Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

The newly-minted campaign buttons say "JohnCats for Mayor."

John Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman, took to the steps of City Hall today to formally announce his candidacy for mayor. He gave an unpretentious if occasionally awkward homily on the promise of success in the U.S. and New York. While saying he liked and respected rival GOP contender Joe Lhota, Catsimatidis described himself as a “visionary” and the former MTA chief a “maintenance person,” someone who administers a system.

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He noted that while many call him  a “grocer” only 4 percent of his diversified business is devoted nowadays to Gristedes and Red Apple, and that his oil and real estate interests account for a greater share of his investments.

He praised President Barack Obama’s historical achievement in being elected but as a Mitt Romney supporter last fall, said Obama should not have, as Catsimatidis saw it, derided those who have been successful.

A mixed crew showed up for the announcement, including Curtis Sliwa, Manhattan and Queens GOP chairmen Dan Isaacs and Phil Ragusa, ex- Councilman Allan Jennings, ex-Sen. Serphin Maltese, Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, his wife, son, and daughter (married to Christopher Cox who was on hand), and actor Tony LoBianco, who has portrayed Fiorello LaGuardia on stage and who the candidate said brought him to tears with his performance.

He didn’t seem to want to end the news conference, continuing to field press queries after spokesman Rob Ryan said “thank you” to end it several times.

To candidate Bill de Blasio’s “two cities” theme, he said “it’s one city.”  

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He said the teachers’ union and Bloomberg administration should have been able to settle their rift over teacher evaluations through persistent negotiations, in the form of locking the door of the negotiating room, ordering pizza, and staying up until 4 a.m.