The NYC Mayoral Race

Next Tuesday, September 10th, Democrats and Republicans will go to the polls to pick their mayoral candidates for the general election on November 5th. It is possible that no Democrat candidate will get to 40% in the primary and then there will be a runoff.

There are also several independent candidates, including the tech community's very own Jack Hidary.

The Gotham Gal and I have provided financial support to several of the candidates and our giving record is public record. That said, the goal of this post is not to convince any of you to vote for a specific candidate.

What I do recommend is that all NY'ers who read this blog take the time this weekend to watch the excellent video interviews the NY Tech Meetup did with seven of the leading candidates in late July and August. All the videos are here.

If you don't have time for all seven, I would strongly suggest you watch at least five of them, Jack Hidary (I), Christine Quinn (D), Bill de Blasio (D), Joe Lhota (R), and Bill Thompson (D). Each video is thirty minutes.

These videos are as close as many of us will get to a face to face conversation with these candidates between now and election day next week and I believe it is best to know a bit about the candidates before you walk into the polls.

And if I can make another suggestion, I would encourage everyone in the NYC tech community to vote next tuesday.

For a sense of how much of an impact the NY tech community could make in the Democratic primary, consider this. In the 2009 NYC Democratic mayoral primary 330,659 people voted. That's only about 2% of the entire adult population of NYC. It is conventional wisdom that whomever wins the Democratic primary is likely to be the next Mayor of NYC. So 2% of the adult population of NYC will likely determine the next Mayor. That is nuts!

There are over 34,000 members of the NY Tech Meetup. So if 2/3 of us are Democrats (an informed guess), then that means that over 20,000 members of the NY Tech Meetup could vote in the Democratic primary next Tuesday. And that would represent 6% of the total number of voters in the last Mayoral primary. That's not enough to elect the next Mayor but it is enough to prevent a front runner from avoiding a runoff. And it also enough to propel one of the contenders into a runoff.

So please do three things between now and Tuesday; 1) watch the videos, 2) take the time to go to the polls on Tuesday, and 3) please encourage all of your co-workers to do the same. Thank you.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .At least you have resisted the temptation to make any “Weiner” headline jokes.The races — Weiner for Mayor and Spitzer for pimp dog — have been very entertaining.JLM.

    1. Dale Allyn

      It amazes me (and deeply troubles me) that these guys can even be on any ticket (especially Weiner). That even their family would vote for them is an embarrassment.

    2. fredwilson

      weiner is irrelevant. he is going to lose very badly.but Spitzer is a big deal. he is going to win and will shadow the next mayor. he will likely turn NYC into DC by antagonizing, blocking, and generally making the next Mayor’s life miserable

      1. Mac

        So, you’re saying…..”You wish he weren’t a run-for-mayor Weiner.But that is what he truly wants to be.”:-) JLM, I couldn’t resist.

      2. LE

        If you haven’t watched it already watch Client 9 about Spitzer (has him being interview) on netflix.

    3. kidmercury

      weiner is the best thing to come out of new york since mark sanchez and the buttfumble

  2. beidaren

    my choice by a process of elimination:1) a world class city can’t be the butt of jokes, -> NO Weiner2) We don’t need another Bloomberg in the city Hall -> No Quinn3) More Tax on the rich means more tax on the Middle class -> NO Blasio4) The city can’t afford more corruptions -> NO Liu5) No RepublicansSo Bill Thompson is the only choice left for me.I am hoping Thompson comes in the second place and Blasio is below 40%, Thompson can win in a runoff.

    1. fredwilson

      watch his video. he was terrible. the worst of the lot by a long shot. a total turnoff. he read from a script. ughhhhhhhh

    2. Dale Allyn

      A friend is looking closely at Lhota. Friend is fiscally conservative, registered republican, but open-minded (votes Dem and independent). Thoughts?

      1. fredwilson

        watch the Lhota video. he’s pretty credible on a number of dimensions.

        1. Dale Allyn

          downloading it. 🙂

        2. Cam MacRae

          Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always liked guys who’ve run a railroad.

          1. awaldstein

            He is the only candidate that came out against the act to shut down the subway to rescue the Brooklyn subway kittens. Lost every animal lovers vote in NYC.

          2. Cam MacRae

            Yes, that was stupid. If he wants to be a politician he has to learn to lie.

          3. Dale Allyn

            Haha. Sad…

          4. Aaron Klein

            +1 LOL.

