As the clock winds down to this year’s election season, New Yorkers are already looking 18 months ahead to what promises to be one of the most interesting and competitive mayoral elections to date. In a city where three-term mayors (Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg) have dominated the political spectrum for the past few decades, 2013 offers a promising opportunity for new blood and fresh ideas to mix things up in the Big Apple.
The prospects for 2013 is appropriately shaping up to be a diverse, yet nearly equally matched pool of candidates that reflect the uniqueness of the city’s population — other cities across the nation should pay close attention and take notes.
Between a ballooning pension fund that is 499% of what it was in 2002, the controversy of Wal-Mart potentially opening up shop and killing New York’s trademark mom and pop shop business environment, and a police department that is scrutinized by city inhabitants as much as it is hailed by the rest of the nation, there are a myriad of hotbed issues in place for 2013. Here is a brief lineup of some of 2013’s favorites and long shots:
Council Speaker Christine Quinn
With a whopping 20% advantage over the next viable Democratic candidate and a campaign war chest that has already reached New York City’s public campaign financing mayoral cap of $6,729,000, Council Speaker Quinn is projected as the favorite for next year’s election. Quinn, who has strong support from the LGBT community, has an aura that screams progressiveness — especially as she prepares for her wedding ceremony with Kim Catullo this Saturday. Although her campaign may be hailed as a sign of social progress and civil rights, Quinn’s highly visible camaraderie with Mayor Bloomberg is one that has shown in her apprehensiveness to the Living Wage bill and a less than cordial relationship with the United Federation of Teachers, NYC’s Teachers’ union. However, her opposition to the NYPD’s participation in the Secure Communities Program and her adamant condemnation of George Zimmerman’s actions are all notches that will offer her a world of young supporters.
Former City Controller Bill Thompson Jr.
Money makes the world go round and time lets it stack. Former Controller Thompson shocked many political observers when he was able to put up a last minute valiant effort to dethrone Mayor Bloomberg during his third mayoral bid in 2009, merely losing by a 5% margin to one of America’s richest men, let alone politicians. If Thompson has learned anything from his close lost, it is that calculated statements from the sidelines and a healthy sized campaign bank account can bolster your chances. Considering that he is no longer in office, Thompson can stand arm-and-arm with teachers, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and UFT President Michael Mulgrew in front of schools that DOE Commissioner Dennis Walcott intends to shut down and replace with non-unionized charter schools without the public thinking about his awfully lack luster job as City Controller — one that included an abysmal handling of the City’s Pension funds and a gross level of conflict of interest. Thompson is also the closest to Quinn in the campaign funds department with over $1 million. Unfortunately, a lot of that will go towards paying the nearly $600,000 he owes for illegally posting campaign material during the 2009 elections.
Public Advocate Bill De Blasio
His title says it all. NYC’s Public Advocate has “for the people” in his job description. His vocalness on the Good Job’s Bill, an act that would offer living wages to city building employees on heavily city-subsidized projects, as well as his visible stand against abusive police conduct has buttressed his image as being a common New Yorker who wants fairness for each and everyone. De Blasio also would have all the support in the world from unions, especially the United Federation of Teachers (a NYC campaign powerhouse, if you really want to bank in the votes). De Blasio has done everything in his power to stop Mayor Bloomberg from requiring the new teachers’ evaluations to be publically published, arguing, “If accountability to taxpayers and adherence to data are truly [Mayor Bloomberg’s] motives in pushing for the public release of teacher evaluations, I call upon [Hizzoner] to immediately release the evaluations for all commissioners, deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners, as well as for staff within the mayor’s office.”
However, De Blasio’s position may be a double edged sword for the most astute political observers. Considering that the Public Advocate doesn’t need go anywhere near a budget, De Blasio virtually criticizes every single cut the Bloomberg administration makes and magnifies every unions’ grievance without any consequences or means to critique the fiscal impact of his platform. What doesn’t create a melodic sound to a voter’s ears when it isn’t followed by a price tag and higher taxes?
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly
Although the police commissioner continues to vigorously deny all speculations surrounding his potential entry into the race, he remains the best, if not only hope for a legitimate Republican candidacy. The Vietnam War vet continues to receive all the accolade in the world from every New York based paper and journalist for his commitment to drive down crime rates over the past 12 years, up the NYPD’s use of technology and stomp out terrorism. With his 77% job approval rating and over 60% of New Yorkers vouching for him to run for mayor, Kelly’s mayoral prospects mirror New Jersey Gov. Chris Christies’ presidential tease. However, a Kelly campaign would also open the floodgates to a marathon of young protestors and minorities of all ages who are discontent with the NYPD’s targeting of black and Latinos in their stop-and-frisk practices, the eavesdropping on Muslim communities, and a ruthless no nonsense approach to dissipate OWS with the use of a militarized NYPD. But it is yet to be seen if any NYC-based paper would have the audacity to say anything negative or shed an impartial light on the decent sized anti-Kelly crowds.
City Controller John Liu
He was once a top three favorite for the position. However, after his campaign treasurer was named in an indictment with Xing Wu (Oliver) Pan for using straw donors to exceed the $13,000 campaign contribution limits, as well as an investigation into the acceptance of foreign donations to his campaign war chest, the city controller’s chances have become slim-to-none. But for many reasons unknown, the Taiwanese-American elected official is under the illusion that he has a shot, let alone deserves to be taken seriously. Liu was once praised for advocating for unions and their pension funds and aggressively auditing the city and its taxing policies, thus bringing the public’s attention to overpriced property values. Now, he has resorted to making overtly politically charged claims, such as obstructing Bloomberg’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” project if it didn’t make all the new yellow medallions handicap accessible. Does Liu think that the public is so gullible that they won’t realize that he has absolutely no power or authority to override any policies, especially new taxis and charter schools?
Former GOP Presidential Hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr…?
The first reasonable response to this listing should be “you are making a pitch to the Late Show, right?” While it is quite possible that David Letterman’s team will come up with a new “Who is He” Top 10 list for the non-native New Yorker, Huntsman may very well be the sort of high profile moderate Republican candidate who will make the GOP ‘s primary matter if Commissioner Kelly holds off. According to a recent tweet by his daughter Abby Huntsman, his girls are trying to “Bring Huntsman Back” into the political fold by convincing their dad to run for the mayor of New York City — where they reside. The only question that most city voters may pose during his candidacy is “who is he?”
Honorable mentions: Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D); The Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. (D); Former Governor Eliot Spitzer (I)