I sat down recently to interview the speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, for our candidate profiles on RNN-TV.
I couldn’t help but think about when one looks at group shots of all the candidates running for mayor of New York City, Quinn stands out. All you see are a lot of men. Quinn is the only woman.
Quinn told me: “I think the world is ready for a lesbian mayor of NYC. The Supreme Court was certainly ready to listen to NY lesbians, so why should the city and country be any different than the Supreme Court?”
It has not been played up this way, but for New York City, Quinn sort of represents what President Obama did for the country. The first!
Candidate Obama played down race, candidate Quinn, who is openly gay, doesn’t necessarily talk about gender.
Is she worried whether or not New York is ready for a woman mayor who is a lesbian? With a smile, Quinn responds ‘no.’
No. No. New York is the place where many of our great human and civil rights movements were born. This is where Stonewall was born, we were an incredibly significant stop in the Underground Railroad. We’ll a city that has been a huge part of our civil rights movement. So, we are more than ready to have a woman, an LBGT mayor and I think it’s more than appropriate that the most diverse city in the world, the place that doesn’t just tolerate diversity, but celebrates it as our greatest facet would have such a mayor.
Recent history suggests Quinn might be correct.
Up until recently she was the run-away front-runner.
But when you’re number one, there’s that target on your back that comes naturally, and rivals in the race have been effectively hammering away at Quinn on term limits, as the top Democrat who enabled term number three for billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
After an effective TV campaign known as “Anybody But Quinn,” where organizations are spending money independently of the candidates’ campaigns to try to influence the mayoral race, Quinn has dropped a third of her support, and as I predicted from the day he started flirted with running for mayor, Anthony Weiner is the front-runner.
It has always been my contention, after moderating a debate for mayor in 2005 and watching Weiner steal the show live before an auditorium of people, that, scandal and all, Weiner could very well be the next mayor of New York. His personality of good one-liners and message of protecting the middle class resonates.
But a civil war could be on the way for Democrats.
Weiner told me on camera right before he entered the race that, over term limits, there is no way at all he could support Quinn as the Democratic nominee. In his words, it was a deal-breaker.
Quinn’s wouldn’t take the bait for now:
“I respect Mr. Weiner’s decision. I respect that that’s his position, and I will win without his vote.”
I told Quinn she knew my natural follow-up question, “What if Weiner is the nominee?”
“I’m not going there. Cause I’m going to be the nominee. And apparently he’s not voting for me, and life goes on.”
Translation. Calm for now, but Democrats are about to challenge Weiner in a great way. They are no longer going to wait passively, hoping that the media will do the hatchet job for them. Said another way, let the mud fly. The same way Democrats Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer did, opening the door for a guy named Michael Bloomberg.
Quinn has taken Bloomberg to court several times. There has also been some over-rides of his vetoes.
Lately she has been blasting Bloomberg over the highly polarizing issue of Stop and Frisk with the NY Police Department. Quinn says: “The facts are absolutely not on the mayor’s side. I couldn’t disagree with the mayor more. He’s dead wrong…. You don’t need to be doing unconstitutional stops to keep the city safe…. We can be the safest big city in America and still bring our police and communities together.”
But there is still the huge albatross burden around Quinn’s neck. How does Quinn answer the “term limits” question, supporting term number three for Michael Bloomberg, when it’s conceivable a Democrat could have won the mayor’s seat, and the national platform that comes with the job of being mayor of New York?
In my opinion she has found a great way to respond, that could connect with voters, using something that even a political novice could understand, and that is the gridlock in Washington.
Here is the way I put the question to Quinn.
Is it fair that your candidacy is linked to Mayor Bloomberg. I mean you can’t seem to get away from the term limits issue. People hold you responsible for his third term?
Look, I think it’s fair my candidacy is linked to my record. Part of the way if your the speaker of the city council that you get things done is working with the mayor. Wouldn’t Washington be a better place if Congress worked with the president? Wouldn’t we be in a better place if the speaker of the House of Representatives thought the president was his partner, not his political punching bag? Now the mayor and I haven’t always agreed…
“Right now. the people at the top don’t work well together, America has suffered, I’m not going to let New York suffer that way.” Quinn said.
Could any reasonable person really argue with that?
Quinn also has a great line following that New York Times article that questioned her “personality” as speaker, describing Quinn as “controlling, temperamental and surprisingly volatile.”
“If I have to crack some eggs to get to that solution, I’m going to do it everyday, and twice on Sunday.”
I do wonder if such attributes are not seen as a positive for a male candidate like they were for Rudy Giuliani, yet the establishment makes them a negative for a leading female candidate.
Forget those Rose Garden strategies and coasting through the days of Summer, this Democratic primary is fully underway.