Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Errol Louis interviews newsmakers from New York City and beyond on NY1's Inside City Hall program, every weeknight at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

A Day On The Campaign Trail With John Liu

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This past Sunday, NY1's Courtney Gross followed Democratic mayoral candidate John Liu as he spent a day on the campaign trail. She filed the following report.

John Liu's days are long. Very long.

On this Sunday, his day starts at 7:45 a.m. in Flushing. He has 14 stops ahead of him in three boroughs.

It's a typical day on the campaign trail for the city comptroller. At times, it's difficult to keep up.

"People say I work hard," Liu said. "I mean, there are millions of people in this city who truly work hard and have no choice but to do so. Me, everything I do is out of choice."

It's a choice that confounds some. His campaign has been pummeled over the past two years.

There were fraud convictions earlier this year for his former campaign treasurer and a former fundraiser. He is in single digits in every poll. He just lost his mentor and campaign manager, Bill Lynch, to complications from kidney disease.

But John Liu marches, or more like sprints, on. At 9 a.m., he meets with a supporter in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

"It says 'John C. Liu for mayor, the people's choice,'" the supporter tells Liu. "So what I want to do with this is make a flyer with this and then put Charles Barron's piece on the back of it."

Liu's campaign pace is fueled by fast food. He arrives at a White Castle in Clinton Hill at 10 a.m.

"White Castle never tasted this good before, and now, I know why. The lady gave me a double," Liu says. "Seriously. Look. Two. Two patties."

In between stops, he passes the time in other ways. At one point, he whistled "We Are the Champions."

He has a somewhat relaxed demeanor until the car stops and he gets in front of a crowd.

"So a real minimum wage increase. All of my rivals are happy with $9. I don't think it's enough," Liu says at a church in East New York at 11:15 a.m. "I think if we're going to raise the minimum wage, let's do it the right way."

When he finishes, he's met by Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron.

"You were great, man. You hit the issues," Barron tells him. "This is why we're with you 1,000 percent, because of what you did out there. You spoke from the heart, and you were right on on every issue. You don't have to front because it's in here. Good job, John. We're with you 1,000 percent on our way to the mayoral election."

After a quick change, by 1 p.m., Liu is marching down Sixth Avenue in the Dominican Day Parade, where he encounters a prospective voter.

Liu: Are you registered to vote?
Prospective Voter: I'm voting for you, man.
Liu: Thank you. You a Democrat?
Prospective Voter: Whatever you want me to be.
Liu: You have to be a Democrat to vote on September 10.

That was followed at 2:15 p.m. by a walk down Mott Street in Chinatown, a pocket of deep support where Liu has reached celebrity status.

Six floors up, there was a visit to a Chinese family association.

Fifteen minutes later, it was back to Queens, where Liu visited another immigrant community in Richmond Hill.

"A city like this can give someone like me this kind of opportunity," Liu said at a Sikh center at 3:30 p.m.

Next, the candidate greets supporters at a banquet hall in Flushing at around 5:15 p.m. They are supporters that have opened up their wallets, even after they were questioned by the FBI.

"All the media are going to recognize that we Asian Americans are going to exercise our power, our right to vote," says one Liu supporter.

They remain defiant.

"Now, everybody in this room is an expert in filling out campaign finance board disclosure forms, because you have done it so often. And yet, for whatever reason, they make all sorts of accusations they cannot substantiate, and they take away our matching funds," Liu tells the crowd. "Those matching funds are not just my campaigns. Those are your matching funds."

Liu only has $1.3 million left in his campaign account. He swears he can still compete against his rivals, who have about five times that.

Courtney Gross: "Do you know how much you just raised at that one event?"
Liu: "I don't know what the total is, but probably, I'd say 20 or 30."

In the meantime, Liu is honing in on immigrant communities, trying to get new citizens out to vote for the first time.

"We will work very hard over the next 30 days," he tells a crowd in Bay Ridge at 6:30 p.m.

Then, it's off to Manhattan for a 7:30 p.m. stop to a radio show hosted by head of the corrections officers' union. He stays an extra half hour and gets immediate critiques from the campaign.

"You would not imagine how many Monday night, Monday morning quarterbacks you get in this business," Liu says. "'You should have done this, you should have done that.' It's like, 'All right, thanks for the advice. I'll try to keep it in mind next time.'"

Nearing 10 p.m. it's time to recharge with chicken at a restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The owner, coincidentally, is a fan, and refuses to take Liu's cash.

They dash off to one more stop, a last-minute addition, and then it's on the way home.


 
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