John Liu 6 Times Busier Than Rivals After Loss of Public Funds

New York City Comptroller John Liu has been campaigning six times as hard as his rivals in the mayoral campaign after NYC Campaign Finance Board decision.

The Board’s decision Monday to deny Liu up to $3.5 million in public matching funds was seen by some as a fatal blow to a campaign that had been stuck in fourth place. Instead it has spurred Liu to campaign even harder than he had been prior to the decision.

Putting a yardstick to a candidate’s campaign efforts has a speculative component. But most observers agree that in any campaign, public appearances are the best measure of a candidate’s effort level. By that measure, John Liu is working about six times as hard as his rivals.

For example, on Friday he made 12 appearances in a 15-hour span between 7 a.m. and 10 pm. Meanwhile his chief rivals put in between 0 and 3 appearances apiece — and collectively less than Liu. Frontrunner Christine Quinn made zero appearances on that day while Bill de Blasio made three and Bill Thompson made just one, according to the New York Times.

A quick rundown of Liu’s appearances shows that he made at least one visit to every one of New York City’s five boroughs:

7:00 a.m. – Greeted early morning commuters at the 116th Street subway station in Rockaway Beach.

9:05 a.m. – Toured small businesses along Beach 116th Street in Far Rockaway.

9:30 a.m. – Discussed quality health care and rebuilding efforts with workers at St. John’s Hospital in Queens.

11:10 a.m. – Visited senior citizens at the Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Center in Queens.

12 p.m. – Visited senior citizens at the Robert Couche Senior Center in Queens.

3:45 p.m. – Toured small businesses along Westchester Avenue in the Bronx.

5 p.m. – Greeted commuters at the Manhattan Whitehall Terminal of the Staten Island Ferry.

6 p.m. – Rode the Staten Island Ferry to a Yankees game.

6:30 p.m. – Met the John Liu Youth Action Team at the Staten Island Yankees game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

7:30 p.m. – Spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club’s “Unity Is Ours” reception at Manhattan’s Cathedral Parkway Towers.

8:15 p.m. – Attended the Dominican Day Parade reception at the 809 Lounge in Manhattan.

9:30 p.m. Greeted voters at Celebrate Brooklyn! concert at the Prospect Park Bandshell.

By one estimate the loss of $3.5 million worth of TV advertising is worth about 100 million impressions. Counting a personal sighting or contact as equivalent to 10 viewings of a TV commercial, Liu would have to put himself in front of a New Yorker 10 million more times than his rivals to offset the loss.

According to Friday’s Huffpost Pollster Liu was backed by only 6.3% of likely voters, sliding him down to 5th place behind Quinn (24.8%), Bill Thompson (16.9%), Bill de Blasio (14.2%) and even Anthony Weinter (12.0%).

Liu has proven himself to be skilled at engineering last-minute comebacks. In late August of 2009, just two weeks before the democratic primary — the main event in a heavily democratic city — the Quinnipiac poll showed Liu with only 16% support for his bid to become comptroller. In the primary he ended up getting 38% of the votes to set up a two-man runoff against second-place votegetter David Yassky. Liu’s main edge came from carrying his home borough Queens (with a population of 2,272.771) and the largely Latino and Black Bronx (1,408,473) while Yassky carried Manhattan.

The hits his campaign has taken in recent months hasn’t erased the advantages that helped Liu pull out his 2009 win — and he’s had four more years of practice exploiting them. Liu’s shift into hyperdrive in the final weeks before the primary may be able to dig him out of the even bigger hole in which he finds himself this time around.