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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Business leaders take an interest in NYC mayor race

James Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp., chats

James Tisch, chief executive of Loews Corp., chats with reporters before an interview in Manhattan. (March 5, 2013) Credit: Victor J. Blue

More than 11 years after Michael Bloomberg became mayor, some major business figures are said to wonder -- and worry -- about what will follow the billionaire entrepreneur's Dec. 31 departure from New York City Hall.

Republican Joseph Lhota won early billing as the "business-backed" mayoral candidate, having held prominent executive posts for Madison Square Garden, the Giuliani administration and the MTA.

But no mainstream candidate calls himself "anti-business," and most seek support at least from individual developers, executives and proprietors.

Kathryn Wylde, who heads the business-oriented Partnership for New York City, which doesn't endorse candidates, says: "Ultimately, the business community is concerned about continuing the quality-of-life priorities of the Bloomberg administration -- safety, improving the education system, and having decent, attractive neighborhoods. At the same time, there's concern that the mayor and the city be generally pro-growth," and avoid the temptation to hike taxes, Wylde says.

Boldface names backing Lhota include Peter Kalikow, a midtown-based fixture in real estate; James Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp.; and Kenneth Langone, chairman of Invemed Associates investment firm. More of Lhota's contributors will surface next week with a new round of required disclosures.

John Catsimatidis, the self-made supermarket billionaire who's also seeking the GOP nomination, often speaks of $7,000 worth of tickets issued each week to trucks serving his stores. Says his spokesman Rob Ryan: "The campaign is looking for support in two main segments of the business community -- civic leaders and financial leaders in Manhattan, and the small-businessmen and women of all five boroughs, the backbone of our city's neighborhoods."

Also seeking the GOP nod is Independence Party designee Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president, who envisions boosting tourism. "About 350,000 jobs are associated with the tourism industry," Carrion said at a recent forum. "We should set a goal for 70 million tourists by 2015."

Among Democrats, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has won plaudits from Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, who said "she clearly recognizes that business is an important partner in the future of the city. And I'm grateful for her strong leadership on not only lower Manhattan and [superstorm] Sandy, but for so many issues."

Even the Democrats running to Quinn's left seek some share of business karma by attacking onerous fines and regulations that afflict smaller businesses.

They seem convinced that no constituency is monolithic.


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