While Catsimatidis is touting on his Democratic background as an electability argument against Joe Lhota in the Republican primary, Goerge McDonald, who is running low in campaign funds, is doing the opposite. In an internal six-page memo leaked to the WSJ (intentionally?), the McDonald campaign has decided the path to victory is by going on offense to explain Republican voters why Joe Lhota is "simply unelectable."
"The paradoxical challenge of Lhota's campaign strategy is that to win the primary he must closely identify with Mayor Giuliani but in doing so he creates a political environment that is simply insurmountable in the general election," according to the March 25 memo sent to the McDonald campaign's finance-committee members.
The memo, according to Michal Howard Saul, cites an internal poll of likely GOP voters and public polls, said Mr. Lhota's chairmanship at the MTA is a "huge net negative," as are his positions favoring legalizing marijuana, supporting the reinstatement of a commuter tax and his willingness to keep in place Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on large, sugary drinks.
Citing a Harper Polling survey of 500 likely GOP voters (35-45K voters estimated), with a margin of error of less than 5%, the memo said Mr. Lhota has taken positions that will "disqualify him" with primary voters. About 58% of those surveyed said they were less likely to support a candidate who was chairman of the MTA and raised tolls and fares. More than 50% said they oppose decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, which Mr. Lhota supports. Nearly half said they would be less likely to support a candidate who supports the reinstatement of the commuter tax, as Mr. Lhota does.
Susan Del Percio, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lhota, denounced the line of attack from Catsimatidis and McDonald. "These are foolish comments coming from desperate campaigns," she said.
In an interview with the WSJ, Mr. Giuliani said he believes the McDonald campaign's analysis is plain wrong. "I don't think I can elect him and I don't think I can un-elect him," he said. "I don't think if Joe wins the Republican primary he's going to win it because of his identification with me....And I think if Joe can win the general election, which is going to be hard for any Republican, it will be because people in the city see the financial situation as the most critical, the way they saw crime when they elected me."
In response, David Catalfamo, a spokesman for Mr. McDonald said the memo was designed to educate donors about Mr. McDonald's path to victory and cite weaknesses in Mr. Lhota's candidacy. "The point of the memo is that—notwithstanding his tremendous career—Joe Lhota does have some challenges in the general election and, moreover, he has some challenges in the primary election," he said.