Today’s news:

Liu putting together team for public advocate run

City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) has quietly been gathering a campaign team as he gears up for a run for the city public advocate seat, a campaign strategist said.

Liu, who has been coy about his ambitions to seek citywide office, recently hired Bill Lynch, of former deputy mayor and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as a general consultant to his campaign, according to Liu senior strategist Chung Seto.

Seto said Liu also hired Washington, D.C.−based Celinda Lake to conduct polls, Democratic firm Mission Control to handle direct mail and Jimmy Siegel — who has worked on the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D−N.Y.) and former Gov. Elliot Spitzer — to produce commercials for the campaign.

We are really putting together a talented, well−known and seasoned group of partners for what we expect to be a successful campaign,” Seto said.

Liu himself has not formally announced his campaign for public advocate, a seat expected to be abdicated by incumbent Betsy Gotbaum, but his official campaign Web site,, indicates his plans to do so.

“John will continue to ensure that New Yorkers have a public advocate who is uncompromising, independent and results−driven,” the site reads.

When asked about his ambitions for public office, Liu said his experience as a councilman over the last seven years has taught him that tangible positive change in the city is attainable and something he believes he can provide.

“The experience serving this city as a city councilman has been far more rewarding than I ever imagined,” he said. “So I’ll take a shot at it. If it works and people will elect me, great. If I don’t get it, well, I’m sure [my wife] Jenny might not be that disappointed.”

Seto said Liu will formally announce his campaign when the time is right.

“We’re taking it step by step. He has a huge budget before the City Council to deal with right now. The campaign will come in due time,” she said.

Liu has raised more than $3.1 million o secure the office, which presides over Council meetings and is responsible for reporting the failure of any city agency or official to comply with the City Charter.

Liu’s most recent six−month fund−raising totals — which cover from July to December — amount to under $100,000, significantly less than in recent periods that have seen him outpace all but mayoral candidates U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) and city Comptroller Bill Thompson among all declared candidates for city office in 2009.

“This period compared to last period may not have seen the jumps in funding that people are accustomed to with John, but we’ve really reached our ceiling when it comes to individual CFB [Campaign Finance Board] contribution limits in a lot of cases,” Seto said. “We’re proud to have over 3,100 donors.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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