While Anthony Weiner took the lead against Wal-Mart, with Gifford Miller a close second, Freddy was relatively quiet on the issue of the big box retailer. Now that he is the nominee, retailers and supermarket unions are watching what Freddy will do to advance the campaign against the box store juggernaut.
If the Ferrer campaign is smart they will seize upon this issue because it has the potential to help Freddy to reach a number of constituencies that he has yet to strike a chord with. As we have pointed out in our conservative case against Wal-Mart, there is a strong aversion to box stores in many of the city's white working class neighborhoods. That is why conservative pols like Denis Gallagher, Tom Ognibene, and Jimmy Oddo have staked out anti-Wal-Mart positions, joining their more progressive colleagues who oppose the store because of its anti-labor policies.
The anti-Wal-Mart campaign has the potential to enable Ferrer to work with and appeal to a broad-based constituency in every city neighborhood. Specifically, it will enable him to make inroads into Staten Island where Wal-Mart has proposed two sites. From the conversations we’ve had with civic leaders, parents and politicians, Staten Islanders are sick and tired of overdevelopment and retail over-saturation. These homeowners may not care about Wal-Mart’s anti-union philosophy but they certainly are concerned about the destruction of their neighborhoods through increased traffic and crime and decreased property values. It makes political sense for Ferrer to harness this neighborhood-based, anti-Wal-Mart sentiment, attending some of the upcoming Staten Island community forums and becoming more vocal on the issue.
In addition, positioning himself against the box store will allow Freddy to attack the mayor, who has already staked out the pro-Wal-Mart position. The thrust of the attack, however, has the added bonus of permitting Ferrer to paint Bloomberg as a dependable toady of the rich and powerful, a theme that we have underscored before in our discussions of Deputy Dan, Steve Ross and the BTM.