Surrounded by a massive and diverse crowd on the steps of City Hall, with hundreds more unable to get in, City Comptroller John Liu formally announced his mayoral candidacy last Sunday afternoon.
To accommodate the large numbers waiting outside in City Hall Park, Liu, wearing his green tie in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, at the center of a throng of supporters and reporters, repeated what he had said earlier in front of the steps, declaring: “I am an immigrant, I am a proud American, and I am proud to announce that I am running to be mayor of the city of New York.”
The announcement was greeted with chants of “John Liu for mayor! John Liu for mayor!”
Chants were echoed once more when he said, “New York City needs to be one city.”
“One city,” the crowd shouted.
“Where we take care of the needy and take on the greedy,” Liu said, and once more the crowd picked up the chant of “One city!”
This enthusiasm for the former councilman, whose campaign has been marred to some degree by the federal investigation of his fundraising, continued for more than an hour in the two locations. It might have gone on longer if Liu wasn’t committed to other stops on a busy campaign day, making visits to all five boroughs.
“I think he has a good chance,” said Joe Gonzales, who was helping the candidate move from one place to another against a pushing crowd of onlookers and supporters. “With so many candidates in the race, there’s a good chance the white candidates will neutralize each other and make it possible for Liu to win.”
Of course, Gonzales continued, Liu would have to get a sizable number of votes from the African-American and Latino communities.
Liu, 46, faces an uphill battle as the first city-wide elected Asian, and this challenge is compounded by allegations of wrongdoing and the reported slacking of funds for the campaign.
Nonetheless, he appears as undaunted as ever.
“With your help, I’ll be a mayor who fights not only for every borough, but for every block in every neighborhood,” he said, and these words were similar to speeches many began hearing as long ago as his State of the City address at John Jay College. He stressed that he’s a mayor “who knows how to be a fiscal watchdog in the face of looming deficits, but knows that it’s never just a matter of cost, but of need.”
Seated nearby, beaming in his motorized chair, was the venerable Bill Lynch, and his presence alone was a strong indication of Liu’s serious contention. “It will be an interesting and challenging race, but Liu’s got what it takes,” Lynch said. He ought to know because it was his wise leadership that was so instrumental in getting Mayor David Dinkins into office.
Among other supporters at the event were Councilman Charles Barron, community activists Omowale Clay and Viola Plummer, and political consultants such as Luther Smith and Kevin Wardally.
“This city used to make a promise with us, that every single New Yorker can have the opportunity to succeed, and I’m going to make damn sure that that promise is fulfilled,” Liu said to resounding cheers.