Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis is a billionaire, but as he made clear while announcing his candidacy on Monday, he’s not a “Mike Bloomberg Billionaire” — that is, the kind of billionaire who dresses like one. Rather, Catsimatides, who is running as a Republican, described himself as a “common billionaire,” and sported the Joseph A. Banks to prove it. “I think my wife paid $100 for this jacket,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m not wearing a $5,000 suit.” That is to say, “I feel people’s pain.”
His common touch was Catsimatidis’s overriding theme during the announcement, in which he pointed out he was an immigrant who “made it from that Greek island, to 135th Street, to the top of the business community.” He went on to explain how he understands the plight of small business owners because his grocery trucks get thousands of dollars worth of tickets from the city. Catsimatidis bills himself as a pro-business moderate, saying he’s to the left on some issues. When pressed about what, he said, “What do you want? Gay marriage? Whatever … People have the right to do whatever they want. This is why people came to America.”
With heaps of money to throw at this campaign, Catsimatidis may be a long shot but he’s sure to be a visible and entertaining one. He may have veered off a run in 2009 after Bloomberg decided to go for a third term, but that’s not going to happen twice to the guy in the $100 suit. Come on!