Paul J. Massey Jr., a Republican real estate executive, announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for mayor on Thursday, making him Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first contender in the race for City Hall next year.
Massey, 56, co-founded Massey Knakal Realty Services, a privately-owned commercial-property brokerage, in 1988, then sold it two years ago to real estate firm Cushman Wakefield for a reported $100 million. In addition to his business career, Massey formerly served as chair of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and the James Lenox House Association, a group that helps with affordable housing for senior citizens.
“I love this city and I’m concerned about where it’s headed,” said Massey in the press memo announcing his candidacy. “I firmly believe that, with proper management, New York City’s best days are ahead.”
Reports of Massey’s possible mayoral run first surfaced in February, following the launch of 1NY Together, a political action nonprofit Massey formed in the beginning of the year. Massey referenced past mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and their “super-strong leadership” in an interview, in which he also criticized de Blasio’s agenda of progressive reforms. “This is not a tale of two cities,” he told the reporter, borrowing the mayor’s well-known shorthand for New York’s rampant income inequality. “It’s one city, and it can be great for everybody.”
The newly minted candidate also seems to have decided to bypass public financing, planning to cover the cost of his campaign with money from private donors and with funds provided from his own deep pockets, according to Massey’s website — which also states he’s an amateur boxer. Massey made it no secret that his fundraising efforts, which include pulling support from wealthy business connections, would “raise boatloads of money.”
Massey’s bid for City Hall comes at a time when Mayor de Blasio’s approval rating stands at a record low: Only 35 percent of New York City voters give him a thumbs-up based on a poll conducted in June, down from 38 percent in a pervious survey done in November of last year.
While recent federal probes into the mayor’s fundraising practices, the scrutiny surrounding the sale of a Manhattan nursing home to a real estate developer, and racially skewed policing practices in the city may pose a challenge to his re-election plans, De Blasio’s camp remains unconcerned.
“We are happy to match that record against any resident of New York City or Larchmont,” a spokesman for the mayor’s campaign told the Daily News. He made note of the city’s progress under de Blasio, citing the declining unemployment rate, improved proficiency rates for public school students, and increased affordable housing.
Nor do Massey’s peers see his run as anything but a lark: Sources in the industry have suggested that a “mid-life crisis” might’ve spurred Massey’s decision to run, as he’s not the type eager for publicity. “Mid-life” and “crisis,” however, seems coded language meaning they don’t think he’s macho enough for public office: “He lived by his wits, he made a boatload of money, and I think he’s going to be part a long line of rich guys who get taken to the cleaners by their consultants,” one anonymous broker told Politico. (Bill O’Reilly, a consultant on Massey’s campaign who was also part of Joe Lhota’s doomed bid for City Hall, brushed off the notion in the same report.)
Council member Eric Ulrich of Queens is rumored to be another would-be mayoral challenger on the Republican side.