Sometimes, Eric Gioia Just Won’t Remain Seated

Eric Gioia won’t be kept down, even when remaining seated is part of the rules of a candidate forum, like it was last night at an event hosted by C.U.N.Y. Law School for the Democratic candidates for public advocate. This clip shows Gioia standing to deliver his remarks after the moderator, New York Times Metro Desk Political Editor Carolyn Ryan, asked him not to.

As small a detail as it may seem, the whole sitting-standing thing was the subject of some back and forth before the event, when a student organizer explicitly rebuffed the campaign’s suggestion that the candidates be permitted to deliver answers standing up. Gioia’s campaign manager, Eli Richlin, emailed the student organizer to urge him to see “the difference between the Obama-McCain town hall debates, and the old Cheney-Lieberman format, sitting around a table which gets so awkward.”

The student organizer, who forwarded me the email exchange with Richlin, said they couldn’t make the arrangement the night before the event.

The Gioia people didn’t arrive at the decision to break the rules by accident, I’m guessing. The calculation is that the image of Gioia standing up to speak helps accentuate a contrast he’s repeatedly tried to construct between his older “politician” rivals and what he hopes will be seen as his own snappy, out-of-the-box campaign.

In an email, Richlin explained the tactic to me as follows: “The old way of politics, where politicians sit behind desks and talk at voters, rather than with them, has failed. By engaging New Yorkers in the political process, and encouraging everyday people to add their voices when decisions get made, we can achieve real change. That’s the kind of campaign we’re running.”