Tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary stormed into the mayor’s race this week with much fanfare, claiming to have already raised $450,000 and vowing to win the top job at City Hall.
But Mr. Hidary, who says he’s registered in the Independence Party, won’t be competing in his party’s primary–or any primary. Instead, he’s petitioning on his own “Jobs and Education Party” on the November ballot. This fact alone will mean a sharply uphill battle in getting a significant number of votes.
Political observers expect the vast majority of voters in this year’s races to cast their votes on the major party lines–Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Independence, Working Families and Green–just like they always have. For instance, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, although technically “independent,” ran for re-election in 2009 with the Republican and Independence lines. But Mr. Hidary, who dropped by the The New York Observer office last week, insisted he’ll do just fine come Election Day regardless.
“I think that in this particular race, in this particular year, many new possibilities exist that did not exist in other years,” he said when directly asked about how he’d overcome his ballot placement. “I think Mike Bloomberg’s successful track record …. as mayor for 12 years has, I believe, conditioned the people of New York to the the idea … that an independent, business-oriented candidate can successfully run the city.”
In discussing his path to victory, Mr. Hidary said he has “a lot of core constituencies across New York City,” citing fellow Brooklynites, parts of the Jewish community, where his surname is well-known, as well as entrepreneurs and immigrants. “My own family came here as immigrants. And now it’s been a hundred years since we’ve been here,” he noted.
In other interviews, Mr. Hidary has elaborated on why this year had provided him an opening. “When I saw what’s happening in New York City where the current Democratic candidates are really just marginalizing themselves and basically pandering for special interest endorsements, I think New Yorkers are just done with that,” he told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer earlier this week.
However, Mr. Hidary, who has touted himself as “socially progressive” and “fiscally sound” and focuses his barbs almost exclusively against the field of Democrats, finds his message strongly overlapping with the Republican and Independence candidates for mayor, all of whom are socially progressive on issues like abortion and gay marriage and fiscally conservative when it comes to the city budget. Mr. Lhota is even petitioning to be on a third, “Education First” party, that sounds similar to Mr. Hidary’s, while fellow Republican John Catsimatidis, a billionaire businessman, has his own “Jobs Jobs Jobs” line.
When asked about this overlap, Mr. Hidary suggested the Independence Party’s candidate, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, hadn’t filed enough valid signatures to make it on the ballot and that the Republicans don’t share his experience or vision. (Mr. Carrión has filed more than 5,000 signatures)
“I’m the only one who can go to Silicon Valley, as an example, and bring more Googles here. Google has 2,500 plus employees in Chelsea. It has spent 1.8 billion dollars buying a building,” argued Mr. Hiddary, who bubbles with policy proposals like “staycation” hotels in Coney Island, giving particular passion to growing the city’s technology industry. “Let’s bring more Facebook employees. More Facebook offices. Twitter offices. HP. Going on down the road.”
Politicker further pressed the aspiring mayor on how he’ll distinguish himself from Mr. Lhota or Mr. Catsimatidis in November.
“I come from Brooklyn. I come from near Coney Island. I come from the outer boroughs. I come from a place that is different from the other candidates,” he replied, declaring that Mr. Lhota “did not create a company … Being an entrepreneur is essential, I think, to the story of New York City.” (For what it’s worth, Mr. Lhota was born in the Bronx and lives in Brooklyn while Mr. Catsimatidis has helped create at least one major company.)
“Then combine that,” he added, “with 15 plus years of public service where I did a range of core things in the city and nationally.”