Liberal Party backs GOP's Catsimatidis for mayor

Surrounded by supporters, John Catsimatidis talks to the Surrounded by supporters, John Catsimatidis talks to the media during a news conference on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan last month. (Jan. 29, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Republican mayoral contender John Catsimatidis Tuesday got the backing of the once-influential Liberal Party, which wields little of its past clout but can still can offer an alternate path to the November ballot.

"It opens up another ballot line for us and gives Democrats and independents, who might not want to vote on the Republican line, an opportunity to cast their ballot" for Catsimatidis, his campaign spokesman Robert Ryan said. "The Liberal Party is . . . a viable entity that can still attract votes."

In a statement, the party called the billionaire owner of Gristedes supermarket chain "a real businessman and manager who will open the city's books" to find waste.

The Liberal Party was instrumental in Republican Rudy Giuliani's 1993 and 1997 mayoral wins. It could help Catsimatidis if he wins the Republican nomination, or keep his candidacy alive if he loses the September primary to GOP rival Joe Lhota.

However, the party lost its automatic ballot line in 2002 when its choice for governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, quit the race and received fewer than the 50,000 votes the Liberals needed. To get on the ballot as a Liberal, Catsimatidis will need to gather several thousand petition signatures.

The party's previous 2013 mayoral candidate, Republican Tom Allon, dropped out in March. The party acknowledged it is looking to Catsimatidis to help keep itself alive.

"The only thing we ask of John is that like Mr. Allon, he works to ensure that the Liberal Party has the signatures necessary to qualify for the November ballot," the party's executive director Martin I. Hassner said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, Lhota, a former MTA chairman, Tuesday announced endorsements by the Staten Island Republican Party executive committee and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).

King, in a statement, said, "The city is facing serious challenges both to its public safety and economy, and Joe is the only person in the race who will focus on creating jobs and keeping us safe."

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