On the first of March the Republican Party of Brooklyn hosted a forum (the first of many, according to the executive committee) for two mayoral hopefuls on the GOP ticket – Paul Massey, the moderate Bloomberg-like contender originally from Boston, and the charismatic conservative reverend and former New York Jet Michael Faulkner – at the Dyker Beach Golf Course, located in one of the GOP’s last few strongholds in the five boroughs.
Massey started off the night gently with a light joke about his Hillary Clinton-supporting wife (which drew jeers from the very participatory audience), before moving on to acknowledging that he is running for mayor because of a sense of civic duty, particularly in response to current mayor Bill de Blasio’s embattled term in office. Overall he presented himself as a fairly moderate, sensible candidate with a conservative bent. While clean cut and respectable (if a little uninspiring), he focused mainly on de Blasio’s corruption charges (claiming that he has taken no PAC money or money from advocacy groups) and his lack of responsibility in not taking care of New York’s homelessness problem as promised (part of Massey’s issue with New York’s “quality of life” issues under de Blasio, along with the usual Republican talking points of needing jobs and to be small business friendly), as well as his own extensive experience in the real estate business rather than laying down much of a platform of his own other than that and claiming that New York City currently “lacks vision,” citing his working class roots as evidence of the fact that he would be a harder working mayor than de Blasio. As far as concrete issues go, questions from the public and the press revealed that he is pro-choice in regards to the abortion issue (a hot button topic nationally at the moment), believes that New York is a city of immigrants and supports immigration, supports help from charter schools but feels it is important to improve the city’s public school system as a priority, and that houses zoned as single family must stop being illegally converted into multi-family dwellings (a particularly contentious issue with the crowd). Predictably, he praised the New York Police Department while making it “crystal clear” he did not approve of racial profiling (despite his implicit approval of the department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy). He assured audience members that he would maintain a better relationship with the police and the state government than Bill de Blasio.
Faulker, on the other hand, brought his reverend speaking energy to the podium. In contrast to Massey’s moderate conservatism one would expect from a New York GOP mayoral candidate, he espoused that to win the mayoral race the Republican must be conservative and unlike the Democrats whatsoever (especially unlike de Blasio, who Faulkner also spent a great deal of time criticizing for his affordable housing program like Massey did). Unlike Massey, Faulker praised President Donald Trump multiple times during his speech and openly admitted to voting for him, which comes as somewhat of a surprise in a city where Trump won just over 18% of the electoral vote, showing widespread disapproval even among many local Republicans. Like his candidate, he cited his disadvantaged upbringing in the southeast of Washington, DC, as fundamental to his core set of beliefs, centered around a sense of self-responsibility. He correctly identified the fact that the GOP cannot win in New York City without reaching out to minority voters, and he is confident that he can bring those votes in despite his condemnation of “sanctuary cities” and his praise of the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” program. Main concrete campaign issues cited were school choice and support of charter and parochial schools, and support for afterschool programs for children. He continually cited his work as a reverend implementing these afterschool programs and their successes and believes these plans can be “scaled up” citywide. His main break from mainline GOP policy was his anti-Second Amendment stance that only trained professionals should own firearms and he would not support reciprocity agreements for those with licenses granted by other states brining their firearms into New York City.
Overall there seemed to be more raucous support from the crowd for Faulkner than Massey, but the mainline conservative will have an uphill battle winning any sort of general election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city with his openly anti-“progressive movement” agenda.