Jonathan Trichter assisted Harry Wilson when the latter nearly defeated state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in 2010. Eight years later, Trichter is preparing to launch his own bid to become the state's chief financial officer.
Trichter confirmed in an interview with The Citizen Tuesday that he is set to launch a campaign for state comptroller. He will seek the Republican nomination to challenge DiNapoli, an incumbent Democrat.
A formal announcement will come in the next several weeks, Trichter said.
Ed Cox, chairman of the state Republican Party, first mentioned Trichter, a former Democratic operative, as a potential GOP state comptroller candidate during a radio interview with Susan Arbetter. Cox praised Trichter for a "terrific" presentation he delivered to state party leaders.
"He's brilliant," Cox said.
Trichter was a public finance banker at J.P. Morgan covering the Northeast and the state comptroller's office. A major focus throughout his professional finance career has been public pensions. He helped lead the restructuring of the public safety pension system in Jacksonville, Florida, and was part of a team selected by The Pew Charitable Trusts to provide assistance to troubled pension systems throughout the country.
In New York, the comptroller is the sole trustee of the state pension system.
Trichter connected with Wilson in 2010 because of frustration with DiNapoli's job as comptroller. Wilson, a Republican, challenged DiNapoli in the election that year. Despite a significant Democratic enrollment advantage in New York, Wilson lost by only four points.
After the election, Trichter continued to work with Wilson. Wilson founded the MAEVA Group, a corporate restructuring firm. Trichter was tasked with running the firm's municipal restructuring line.
Trichter believes DiNapoli is "uniquely vulnerable" in this year's election.
"The more I thought about the kind of candidate who could beat him and do good for the people of New York, the more I realized I was the best candidate to prosecute that case," he said.
He had conversations with Republican and Conservative party leaders about a potential statewide campaign. He also discussed it with his wife, who was supportive.
"I am uniquely familiar and inspired by the potential for the office of the state comptroller to do so much good for New Yorkers," Trichter said.
Trichter is a registered Democrat, which means he will need to obtain a Wilson Pakula to run on the Republican line. A Wilson Pakula would authorize Trichter, who isn't a Republican, to appear on the GOP ballot line.
If Cox's comments are any indication, Republicans are warming to the idea of having Trichter as their candidate to challenge DiNapoli in the general election. Trichter said he will make the case that the comptroller is a nonpartisan position.
"My campaign will be strictly professional and issues based," he said.
Doug Forand, a spokesman for DiNapoli's re-election campaign, touted the comptroller's efforts to advocate for accountability and transparency in state government and on corporate boards. He also highlighted DiNapoli's work to protect retirees' pensions, support equality in the workplace and preserve the environment.
"He's looking forward to a robust campaign to put his record against any opponent and we'll let the voters decide," Forand said.
Republicans are expected to hold their convention in May to nominate candidates for statewide offices, including comptroller.
There isn't an announced Republican candidate for state attorney general. Trichter is the lone candidate mentioned for state comptroller.
DiNapoli, a former state assemblyman, was appointed comptroller in 2007 following the resignation of his predecessor, Alan Hevesi. He was re-elected to the post in 2010 and again in 2014.