Massey, who was seeking the Republican nomination to challenge de Blasio in the city’s mayoral election this fall, cited the “extraordinary” cost of running the campaign as the primary factor behind his decision to pull out of the race.
“Unfortunately, the cost of running for office is extraordinary, and I do not see a path to raising the necessary funds to beat an incumbent mayor,” Massey said in a campaign statement released at noon today.
Despite initially out-fundraising de Blasio with an impressive $1.6 million haul over the second half of 2016—with much of that coming from major real estate industry donors—Massey’s campaign was plagued by concerns that it was spending at a rate surpassing what it was bringing in, particular given its roster of highly-paid political consultants.
While Massey continued to out-raise the mayor through March of this year, by late spring the candidate had fallen behind de Blasio, who raised over $100,000 more than Massey in a two-month period from early March to early May, according to New York City Campaign Finance Board filings.
The campaign’s inability to maintain its earlier levels of fundraising, coupled with the perception that Massey was failing to heighten his profile and attain the name recognition required to unseat an incumbent Democratic mayor, meant that he was widely considered a long shot to defeat de Blasio in November’s city election should he have secured the Republican nomination.
In his statement, Massey said he was “proud” that he “contributed to the debate on issues of importance to New Yorkers including education, housing and homelessness.” He added that he “will continue to be a spokesman for the kind of non-partisan results-oriented leadership I have been advocating for all along” and involve himself with community and nonprofit organizations focused on issues like education, which he described as “my passion.”
“New York certainly hasn’t heard the last from me,” he said.
Massey’s withdrawal from the race came just hours after debating his top challenger for the GOP mayoral nod, New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, at a breakfast forum in Midtown Manhattan. A Massey spokeswoman said his decision to end his mayoral bid was unrelated to the morning’s event.
“I am sad that Paul Massey has left the race,” Malliotakis said in a statement this afternoon. “He is a gentleman and someone who cares a great deal about our city. I wish him well in the future.” Malliotakis noted that Massey’s decision to terminate his campaign “clears the field in the race for mayor,” adding that she “will now be able to focus all [her] energies on defeating Bill de Blasio in the November election.”
A spokesman for the de Blasio campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Robert Knakal, one of Massey’s top fundraisers and his partner at Massey Knakal Realty Services before the pair sold the investment sales brokerage to Cushman & Wakefield in 2015, told Commercial Observer: “I know he is disappointed as we know he would have been a great mayor if elected. He is like a brother to me and I am here to support him in any way possible.”
De Blasio’s campaign issued this statement on Massey’s withdrawal from the race: “New Yorkers expect their mayor to stand up to Donald Trump, not imitate him. Unfortunately, Bill de Blasio’s opponents haven’t gotten the message. Today, Nicole Malliotakis echoed Trump’s harsh position on deportations and admitted voting for Trump. New Yorkers know right-wing candidates will only hurt immigrants, children, health care and working families.”
Update: This story from was updated to include comment from Robert Knakal and Mayor de Blasio’s re-election campaign.