It wasn’t so long ago that we said a reluctant farewell to John Catsimatidis, grocery store magnate, unsuccessful mayoral candidate, and profoundly weird dude. Oh, sure, he’s popped up here and there–writing a heartfelt, creatively spaced goodbye poem on Facebook, bizarrely insisting that Rudy Giuliani owes him $210,000 from the former mayor’s failed presidential bid–but things just aren’t the same since he lost to Lhota in the Republican primary. Happily, he reappeared for a moment this morning on Curtis Sliwa’s radio show, to offer Lhota some sterling advice: When your campaign flounders, just write yourself a check.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Sliwa, he’s the founder of the Guardian Angels, the red-bereted guys who stalked around the subway in the ’80s, um, wearing red berets (their stated goal was to prevent muggings and other violent crime). Sliwa still has his special hat, but in recent years, he’s made a second name for himself as a radio show host and sometime used-car hawker. His show nets some surprisingly high-profile political guests: Bill de Blasio came in on Monday, while Eliot Spitzer, Scott Stringer, and virtually everyone else who was campaigning this summer have also stopped by.
The only exception is Joe Lhota, who hasn’t been on Sliwa’s program since May, over five months ago. Sliwa claims he’s now “persona non grata” with the Lhota campaign for endorsing Catsimatidis, one of Sliwa’s most frequent guests. Undeterred, this morning, Sliwa and Catsimatidis chatted about Lhota’s campaign, and what he needs to do to make up that gigantic lead de Blasio’s currently holding. The answer, in Catsimatidis’ mind, was pretty simple.
“I think Joe has over six or seven million in cash personally,” the Cat Man said. “He has to write a check and loan his campaign money.” Nothing major, he added, “two or three million.”
He said it again a few minutes later: Lhota “has to write the check … out of his own account, like I did, support himself and get his message out there. Then he’ll have a decent chance of overcoming the difference in the election.”
That was definitely Cats’ strategy in the lead-up to the primaries. According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, he spent $10.4 million to get not-elected, a number, the Wall Street Journal notes, only approached by one other candidate, Eliot Spitzer, who, as you may recall, also came in second.
And while Lhota’s recently been blasting Bill de Blasio for being a “Marxist” “Democratic Socialist,” and fuming over de Blasio’s trips to Cuba and Nicaragua in the ’80s, Catsimatidis was surprisingly gentle.
“I went to Havana on a religious mission,” he told Sliwa. “And I went there previously on a hoot. Young people do things on a hoot sometimes. Thirty years ago is a long time.”
When asked by Sliwa if he and Lhota might join together for a “unity rally,” Cats, for once, didn’t have much to say. We miss you, big guy.