          5. LE

            That in a nutshell is why it’s so hard to do that job. You have to pander to the public and can’t be realistic until things hit a tipping point and everyone sees you are actually right.I’m wondering if any animal lovers had been personally affected (by being late for their jobs or missing a doctors appointment or something else time sensitive) would feel the same way.People are always “mr big balls” when it doesn’t affect them or when they look at things from only their point of view “oh I would pay more at McDonalds no problem so they should definitely pay people more”.

          6. pointsnfigures

            Can’t be elected cat catcher I guess. : )

          7. LE

            I agreed with him on that. And I am an animal lover.But I’m not a fan of things that take much resources and cause pain for many for the benefit of a few.

          8. awaldstein

            The heart of every pet owner in NYC you consider a few? Your math is off my friend;). That can’t be bought but can be lost in a flash.

          9. LE

            I’m not doubting that he said the wrong thing because it will pull at the heart strings of pet owners..The choice is to inconvenience thousands to save an animal.So the people that are pet lovers (not the person who owns the pet) essentially don’t care about the effects on the people who are inconvenienced, pet owners and non pet owners.That in a nutshell is the problem with so many things in terms of the decisions that the government makes because they are knee jerk reactions to something emotional and not based in rationality and they cater to certain groups of people whose needs overtake the needs of society as a whole. So for example we need to change gun laws because there is a chance of a single child getting killed (or 10) sometime in the next n years. (I’m not a gun owner by the way). Because “1 is to much”.

          10. awaldstein

            It’s a pleasure to disagree on this one. Find what brings people together or companies together or communities together and you win to deal with issues that really matter.Logic misapplied for silliness is just silly.

          11. LE

            Otoh railroads can and are predictable because they are. Same thing and same problems every day much easier to manage than a changing environment. (I mean you don’t even have the same weather issues that you have with other transportation like buses and airplanes.)

          12. Cam MacRae

            Railways have numerous unique constraints that make them quite difficult to manage. As for the weather, it depends on your railway.

        3. Dale Allyn

          Kittens aside, I liked what he had to say. I trust no one in politics, but definitely liked his stated position on several issues mentioned.

    3. Ryan Frew

      1) Too late. You can’t make it five minutes in a conversation about NYC politics without people around the world joking about the fountain drinks.

      1. Aaron Klein

        I hope nobody made any extra large jokes.

  3. rich caccappolo

    Primaries are about turnout and turnout is about voting blocks. The polls are very hard to believe – it will all come down to which candidate can motivate NYers to get to the polls on Tuesday. Would be great to see the NY Tech community come out and make a statement as an important voting block for elections in NYC.

    1. fredwilson


      1. Vineeth Kariappa

        In the US, can a person contribute 2 opposing candidates for the same election?

        1. andyswan

          Yes. Americans love hedging.

        2. fredwilson

          yes, i could give to all of them

    2. BillSeitz

      A “community” can’t make a statement. The head of an organization can make a statement if that’s within the group’s charter.I have a hard time seeing NYTM, for instance, representing a coherent-enough group of people that it would be appropriate for its leadership to make a public endorsement on behalf of the NYTM.A number of *individuals* who are publicly recognized as linchpins of the NY Tech “community” can/should make public endorsements. *cough Fred, Albert*

      1. rich caccappolo

        two responses: 1) turnout numbers – even if split across candidates – would make a statement. Today, the tech / startup / entrepreneurial block is simply not viewed by candidates as an addressable, meaningful block when compared to other blocks like unions and Wall Street. Like it or not, that’s the way it is and I suggest that this mentality could be changed if, after the primary, the number of actual voters from this community could be calculated / identified and that number could be communicated. Believe, me 20K voters would change the perception dramatically. 2) As for support of a particular Mayoral candidate: we should all ask ourselves a set of questions: has the Bloomberg administration been supportive of our community? If so, is there a risk of progress sliding backwards with a new administration? Is there a candidate who understands the importance of this community, can effectively address the issues that are critical to it, and has communicated a sincere pledge to do so. My answers: somewhat, but not enough; absolutely; yes, Christine Quinn.

  4. andyswan

    I don’t like your math in this post. It is making the assumption that all 20,000 of the NY tech Dems would vote for the same candidate.In any event, I’m interested in this from a number of angles. I love NYC but I fear you will get a leader of much lower quality this time. :/

    1. ShanaC

      it doesn’t, it says they should vote

      1. andyswan

        Actually Shana it does:”but it is enough to prevent a front runner from avoiding a runoff. And it also enough to propel one of the contenders into a runoff.”

