In order to mark the home stretch of election season, various East Side Republican politicians and leaders gathered in St. Catherine’s Park on 1st Avenue and 66th Street Sunday morning. There, they promoted one of their candidates most likely to flip a seat in the state legislature- doorman Lou Puliafito (R), challenger to Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright (D-Yorkville, Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island).
Due to a filing error, Seawright was disqualified from running as a Democrat in her reelection bid. This gave Puliafito a genuine chance to flip the solidly Democratic district red.
Mike Zumbluskas (R), challenger to State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Upper East Side, Lenox Hill) grilled Seawright’s fluke, accusing her of “[messing] up, and they were trying to lie about it.”
“Seawright’s running scared. Yesterday I was at the 82nd Street Farmers Market, she had seven or eight people out there. We were handing out more literature than all of them were. People are upset,” he recalled. “They really don’t like what’s going on in this city, this state, or this country. Don’t be afraid to talk to them.”
Zumbluskas continued, promising that a Republican takeover of the state legislature would lead to them overturning “nonsense, like bail reform,” sharing anecdotes of random assaults whose perpetrators were freed under the terms of the law.
“They should be in jail, and should not be let out,” he said.
Manhattan Republican Party Chair Andrea Catsimatidis agreed.
“Crime is up 300%, and I was very fortunate to grow up in a city where Mayor Giuliani was the mayor, and I’d never seen crime before. I was never scared to walk down the street, and just the other night, somebody was stabbed 900 feet from my apartment. I see crime all the time now,” she noted. “Crime is a regular occurrence in my neighborhood and everyone’s neighborhood. Women are being raped a few blocks from my apartment. As a woman, I’m terrified to walk down the street in New York City, and I don’t wanna feel this way, and I’ve never felt this way before.”
Guardian Angels founder and mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa talked about how Puliafito, Zumbluskas, and fellow attendee Judy Graham – challenger to Assemblymember Dan Quart (D-Upper East Side, Midtown East, Turtle Bay, Sutton Place) – got his vigilante group to recruit in and patrol the Upper East Side as crime has increased. He offered insights into Puliafito’s ability to represent the district, sharing their time campaigning together in their time as members of the Reform Party.
“A doorman, or doorwoman, they know everything about a neighborhood: good, bad, and ugly,” he noted. “This is a man who dares to care. This is a man who understands what an average man and average woman go through, and more importantly he understands the devastation of what crime has done to the Upper East Side.”
When NYCP asked Puliafito about his work in the home stretch of the campaign, he expressed optimism that he would win, citing a Seawright endorsement from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D), which he considered a sign of desperation. However, he also noted that he was campaigning hard in the last few weeks.
“I’ve got three weeks’ vacation, so I’m totally dedicated to a lot of canvassing, and I’m doing a lot of social media stuff,” he said. “I don’t have to work at night. You’ll see me more on the street, out in the flesh, so everybody gets to know me. I believe my value is when you see me, you’ll like me, and you’ll vote for me.”