Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Comptroller Picks Manager of His Mayoral Campaign by Michael Barbaro -

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William C. Thompson Jr., the New York City comptroller and a fixture of the city’s Democratic political establishment, has appointed a longtime adviser and confidant, Eduardo Castell, to run his campaign for mayor.

Mr. Castell, 44, has worked with Mr. Thompson for more than a decade, running his unlikely bid for comptroller in 2001, a bruising and at times nasty Democratic primary that catapulted Mr. Thompson into citywide elected office.

Since then, Mr. Castell has overseen government and community relations for the comptroller’s office, which is charged with rooting out wasteful spending by city agencies. Mr. Castell will take a leave of absence from his city job to be campaign manager.

In an interview on Monday, he said Mr. Thompson had the financial expertise and compassion to manage a city at the epicenter of a worldwide economic crisis.

“You need someone who can lead the city during these tough times, who has the understanding and sensitivity of what folks across the city are going through right now,” Mr. Castell said. “I think Bill Thompson is that person.”

In a jab at the wealth of the mayor, who is running for re-election, Mr. Castell added: “We are not sure that Michael Bloomberg has shown that sensitivity.”

Mr. Thompson, a former president of the New York City Board of Education who worked briefly as an investment banker, is seeking to portray Mr. Bloomberg as being out of touch with the city’s working and middle-class voters, and has cited the mayor’s decision this fall to withhold property tax rebate checks for weeks (he eventually sent them) and raise property taxes.

Last week, after Mr. Bloomberg proposed a 2009 budget that included raising the city’s sales tax, Mr. Thompson accused him of trying to “balance the budget on the backs of working people.”

Mr. Bloomberg has defended the actions as prudent and fair, calling the sales tax a last resort.

The Thompson campaign, which will participate in the city’s campaign finance system, has hired Marla Klinger as a fund-raiser, Andrew Grossman as a political consultant and Blue State Digital — the company used by President Obama — to oversee its Web site and social networking.

Mr. Castell, who has deep ties to the city’s Latino residents and organized labor, has worked for two New York City representatives.

In the mid-1990s, he served as district manager and chief of staff for Representative Nydia M. Velázquez. Before that, he was legislative director for Representative Ted Weiss.

Mr. Thompson is likely to face off against Representative Anthony D. Weiner in this fall’s Democratic primary. On the Republican side, his opponent could be the grocery chain owner John A. Catsimatidis. Mr. Bloomberg has not yet decided whether he will run as a Republican, an independent or both.