    2. fredwilson

      of course they won’t all vote for the same candidate, but they will probably gravitate toward one or two of them

      1. andyswan

        Ya maybe the distribution of that 20k will be far different than the distribution of the whole. Got it….good post.

    3. Aaron Klein

      The real travesty is that such a huge majority of New York tech belongs to a party committed to the confiscation and redistribution of the wealth they create.I cannot begin to imagine what incredible educational and community opportunities would begin to exist in New York through giving, if these folks were paying 20% in taxes instead of “40% and that’s the government’s job.”

      1. andyswan

        I hear ya and agree…but I’m not going to tell NYC what’s good for NYC. Hell even Louisville, KY is run by looters.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Come to Chicago if you want to learn how its done.

          1. andyswan

            oh geesh

        2. LE

          “Hell even Louisville, KY is run by looters.”One thing I realized a long time ago with people is that the idea is not to have total honesty and no chance of getting taken advantage of.The idea was not to be taken advantage of to much.That a few leaks in the boat that can be handled by the bilge pump were ok and to be expected and are part of normal functioning and to be treated symptomatically.No sense in obsessing over whether an employee is stealing a bit from petty cash or if the person who came to repair something at your house sold you a $20 part that you really didn’t need. You just want to make sure you aren’t ripped off to much.I’d rather have someone who gets the job done and spends a dollar here and there that they shouldn’t, then the person who is totally honest and can’t get anything done (because they are afraid to take any chances).

          1. andyswan

            I was speaking to their policies, not their character.

      2. kidmercury

        both major parties are committed to theft. the real travesty is that people think only one party is.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I didn’t write a bunch of advocacy for the other party. It has a bunch of problems too.

          1. kidmercury

            the implication of directing blame wholly towards one party suggest the other party is better, and that the two party system thus presents a meaningful choice.

          2. pointsnfigures

            would say that you have a better chance turning the republican party than the democratic one, purely because of unions.

          3. kidmercury

            i don’t think so, because the republicans will love a big police force and any related unions. helps them feel tough and strong. the dems will support the MTA and such. helps them feel like they are in a utopia of “free” transportation.

          4. LE

            “love a big police force”Important to have a large group of well paid people that can keep everyone else in line. No surprise that the NYC police force is as large as it can be. Lot’s of people in a confined area you need that army to make sure nothing bad happens.

          5. kidmercury

            lol….stay young my friend! 🙂

          6. LE

            Unions represent just a guaranteed income for a percentage of the population that, if they weren’t paid like that, would end up revolting and causing a bigger problem. So unions are just another form of taxation in that sense. By keeping a larger percentage of the population happy you keep things under control. In a broad sense. My theory. Essentially a way to spread the cheer to keep people “happy enough”.I’m glad that my father in law has a great NYC teachers pension that he can live off of. Otherwise he might end up being a burden to me.Put another way, Walmart and McDonalds wages are good for a percentage of the population but not for a “to large” percentage of the population.

          7. pointsnfigures

            I don’t buy the race to the bottom theory. Only works on blackboards.

          8. BillSeitz

            No GuaranteedAnnualIncome model has aimed toward a public-union level of income.

          9. Mark Essel


        2. Ed Freyfogle

          #oligopoly US’s biggest weakness is having just two parties.

          1. kidmercury


      3. Dave Pinsen

        I’m not so sure about that. To begin with, the wealthy are paying closer to 20% than 40% now anyway (at the federal level), since most of what they make gets taxed at the capital gains rate. And (relatively) higher taxes don’t seem to dissuade them from philanthropy – look at Fred, with the money he’s donated to the Academy for Software Engineering and other philanthropic endeavors.At the middle class/upper middle class level, it’s a bit different. Republicans tend to donate more to charity, and Democrats, despite calling for higher taxes, aren’t always eager to pay them themselves.

        1. Aaron Klein

          My core point is that higher taxes and a government built to do everything often makes people apathetic to solving societal problems themselves.Joe Biden is a textbook example. 😉

    4. Dave Pinsen

      It’s kind of sad and surprising that this didn’t attract a stronger field of candidates.What’s sad but less surprising is how the tide seems to have turned, legally and politically, against the sort of policing that helped make New York the safest big city in America. The years of low crime have made people complacent (particularly those who don’t remember the pre-Giuliani years), and in their complacency, they may invite a return to the bad old days.

      1. andyswan

        I think you’re right and hope you’re wrong.

