Public Advocate Candidates Clash on Asian Endorsements

Comptroller John Liu and Councilwoman Tish James today.

Comptroller John Liu and Councilwoman Tish James today.

Councilwoman Tish James rolled out the endorsement of Comptroller John Liu today, setting up a battle for the Asian vote with her rival in the public advocate’s race.

Mr. Liu joined Ms. James in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood to endorse her in the October 1 runoff election, where she faces State Senator Daniel Squadron. But less than an hour before the event was set to start, Mr. Squadron blasted out a release flaunting his own Asian support from a coalition of 30 Asian civic leaders in Chinatown and Queens, including Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

“Daniel Squadron is a tireless worker, proven problem solver and the type of passionate, progressive leader that Lower Manhattan and all of New York City would be fortunate to have as our next Public Advocate,” Ms. Chin said in a statement. “That’s why I’m standing with Daniel.”

Although Mr. Liu’s mayoral campaign failed to gain traction, he remains a popular figure across the city’s booming Asian communities. At the James event, Mr. Liu became the first mayoral hopeful to weigh in on the runoff, praising Mr. James’s constant presence at community events.

“I understand Dan represents this district and Dan has represented this district for years now … I don’t think Dan is a bad person,” Mr. Liu told reporters. “But I think citywide, as a whole city, I believe that Tish is the better candidate. As I said before, she and I have been on the circuit for years now. I have not see any candidate, any citywide candidate, go to as many events as I’ve seen Letitia James go to.”

Mr. Squadron, however, has forged his own ties to the Asian community by representing Chinatown in the State Senate. His campaign also pointed out that he won the city’s three major Chinese enclaves–Chinatown, Flushing and Sunset Park–in the first phase of the primary.

But Ms. James brushed aside a question about the relative strengths of their endorsements.

“I really think the issue is the policies and obviously I have been at the forefront of increasing opportunities for minorities, including the Asian community, as it relates to business,” she said. “You really need to look at the history and experience of candidates who are running for public advocate.”

The endorsement also served as a sign that Mr. Liu is interested in continuing some sort of presence in politics. While other unsuccessful candidates have kept out of the spotlight, Mr. Liu has been diligently maintaining a schedule of public events, though he told Politicker recently he hadn’t yet plotted his next move

Still, he made it clear that he was in demand.

“He and I have exchanged messages, yes,” Mr. Liu said we asked whether Mr. Squadron had also sought his endorsement.

Public Advocate Candidates Clash on Asian Endorsements