Dem NYC Mayoral Field Takes Shape
By Bob Hennelly, WBGO News
New York City Hall. June 28, 2013
For months City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been the front runner in the crowded Democratic Mayoral field that includes seven candidates. But this week The Wall Street Journal- NBC New York poll put former Congressman Anthony Weiner in the lead. Weiner, a late entrant, garnered 25 percent of the voters surveyed, five points ahead of Speaker Quinn. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson came in third place.
At a celebratory press conference called Wednesday to hail the back to back landmark Supreme Court rulings for Gay Marriage, Speaker Quinn sounded a little defensive when pressed by reporters about the Weiner surge.
“How do you know somebody can get something done?” Quinn asked. “ If they have done it. There are a lot of people running, issued a lot of press releases, pointed a lot of fingers. Nobody who is running has the record that I do--- eight on time balanced budgets , preventing the layoff of 4,100 teachers, keeping every firehouse in the City of New York open.”
Later in the week a Quinnipiac University poll had better news for Quinn with the Speaker getting 19 percent compared to 17 percent for Weiner. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson registered 16 percent. But with a three point margin of error, the poll bracketed the three in a statistical dead heat with two months to go before the September primary.
From the inception of Quinn’s candidacy her central challenge was how to appear as a breath of fresh air in a City feeling Mayor Bloomberg fatigue while at the same time using her close collaboration with the Mayor as exhibit A in her resume .
But critics point to Quinn’s support of Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial gambit for a third term and her initial resistance on the paid sick leave bill as evidence of too close an alignment with the outgoing incumbent. Reverend Dr. Raymond Rivera, with the Latino Pastoral Action Center, a coalition of 300 churches, says Quinn’s historical links to progressive causes isn’t enough for some voters. “She is too closely tied to the Mayor. I personally think that has hurt her,” Rivera said.
Beyond all the late night humor, former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s major contribution to the race has been going against the conventional Democratic party primary playbook that relies on inspiring solid public union support . Weiner says he feels sympathy for the city’s unionized workforce that are all working under expired contracts and are banking on retroactive raises to keep up with the city’s ever rising cost of living.
“But I think we have got to understand a financial reality of the city,” Weiner told WBGO. “We have this giant cost that has exploded for health care for workers. And that means asking workers come to the table and having a conversation about how we lower the cost of health care costs. And what I have purposed is that we are going to take real steps to reduce those costs but we also need to ask municipal workers to pay a small percentage."
Weiner’s remarks were made back stage at a well attended Mayoral forum held by the tenants at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan. The tenants in the complex of 11,000 units have been in a pitched battle with successive real estate investment firms over the future of the project.
At the forum former City Comptroller Bill Thompson got applause when he took Mayor Bloomberg to task for taking what Thompson said was a hands off approach to the roiling tenant landlord controversy.
“As we are priced out and pushed out we need a Mayor who will stand up and make sure that affordability is part of what New York City is so that generations that follow me, that follow you, are able to live in New York City and bring their families up.”
Both Mayoral contenders Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller John Liu also scored rhetorical points with the clearly anti-Bloomberg crowd.
On the way out of the forum tenant John Sicoransa said he has not made up his mind yet but was impressed by both Speaker Quinn and Public Advocate de Blasio.
“What did surprise me was Bill de Blasio," Sicoransa said. "I am a fan. But I thought he was passionate. That’s what we are looking for , a strong passionate advocate.”