NYC Republicans privately relieved to see Trump out of White House
As President Trump looks more and more likely to head off into the sunset, many of New York’s GOP professional class are breathing a sigh of relief.
“It’s guilt by association,” said Rob Cole, longtime GOP strategist, saying the moderate NYC party has suffered for years as a result of being yoked to a president historically unpopular in a left-leaning city.
Cole — who is quick to note he voted for Trump “for the sake of the country” — is a top advisor to the Manhattan GOP and John Catsimatidis. The local supermarket billionaire has been teasing a possible run for mayor in 2021 — something Cole and others say will be significantly easier with Trump out of the picture.
“Democrats in New York won’t have a boogeyman. They can’t blame DC. They can’t blame Trump. They have to take responsibility for their own actions and when people see that it makes us more likely to win,” he said.
Without Trump city Republicans plan to steer the message away from Washington and focus on rising crime and Bill de Blasio’s unpopular legacy.
It still won’t be a cakewalk. Catsimatidis — whose daughter Andrea runs the Manhattan party — has been among Trump’s most vocal public supporters and he donated heavily to Trump’s campaign. Other potential candidates like Andrew Giuliani worked in the Trump administration and have even closer ties.
Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, another Republican contender, may be better positioned than most. The radio host said in April that he “hates Trump” and called him a “depressive,” “screwball” and “crackpot.”
New York is currently one of the bluest states in the country. It’s state legislature will be controlled by Democrats for the foreseeable future. New figures from the state Board of Elections show there are more voters who declined to enroll in any party than there are active Republicans.
Many are hoping that time can heal wounds and are banking on Trump’s toxicity in the city to wane with time.
“When Trump leaves office — if he leaves in a few months — his approval ratings will go up like it did for Obama, George W. Bush and every president that preceded him,” Ryan Girdusky, another local GOP strategist, told The Post. “George W. Bush was the president that tried to stop gay marriage nationwide and now he dances on Ellen.”
History offers some hope for the GOP in 2021 as well. In 1989 — with George H.W. Bush in office — Democrat David Dinkins managed to skirt by Republican Rudy Giuliani. In 1993 — a year after Bill Clinton took office — Rudy Giuliani came back to seize Gracie Mansion. A year later George Pataki ousted the state’s three-term Democratic governor Mario Cuomo.
Cole, who spent years as an aide to Pataki, said George W. Bush’s 2000 victory also made Pataki’s third run in 2002 considerably more difficult.
“I remember sitting in Palm Beach counting hanging chads with Pataki [during the Florida recount] and watching our polling numbers tank. In politics you blame the top of the ticket,” he said.
Kenneth Sherill, a Hunter College political scientist, said Republicans should be careful about overly rosy assessments for a post-Trump era.
“I don’t see this easing the road for any Republican in New York,” he told The Post — saying the real determining factor will be if national Republicans hold up federal aid next year to shore up the COVID-battered state.
“The question is does Mitch McConnell want to protect New York Republicans or not, and we’ll have to see,” he said.
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