Even though he’s already won the Democratic primary for the 39th District, City Council candidate Brad Lander is still learning a thing or two about “the game” -- especially the unwritten truth that any event, no matter how important or benign, could turn into a political rally.
Lander said he learned that the hard way Sunday when he suddenly found himself in the middle of a pro-Michael Bloomberg rally in Borough Park where former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was the guest speaker.
Lander, who is supporting Bill Thompson for Mayor, said that he went to the event because it was billed as a breakfast honoring Holocaust survivors.
As he tells it, he showed up and sat next to Rep. Jerrold Nadler on the dais. When it was his turn to speak, he got up and talked about two Holocaust survivors who died in recent days: Mark Edelman and Klara Lazar.
When Borough Park City Councilmember Simcha Felder walked up to speak, in came Mayor Bloomberg, who promptly sat next to Lander.
When Bloomberg got up to speak, Giuliani strutted in and took the seat that the Mayor just vacated -- leaving Lander caught between a Republican rock -- the former Mayor -- and, well, Nadler.
“The Mayor and I end up sitting next to each other and it’s slowly becoming a campaign rally,,, then comes in Giuliani,” Lander told members of the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s largest LGBT political club (none of which apparently got the invite to go to the event). “The Mayor goes up and gives an inoffensive campaign speech, but as soon as he’s done, I run.”
Lander said that he never stayed to hear Giuliani speak, which was pegged in some publications as a borderline racist diatribe that claimed if Thompson was elected Mayor, the city would fall apart.
“I was not in the room to hear his racially-tinged, fear-mongering statements,” he said in his blog. “It is no surprise, sadly, that Giuliani still thinks the way to score political points is to play on fears of race and crime.”
Bloomberg backed Giuliani’s statements later in the day, inferring that New York could end up like Detroit if Thompson was elected.
“Since the question was already about race, it sure seems like the reference to Detroit was meant to further underscore questions about African-American mayors,” Lander wrote. “Bloomberg should not only renounce Rudy’s remarks, but also clarify his own.”
To Lander, Sunday’s experience was a lesson learned about how quickly a political rally can pop up when you least expect one. Yet there are those who wondered if Lander is protesting too much.
After seeing a photo of Lander smiling on the dais next to Giuliani in a Jewish publication, Republican candidate Joe Nardiello wondered if Lander had “positioned himself for a photo op.”
“You know he wasn’t invited to sit at the right hand of Rudy,” he said. “Who’s place did he take on the dais?”
“Is this hedging bets or being one candidate in Borough Park, another elsewhere, again?” he asked. “Or is it just politics?”
Lander said that he had no idea that Giuliani was coming to the event, which was not advertised in the flyer he received.
“In my opinion, an event honoring Holocaust survivors is not a place to be politicking in the first place,” he said in his blog.
©2009 Community News Group
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