By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Republican mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis got into a couple of heated exchanges with audience members at a forum sponsored by the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, according to various media reports of the April 28 event. Politicker reported that Catsimatidis had sharp words with “multiple audience members” during the meet-and -greet event held at a Cobble Hill pub.
But leaders of the Brooklyn Young Republican Club charged that much of the reporting has been overblown. In a statement issued April 30 by the leaders, club members insisted that the meeting at Ceol, a pub on Smith Street, featured more than a verbal dustup.
“While the press corps certainly delivered some excitement and New York attitude to sleepy Monday morning news readers with their reporting, the meeting and discussion consisted of far more than a few sparks during a vibrant discussion of the upcoming election,” the statement read.
“Several issues were discussed, but those relevant to Catsimatidis’s experience in the private sector, such as job creation and training and energy, were at the forefront. It is with his considerable experience as a job creator, which, the candidate pointed out, makes him unique among his ten fellow candidates that Catsimatidis plans to make his appeal to the voters of New York City. Furthermore, he addressed the fact that it will take far more than the Republican base to win in the city. His ability to create jobs, bring real change to neighborhoods through private initiative rather than government handouts, and put forth a comprehensive vision for the city could very well attract the independents and ‘Reagan Democrats’ who will vote for a credible, electable Republican,” the statement read.
“Agree with him or not, anyone who has seen Catsimatidis speak knows that he will not shy away from tough issues, and he won’t apologize for his tremendous success in business, which has given him a big advantage going into the race,” the club leaders said in their statement.
Bob Capano, a longtime Republican operative who served as Brooklyn chief of staff to former congressman Bob Turner, was at the meeting and said Catsimatidis touched on several topics during his presentation.
“Catsimatidis spoke about his experiences growing up on 135th Street in Harlem, and building his successful businesses, which have creating thousands of jobs. He stated that the primary responsibility of the Mayor is to keep New York City safe and secure. Catsimatidis also shared his goal to bring the World Fair’s to New York City and all five boroughs, which would create jobs and increase tourism,” Capano said.
Catsimatidis, the founder of the Gristede’s supermaket chain is a billionaire who is putting his own money into his campaign. In sharp contrast to other candidates holding fundraiser, he has been hosting a series of “friend-raisers,” events in which voters are asked to leave their checkbooks at home and bring only their willingness to listen and consider supporting him in the primary.