      2. Salt Shaker

        What’s that saying, “the grass is always greener…”I’ve been visiting beautiful Seattle (from NYC) for he past five weeks. I’ve been totally appalled by the large number of homeless, drug dealers and deranged individuals that wander unabated in the downtown area. It’s totally shocking. The Mayor here won’t adequately address the problem and it’s sure to–at some level–damage the city’s image and economic vitality, sans Amazon, MS, etc. Seattle is so liberal it makes NYers seem like right wing Republicans! If ever there was a city that could benefit from Mayor Rudy G’s policy of “zero tolerance” to address a city’s “quality of life” issues, then Seattle is the place. Mayors Rudy G and Bloomberg weren’t perfect, but it’s hard to argue that NYC isn’t a better place as a result of their leadership. I personally don’t have the same level of confidence in the crew of candidates currently up for election.

        1. kidmercury

          the problems that the next mayor will face stem very much from the reckless and irresponsible budget policies of bloomberg and giuliani. they are also partially to blame for the cost of living (but majority of the blame goes to macro factors).

          1. Salt Shaker

            Kid, NYC’s been a fiscal nightmare for decades. It’s hard to pin the current economic climate on the last two administrations. NYC is a terribly expensive place to live, w/ home ownership avail to a shrinking pot, but it’s become a much cleaner and safer place to live. Although i don’t agree w/ all of Bloomberg’s policies, I do applaud him for being innovative and considerably less of a panderer. The folks up for the office of Mayor today all seem to be dyed-in-the-wool politicians.

          2. kidmercury

            giuliani became mayor in 1994. so yes, the problems have been going on for decades. but they cannot last forever, and the time is almost up. i believe the next mayor will find them to be inescapable, and though he/she is not the primary cause, he/she will be the patsy who takes the may be getting safer, but that is only because it is becoming a kingdom for the wealthy. so white collar criminals only. this is largely a macro problem, though bloomberg’s focus on soda sizes rather than more pertinent economic issues is in my opinion noteworthy and revelatory.

          3. Salt Shaker

            NYC is hardly Detroit, but like most big cities some of their probs are eerily similar to ours. That said, I’m quite sure Motown woukd welcome NYC’s base of tax rev. Yes, Bloomies “Big Gulp Adventure” was a tad overplayed, but many other of his initiatives had focus and relevancy.

      3. pointsnfigures

        NYC was so bad prior to 1980 that my mother wouldn’t allow me to attend college there.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          A bit of that is reflected in Annie Hall, when Diane Keaton’s title character calls New York a dying city, etc.Friends of my parents bought a 2 bedroom apartment in the UWS for $11k in the 1970s. Today, a senior Wall Street exec owns a whole floor (4 apartments) in the same building. He probably paid 8 figures for it.

          1. pointsnfigures

            was recruited to play hoops there at Columbia by Seth Greenberg. My parents were having none of it. They watched too much news on the black out.

          2. LE

            Yeah that was in the film that I just gave you a link to as well.

        2. LE

          My dad passed on investing in several things in the 70’s in NYC. We used to go for gift shows in the hot summer. I remember the city from that time very well.This is a fascinating series, from BBC I think, that shows NYC in the 70’s including the famous Gerald Ford to NYC: “Drop Dead” regarding financial collapse paper headline.It used to be on netflix, now in parts on youtube. Highly watchable and interesting:

      4. BillMcNeely

        Oh yes the stop frisk policy without clearly identify yourself as a police officer? Mmm sounds like straight out of the playbook from my friends in the Middle East!

    5. LE

      “you will get a leader of much lower quality this time”Haven’t studied the candidates but that is my quick take as well. Bloomberg is like a locomotive some of these candidates are bicycles.But in any case politics is more about persuasion and assembling the right team to advise you not about intelligence and actual capabilities. That’s why so many candidates seem so unlikely and yet they rise to the occasion and do at least an ok job (given the responsibilities).

  5. kidmercury

    does anyone know of an “on the issues” matrix page for these candidates?

    1. ShanaC

      the problems is there isn’t much

    2. kidmercury

      this page may be of interest, a little parker-ish but does faciliate comparison

      1. kidmercury

        it’s clear that none of the candidates have much of a plan for addressing the 800 lbs gorilla in the room — unions and how to keep the service coming at a price the city can afford. like everyone else cities cannot escape the simple math that spending more than one takes in is unsustainable.

  6. ShanaC

    My registration didn’t go through so I am not voting, but NYC has a problem in that many of the candidates are too similar

    1. Tracey Jackson

      Exact same thing happened to me. I reregistered when I got new driver’s license and it didn’t go through now I can’t vote.

