New York Daily News



Democrats set sights for mayoral race in 2009




Sunday, October 14th 2007, 4:00 AM


City Controller William ThompsonCity Controller William Thompson


Rep. Anthiny WeinerRep. Anthiny Weiner


City Council Speaker Christine QuinnCity Council Speaker Christine Quinn


Bronx Borough President Adolfo CarrionBronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion



City Controller William Thompson has met with at least 15 Jewish groups this year.


Rep. Anthony Weiner regularly visits Staten Island - even though it's not in his district.


And City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has dined with dozens of deep-pocketed Democrats.


They insist they're just doing their job as public servants, but their public events and behind-the-scenes schedules obtained by the Daily News suggest the leading Democrats have another purpose in mind: getting ready to run for mayor.


"The campaign now isn't being fought on the streets. It is being fought out at the civic associations, the county dinners, the places where candidates are building a network of supporters in the city," political strategist Evan Stavisky said.


While most voters are preoccupied with the presidential campaign, potential 2009 mayoral candidates are working quietly to win union support and woo middle-class voters.


Thompson appears to be shoring up support in the Jewish community, which votes in larger ratios than other ethnic groups.


Between January and May, Thompson met with 15 Jewish groups - ranging from an anniversary celebration for a Sephardic community center to a tour of a Passover matzo bakery. He met with a handful of black and Latino groups in the same period.


In August, Thompson released a letter expressing "outrage" at a decision by some British unions to boycott Israeli goods.


"One could say Jews are a swing vote in New York City. They have helped elect Democratic and Republican mayors, and you have to work them," political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said.


Cozying up to Jewish voters could also steal votes from Weiner, who represents Brooklyn and Queens. A fixture at parades, Weiner lost a 2005 mayoral bid but emerged as a powerful contender, particularly among middle-class voters outside Manhattan.


Not to be outdone, Weiner met with 22 Jewish groups or rabbis, seven Democratic clubs - including one on Quinn's Chelsea home turf - and hit Staten Island at least four times between March and September. He was also a fixture at five union events and three Sen. Hillary Clinton fund-raisers this year.


When he wasn't meeting with crucial community groups, he held call-in town hall meetings. The last one, on Aug. 8, attracted a stunning 3,000 callers.


Weiner aides insist the calls are a creative way to hear the needs of his constituents, but the lawmaker told The News that he would launch the calls citywide if elected mayor.


Quinn, often seen as a Manhattan liberal, went to Staten Island twice last month alone - once for a 9/11 memorial and once to meet with the local chapter of the American Association of University Women.


She is more likely to be spotted in pricey Manhattan restaurants with potential donors, logging in roughly 30 such sitdowns between January and August - more than half with well-known supporters of Clinton.


Joining her at most of those meals was Quinn's adviser and longtime friend Ali Pratt, a former Clinton fund-raiser. In June, the pair had coffee with the publicist who helped organize Clinton's listening tour before she ran for Senate.


Quinn has some catching up to do. Thompson got a head start on fund-raising - he has posted the highest figures in the last few cycles and has $2.6 million in cash on hand.


Weiner has about $1.9 million, Quinn reported having a $1.2 million war chest and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión has about $1 million.


It's too soon to tell if the early networking will translate into more votes. In a News survey last spring of seven likely candidates for mayor, 45% of those polled said they had no idea whom they would back for City Hall in 2009.


Still, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly took the lead with 14% of the votes, followed by Weiner with 11% and Quinn with 9%. Carrión placed fourth and Thompson placed sixth.


Carrión, considered a shoo-in for the Hispanic vote but less well known among whites, has met with Manhattan hedge fund managers to discuss policy and has been hobnobbing with Clinton in New Hampshire.


Kelly, who received unfavorable reviews in the black community, recently surfaced at the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, fueling speculation he will run for mayor as a Republican.


Quinnipiac University pollster Mickey Carroll says the mayoral rivals are going "below the radar" to "pay attention to their constituents and other possibilities. They aren't sneaking around, but they are working."


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