By Azi Paybarah
August 26, 2013
In a fine example of the gratuitous use of celebrity imagery to grab voters' attention, here's the latest mailing from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, featuring the late Phyllis Diller.
"We did her as an attention-grabber," club president Allen Roskoff told me in an email. "As people get mail boxes full of lit we wanted to send something funny and memorable and have our endorsed candidates noticed."
The mailer touts the club's support of Corey Johnson, who is running for City Council, and Julie Menin, a candidate for Manhattan borough president.
The endorsement of Johnson here is actually pretty interesting, for reasons that have nothing to do with Phyllis Diller at all. He's running against Yetta Kurland, a lawyer who is, like Roskoff and the Jim Owles club, outspokenly criticial of Christine Quinn, the term-limited City Council speaker who represents the West Village and Chelsea area, and is now running for mayor.
Kurland and another candidate ran against Quinn for Council in 2009. Though Quinn won the race, she only got 52 percent of the vote.
Now, Kurland seems more skittish about advertising her anti-Quinn credentials. On July 30, her campaign sent out an email with the headline "Who's Your Mayoral Pick?" When I asked Kurland that same question, she declined to answer.
I asked Johnson a while ago who he was supporting for mayor. He also declined to answer. Johnson is young but has a long history of activism. He made national news when he came out a gay high school football player. By 2006, he was a top aide on Mark Green's 2006 race for attorney general against Andrew Cuomo. In 2009, he was one of the more prominent LGBT leaders who endorsed Michael Bloomberg for re-election. Along the way, he became chairman of Community Board 4, giving him a chance to work on a variety of local issues that would form the basis of his council campaign.