations.

The other Democratic candidates have campaigned against non-union Walmart to keep the company from opening stores in the city. Smith, who describes himself as a pro-business Democrat, does not object to Walmart.

“The crime issue is front and center. And we have to maintain New York’s status as the financial capital of the world with a pro-business, pro-growth agenda,” Smith told the Post reporter.

Smith does face some legal problems, however, problems that have been detailed in the pages of The Wave many times over the past three years.

Smith is under investigation for his ties to a shady non-profit, New Directions in Community Empowerment, which was founded by Smith and Congressman Gregory Meeks.

Both politicians had close ties to those who ran the non-profit, which was benefited with public funds from the two, funds that have since apparently disappeared.

The two have ties, as well, to a spin-off organization, NOAH-F, that was to raise money for those who came to New York City as refugees from Hurricane Katrina. While the money was raised, records show that little was actually spent on Katrina refugees.

Then, Smith and many of his associates were tarred in the Aqueduct racino scandal in which Smith attempted to insure that the development group led by his mentor, the Reverend Floyd Flake, got the billion-dollar contract.

In any case, with the recent redistricting, Smith will no longer represent Rockaway even if the Republicans rebuff his efforts to run on the party line.

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