The race for the most coveted of Mayor's offices begins with the Democratic Primary next year. Who are the big Dems running for the office? This post is a brief introduction to the personalities. I'll get to the policy differences in a future diary. For people unfamiliar with some of the terms used here, here is a basic introduction to New York City government...which functions more like a City-State than what most americans typically understand as local government.
Now on to the candidates:
Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council
Christine Quinn, 46, is considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. If she became Mayor, she would be the first woman and first openly gay person to be Mayor of New York, and the first Irish-American since William O'Dwyer. She is from Long Island and has represented Manhattan's Chelsea and Greenwich Village neighborhoods since 1999. She married Kim Catullo this year and the couple spend their Summers on the Jersey Shore.
Quinn has for the most part been a partner with Mayor Bloomberg's administration during her time as speaker, including helping him overturn term limits. For that, she is expected to receieve a great deal of support from Manhattan's media, cultural and financial elite. Her base of support is expected be strong throughout the wealthier areas of Manhattan.
Bill Thompson, former Comptroller of the City of New York
Bill Thompson, 59, is the former Comptroller of New York City. If he became mayor, he would be the second Black mayor since Mayor David Dinkins. He was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn...a neighborhood so legendary it needs no introduction. He is the son of Bill Thompson, Sr. who was big time Democratic Party Boss. Like most black Brooklynites, his family has its roots in the Carribean Islands rather than the American South.
Thompson has spent his political career coming up through the ranks of of the Democratic Party machine. He won his first elected office, Comptroller, and served for eight years. He was the Democratic nominee for Mayor in 2009 and lost an unexpectedly close race to Bloomberg.
Thompson has had a couple of very high profile divorce cases. He moved to Harlem in 2008 after marrying his third wife, Elsie McCabe. His base of support is expected to be in the black neighborhoods of Central Brooklyn, Flatbush and Canarsie. He might also find strong support in Southside Queens.
Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate of the City of New York
Bill de Blasio, 51, is currently the New York City Public Advocate having won the office in 2009. Mr. de Blasio is from the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and if elected Mayor would be the third Italian-American Mayor after Mayors LaGuardia and Giuliani. He and his wife Charlane live in Park Slope, Brooklyn with their two children. To my knowledge, they would be the first interracial couple to live in Gracie Mansion.
Bill de Blasio came up the old fashioned way, starting with getting elected to the Community Board in his neighborhood. Then he won a seat on the city council where he served for eight years. Then he won the Public Adovcate's job by winning City-wide. Most of the "dark horse" buzz is around de Blasio who is attracting staffers of Barack Obama's legendary Obama for America campaign to his banner. He is expected to have strength in Central Brooklyn, Downtown Brooklyn, South Brooklyn, and in various parts of Queens.
Any of these good, progressive Democrats would make a fine Mayor. New York City needs a Democratic Mayor, stat. Our little experiement with Billionaire rule has come to an end, and it needs to. The party is strong again after the disaster of the Giuliani years. We've got good, clean, strong candidates that reflect this city's diversity (although there is no major Jewish (Scott Stringer decided not to run) or Latino Democatic candidate...inexplicably!)John Liu, Comptroller of the City of New York
John Liu, 45, is the current Comptroller of City of New York. Liu was born in Taiwan and raised since age 5 in the strong and diverse Asian-American enclave of Flushing, Queens. Liu attended Bronx Science and earned his degree at Binghamton. If elected, Liu would be the first Asian-American Mayor of New York. Liu still lives in the old neighborhood with his wife Jenny and son Joey.
After working as a community organizer, Liu was elected to the City Council in 2001. He was the first Asian-American to do so and is therefore a trailblazer. Unfortunately, Liu's candidacy would be clouded by ethics problems. The FBI is currently investigating Liu for campaign finance irregularities. His campaign treasurer has been arrested.
In New York City, campaign finance laws are very strict, so Liu could be in trouble. But if he is cleared of wrongdoing, he is likely to be a strong candidate. His base of support is expected to be in Central and Eastern Queens.
Personally, I've been for John Liu until his recent troubles. I'm now leaning towards de Blasio. I met Bill and his wife at the West Indian Parade last Labor Day and I must say I was very impressed with them both. But I'm not ready to endorse quite yet. Christine Quinn would be a fine Mayor, but I'm not convinced quite yet that she isn't going to be a typical "rich white people in manhattan" centric type Mayor. Quite frankly, as bad as Guiliani was, he looked out for outer borough services with vigor. Being from Brooklyn, he knew what its like. Bloomberg has been all Manhattan, all the time and he doesn't give a shit. We've had quite enough of Manhattan. Thompson. Meh. I've always been very Meh on Thompson. I'll take him if he wins.
More to come as the race unfolds.