  7. panterosa,

    Pledge2Protect are making a big deal about stopping the building of the waste transfer station at Asphalt Green. Not sure who had the idea to put a dump next to an athletics facility, but since many people I know use it, including many kids, and sometimes me too, it is a factor in my vote.

  8. WA

    Fred, you can probably send the lobbyists the way of Tower Records and Borders, if you aren’t already. On the coat tails of Rich Caccappolo’s statement…

  9. Tom Labus

    Knowing some political consultants here in NJ, their primary goal in primaries is to get people to the polls. This often involves cash on election day and some semi strong arm tactics.. It seems to work. Candidates platforms are unfortunately down the list of what matters.Cash is king in this business.

  10. Salt Shaker

    Spritzer is a very intelligent, competent guy, but he’s solely using the race for NYC Comptroller to fulfill a personal agenda. He has already indicated a desire to redefine the position and not necessarily in a good way. He’ll use this position to elevate (and clean up) his personal profile, as opposed to sincerely woring for the people of NYC. The Comptroller position is clearly just a stepping stone for him, while the other guy, Scott Stringer, although a bit shlumpy, is far more deserving.

    1. fredwilson

      can’t disagree with anything you wrote

      1. pointsnfigures

        Would love to see NYC’ers smack down Spitzer. Of course, nothing that evil ever dies.

      2. LE

        The fact that he has a personal agenda and all of that means nothing to me. To get anything done in NYC you need balls and a motive. That’s what the region responds to.It’s like Russia needing a Putin. They don’t know from anything else. NY region is the ultimate deck chairs on the titanic. It’s not the midwest aw shucks.

  11. BillMcNeely

    Thank you for encouraging people to PARTICIPATE in the process rather TALK SMACK ON THE SIDE LINES then complain for the next 4 years.

  12. surya

    I was able to win my primary when I ran for Congress in 2010. I think the minutiae and strategy around primaries are fascinating and really not well-understood. Given the small numbers that are present across the board for critical offices around the country – it’s a pretty fascinating process.

  13. jason wright

    naturally i don’t have a rascal in this race, but just how many of the electorate will sit down and watch several 30 minute autovideographies?surely what still counts is which of the candidates has the eye of the mainstream media, is promising that industry and its clients the earth, and can be controlled.

  14. nihal mehta

    thanks fred for catalyzing the #nyctech community, one that can really make a difference on election day tuesday. i hope the community will also get behind reshma saujani for public advocate (#2 to the mayor, on the same ballot next tuesday), the founder of girlswhocode, a national landmark movement to teach underserved girls computer science, started right here in NYC.

  15. William Mougayar

    I like how that NYTM video series exposes the candidates’ positions on technology. It’s a good format that other cities could emulate.

  16. Colin Beirne

    Looks like OpenSecrets is just federal election data (even-year election cycles). Has anyone found a database to look up NYC election donation data?

  17. nihal mehta

    great post to galvanize #nyctech to come out and really make a difference in this election!

  18. matthughes

    That so few people vote in US-based elections is egregious.You have to wonder how different the entire social and political landscape of the country would be if voter engagement was higher.

    1. baba12

      We don’t have a healthy democracy, we have a lot of dumb sheep & people who kill their conscience and lead the dumb sheep to be slaughtered.If the voters are getting enough of the bone with some meat on it they will not bother to vote or challenge the status quo. All is good for them.For most folks unless you are rich or poor do public policies rarely make a difference.I have lived in NYC since 1994 & for me not much has changed in terms of policy. I still get stopped & frisked, get pulled over for not being white. I accept it as a cost of doing business.

    2. fredwilson

      It pains me

  19. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Only 2% adult turnout ? seriously …. that is not even an election.Never heard of that turnout even in one of the worst political and politcally managed (illiteracy + poverty ) country like India.Shame on you NYCers.

  20. jason wright

    It’s now Friday 6th September 2013. The day of days. The day we woke up to the truth and said goodbye to our cherished values.Bullrun? Edgehill?These are Freudian slips of the most revealing kind. They reveal that we are in a de facto state of war with our governments.I hope Fun Friday will not gloss over this day. This is Fascist Friday.

  21. Jon Hoffman

    Great post Fred! Pedantic note: I think 330,659 is actually around 5% of the city’s adult population (79% of the total 8,336,697). http://quickfacts.census.go

  22. josephcohen

    fred, you should run

  23. BillSeitz

    So what do you think of Hidary’s strategy of going Independent?

    1. fredwilson

      Its a challenging way to go