Amazon Scraps Long Island City Deal, Local Candidates React

HOST INTRO: The political fallout of Amazon pulling out of Long Island City is making its way to a local election. As Ali Swenson reports, two lawmakers in Queens are using it to stand out in a crowded race.

SWENSON 1: City Council Member Eric Ulrich is in a hurry.

((SOUND: Bustle outside Fox News.

Ulrich and his communications director are standing outside Fox News studios in Manhattan. It’s 10 a.m. and they’ve already done two interviews about Amazon. And now, they only have a few minutes before they have to catch a car.

ULRICH 1

Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, everything except the Bronx today. (0:05)

SWENSON 2: Ulrich is running for New York City public advocate — basically the city’s watchdog. Ulrich is from Queens, and he has supported Amazon’s decision to build a second headquarters in New York since the very beginning.

ULRICH 2

Amazon coming to New York City would have been a game changer. And we blew it. We slammed the door in their face, we chased them out of town, and for the folks who are celebrating today, shame on you. (0:14)

SWENSON 3: The tech giant’s announcement that it’s pulling out of Queens is drawing attention to an election that doesn’t usually get a lot of buzz. The public advocate is a little-known government position. Some people even say it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. But it’s the public advocate that holds the mayor and city agencies accountable. The office even has the ability to launch investigations. And, if something happens to the mayor, the public advocate is next in line for his job. So it should be no surprise that there are not two, not three, but 17 candidates on the ballot. Having a strong stance on Amazon has thrust Ulrich into the media spotlight.

ULRICH 3

For the 16 other candidates in this race to all come out against Amazon so vehemently, I think they’re on the wrong side of public opinion, and if you want to be the public advocate, you have to represent the interests and the values and the things that the majority of New Yorkers want you to represent. (0:14)

SWENSON 4: According to a poll in December, 60 percent of Queens voters supported Amazon coming to the city. But another candidate from Queens hoped his opposition on the Amazon deal would help him stand out.

KIM 1

My party line is the No Amazon party line. (0:03)

SWENSON 5: That’s Ron Kim. He’s a state assembly member whose campaign platform for months has been to push Amazon out. He’s also campaigning in four boroughs today.

KIM 2

I think we won. We wanted no Amazon, now we got no Amazon. (0:05)

SWENSON 6: Now that Amazon’s out of the picture, Kim’s using the spotlight to promote his political agenda. He introduced a bill that would make it tougher to give companies taxpayer subsidies.

KIM 3

They made a mockery of our democracy last year. But at the same time, it exposed to the public why we shouldn’t act this way. We need to put people over corporations. (0:12)

SWENSON 7: Both Ulrich and Kim say losing Amazon is a win for their campaigns. Kim, because Amazon’s no longer coming to New York. And Ulrich, because he’s in the media spotlight.

((SOUND: Ulrich talking about his plans to come to the Bronx. Fade in at the end of SWENSON 7, fade out at the start of SWENSON 8.

SWENSON 8: Ali Swenson, Columbia Radio News.

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