The unabashedly liberal tone of the Democratic mayoral primary in New York City and the rapid ascent of tax-the-rich candidate Bill de Blasio has many in New York’s wealthiest circles in a panic. The New York Times reported that some of them are calling the situation “terrifying,” and that the question at the forefront of their minds after more than a decade of being coddled by the millionaire-friendly Bloomberg administration, is “What are we going to do?”
New York City, like much of the nation, is living with a vast divide between rich and poor. In appearances leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, Brooklyn-based Democrat di Blasio decried these inequalities, saying, “We are not, by our nature, an elitist city. We are not a city for the chosen few,” statements that have set off alarm bells among the city’s top tier of business leaders and the well-to-do.
Republican mayoral nominee Joseph Lhota’s campaign told the Times that the Republican is already making inroads with Wall Street, real estate interests and business-friendly Democrats alarmed by the “leftist” tone of the primaries, in which voters roundly rejected Bloomberg ally Christine Quinn.
Lhota campaign financial director James S. Tisch, chief executive of the Loews Corporation, said, “I’ve heard from people who would usually be inclined to support the Democratic candidate.” A fundraiser on Monday attracted 200 guests, both Democratic and Republican.
While de Blasio could still face a runoff vote, his campaign’s tax-the-rich message clearly connected with voters. Emerging from Tuesday night with a majority of the Democratic vote, the candidate emphasized a “Tale of Two Cities” message during his campaign, in which he compared the New York City experience of the wealthy versus the poor.
Lhota, a former deputy mayor to Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has painted de Blasio as a threat to the elite status of wealthy New Yorkers.
“This tale is nothing more than class warfare,” Mr. Lhota told supporters Tuesday night. “It’s this kind of thinking that brought our city to the brink of bankruptcy and rampant civic decay.”
According to the Times, billionaire David H. Koch and his wife Julia each contributed $145,000 to a PAC run by Lhota allies last week.
Michael McKeon, the PAC’s director said, “There is a fear among middle-class voters that we’re going to take a hard left turn away from the Giuliani-Bloomberg era of governance. It’s going to drive electoral support for Joe, drive financial support for Joe.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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