John Catsimatidis plans to deploy some of his massive personal fortune to improve his standing, setting up his campaign as the ultimate test of how much credibility money can buy, according to Hunter Walker, who wrote up a Politicker profile. “Right now, you know, we’re budgeting a million dollars a month,” said Mr. Catsimatidis. “We’ll see where we go.”
That budget sets Mr. Catsimatidis up to spend at least $8 million between now and the primary, "is enough to give Mr. Catsimatidis an edge over Mr. Lhota and the Democratic front-runners, who are subject to a $6.4 million spending cap as recipients of matching funds from the city’s public campaign finance program," writes Walker.
Commenting on the latest Marist poll that showed him at 5% among Republican primary voters, Mr. Catsimatidis was fast to dismiss the data. “Look at the Marist poll; they interviewed 172 people. Give me a—how do they say it?” He bellowed for emphasis: “Give me a break.”
Mr. Catsimatidis claims he’s already spent enough to make telephone calls to about 17 percent of the city. “Look, we did 400,000 robocalls this week, we’re going to do another million next week, and then we’re going to roll out radio and television in the next couple of weeks,” explained Mr. Catsimatidis. “You know, Lhota has had a lot of public recognition as MTA chief, so his name recognition is a lot higher. So, tune in in a couple of months and tell me about the polls then.”
For his part, Mr. Catsimatidis thinks his rivals are foolish to dismiss him. “Don’t underestimate this kid that came from a little Greek island to 135th Street and rose to the top of American industry,” he said.
Following up on the last presidential elections, who some believe Romney failed to connect to voters, Mr. Catsimatidis id not concerned that his immense fortune will alienate voters. “I’m not ashamed of being successful. You know, they criticized Romney for being ashamed of it,” Mr. Catsimatidis said. “I think we’ve got to inspire our kids that we shouldn’t be ashamed to be successful.”
One of his more memorable moments on the campaign trail thus far came when Mr. Catsimatidis appeared on NY1, arguing that targeting the wealthy for tax increases was akin to Nazi Germany scapegoating the Jews.
Despite the backlash, he isn’t backing down from that comment. “I got criticism because I brought up the Jews, but you know, I’m part Jewish. I mean, call my rabbi!” said Mr. Catsimatidis. “And what I said is, what Hitler did in the ’30s, he blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s problems, which was wrong. It was wrong … Don’t pick on any group and hit them and say, ‘It’s Wall Street’s fault our country is in a tizz—or in a recession."