John Lindsay Begins a Rough 1969 Re-Election Bid


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March 20, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 23

John Lindsay Throws Himself Into the Ring
by Mary Perot Nichols

John V. Lindsay has been testing the water for the last few weeks. Although it looked rough, Lindsay apparently decided he was a strong swimmer and decided to take the plunge. On Tuesday, flanked by his family, Republican politicos, and gobs of Republican money people, the Mayor announced that he would seek a second term.

The announcement was made from the austerely elegant Susan E. Wagner Room at Gracie Mansion, in sharp contrast to the five-borough tour Lindsay made in 1965, he was almost alone with his family as he made the rounds of the city.

On Tuesday, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz, Senator Charles E. Goodell, Senator Jacob Javits, and Thomas E. Dewey were on hand to demonstrate a unity among Republicans of at least the Eastern liberal establishment.

The Mayor’s pitch was a modest one: “I won’t pretend my administration has been without error or disappointment. You cannot achieve fundamental change in a city of eight million people without mistakes,” he said. But he asked to continue what had been begun in turning “the tide of physical and spiritual decay.”

Among his achievements he noted that the police force had been strengthened; “we have reversed the pollution of our air”; “we have returned our parks to the people”; “we have built housing with neighborhoods, not just for them”; and he noted that in spite of the turmoil in the schools, “I believe our goal of reconnecting our schools with the children and parents they are designed to serve is a valid one.”

Conspicuous by his absence was Lieutenant Governor Malcolm Wilson, who was reportedly “busy” in Albany. Wilson is considered to be the “eminence grise” behind the candidacy of Republican-Conservative State Senator John Marchi in the June GOP primary.

Lindsay noted in his announcement that he would seek “the nomination of the Republican Party as well as the nomination of the Liberal Party, which supported me on a fusion basis in 1965.”

Absent also was Liberal Party political guru Alex Rose. Press secretary Harry O’Donnell said, “I read in one of the columns that he was out of town.”

The Mayor criticized “reactionary elements” in the Republican Party “that seek to destroy the progressive traditions of Republicanism in New York — traditions represented by men such as Fiorello LaGuardia, Stanley Isaacs, Thomas E. Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Louis Lefkowitz, and many others.” He noted that “the forces opposing me — in concert with the Conservative Party — want to reverse” the progressive Republican tradition of winning. The Conservative Party was founded to destroy progressive Republicanism,” said the Mayor. “It tried to defeat Governor Rockefeller in 1962 and 1966, Senator Javits in 1962 and 1968, and me in 1964 and 1965.”

Rockefeller took the mike to say, “Believe me, for a long time I’ve been urging the Mayor to run again.” Behind him, the Mayor had a trace of a smirk on his face. Then Rockefeller laboriously refuted a recent Evans and Novak column which said that Rockefeller was trying to sabotage Lindsay by stealing away his chief fund raiser, Gustave Levy. The smirk on Mayor Lindsay’s face had by now turned to supressed laughter. The Mayor’s levity may have been occasioned by the belief among his followers that Rockefeller had been less than his usual persuasive self in trying to get Marchi to withdraw from the primary.

Well, the Mayor is in, but nobody is saying the water is fine.

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