Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is endorsing Fernando Mateo in the Republican primary for mayor.
Restaurateur and bodega worker advocate Mateo is the underdog against his better-known GOP rival, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
Flynn is not a New Yorker and his backing of Mateo raises the specter that former President Donald Trump, a Big Apple native, might get involved in the race on Mateo’s behalf, a campaign insider speculated.
Flynn touted Mateo as a backer of Trump’s “America First” agenda while slamming Sliwa as a “Never Trumper.”
“I strongly endorse Fernando Mateo for Mayor of New York City, because he understands, supports and embraces President Trump’s America First agenda. President Trump was the most pro-law enforcement President in US History and Fernando will bring America First policies to the citizens of New York City and Make New York Safe Again,” Flynn said in a statement provided through the Mateo campaign.
“He’s the right person at the right time and the only real Republican in the race and his Never Trump opponent must be stopped,” Flynn said.
Flynn is scheduled to stump with Mateo on Staten Island on Thursday.
Sliwa formerly headed the Reform Party and re-enrolled as a registered Republican last year.
Sliwa also endorsed independent candidate and “The Mighty Ducks” actor Brock Pierce for president over Trump in last year’s presidential race.
Flynn’s endorsement could be a double-edged sword.
While it might prompt die-hard Trump supporters to give Mateo a look, it could turn off other Republicans concerned over the retired US Army lieutenant general’s guilty plea about lying to the FBI concerning his dealings with the Russian ambassador.
Trump pardoned Flynn and called him innocent.
Mateo, a Dominican immigrant who started groups to aid livery car drivers and bodega owners, was thrilled with Flynn’s backing.
“I am grateful to have General Flynn’s endorsement. President Trump and General Flynn put America First and I plan to do the same for New York City,” Mateo said.
“Democrats, helped by my Never Trump opponent, have made New York dangerous again. I will make New York Safe Again.”
A Mateo source said the support from Trump allies — or the president himself — could be the “silver bullet” to turn the tables on Sliwa.
Asked about the Flynn endorsement of Mateo, Sliwa campaign senior adviser Robe Cole said, “Our campaign has the endorsement of prominent New York Republicans like George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani and [former state Sen.] Marty Golden. No endorsement will ever get de Blasio fundraiser Fernando Mateo elected in a NYC GOP primary.”
The primary for mayor takes places on June 22. Early voting begins on June 12.