November 7, 2007


2009 mayoral campaign shaping up


By David Freedlander, amNewYork Staff Writer


The barely noticed 2007 general election passed without so much as a blip yesterday, quietly marking the beginning of the 2009 mayoral campaign.


Yes, even though a heated presidential campaign with a New York-edge looms before us, the race to City Hall is steadily gathering momentum with several all-but-announced candidates raising money -- and their profiles.


The campaign promises to be a feast for political junkies, with an exceptionally strong group in the running.


The field is far from set, and there is plenty of time for late aspirants to make a serious bid. (We're looking at you, Ray Kelly.) While it is still hard to talk with certainty, amNewYork asked several political analysts to peer into their crystal balls and tell us what they see.


The Candidate: Anthony Weiner

The Springboard: Congressman from Brooklyn

The Haul: $2,008,360*


The Quick Read: Weiner made an impressive run late in the 2005 primary when former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's campaign collapsed, then did the classy, savvy thing and stepped aside for Fernando Ferrer. The single and smart-alecky Charles Schumer protege will try to follow Ed Koch's path to City Hall, moving from D.C. to the Big Apple. He appeals to young professionals and anxious outer-borough white ethnic voters. But can he catch lightening in a bottle twice? He also has to make sure that Carrion doesn't steal white Catholic voters and that Quinn not do the same with outer-borough women. The potential presence of little-known conservative Queens City Councilman Tony Avella could chip dangerously at his base.


The Bottom Line: "He's got tremendous energy, he can raise a lot of money, and he's been through this before. The problem is outer-borough Catholics and Jews, which are his base, are all dying or moving to Florida," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.


The Candidate: William Thompson

The Springboard: City comptroller

The Haul: $3,169,394


The Quick Read: He toyed with making a run in 2005. He is the only candidate who has been elected citywide and is generally perceived to have done a good job as comptroller. He has a broad base of support among blacks, and can point to a solid record of making city life better. He is thought by some to be too cautious and devoid of the personality New Yorkers like in a mayor. He reminds many of former Mayor David Dinkins, who many New Yorkers don't fondly recall. He could be hurt by his ties to disgraced former Brooklyn Democratic powerhouse Clarence Norman. His showing could indicate the strength of black political power, which many feel is waning.


The Bottom Line: "He starts with some significant advantages, mainly by being comptroller and being elected citywide. The comptroller's office is not a notable stepping stone for the mayor's job, though," said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College.


The Candidate: Christine Quinn

The Springboard: Speaker of the City Council

The Haul: $1,383,935


The Quick Read: She made history as the first woman and openly gay person to become City Council speaker, following a career as a neighborhood activist. She's warm, personable, and well-respected. A transition from speaker to mayoral candidate would be tough, as the last two to try failed miserably. Her job keeps her in the public eye more than the other hopefuls. Her fate probably is tied with that of the city during the next two years. She must convince outer-borough women to vote for a fellow female.


The Bottom Line: "Being the first female mayor counts for something. She shows up at the debate with four guys in blue suits and red ties and she's got on a red skirt suit, she won't have to knock people over the head," said longtime political consultant Joseph Mercurio.


The Candidate: Adolfo Carrion

The Springboard: Bronx borough president

The Haul: $1,364,876


The Quick Read: The Bronx borough president announced his intentions practically before his predecessor, Ferrer, had conceded in 2005. He's the highest-ranking Latino elected official in the state, and has attracted businesses to the Bronx. He would run on a message of keeping the city moving forward economically. He must broaden his base outside of the Bronx and beyond Puerto Ricans and convince white Catholics that he shares their values. The diminishment of borough presidents' powers in recent years hurts him. He's an urban planner by training, which could help. He's counting on one of the others to stumble.


The Bottom Line: "He comes across as a very young, smart handsome guy with a lot of great ideas. If he talks a little bit more about the kind of leadership that gets the Yankee Stadium deal done he can position himself very well, but he and Billy \[Thompson\] are competing over the same base of support," said consultant Basil Smikle.


*All political contributions as of July 16, 2007. Source: Campaign Finance Board


Aside from the Big Four, here are some players who could potentially shake up the race.


Raymond Kelly, chief of Police:


An immediate favorite if he chooses to run.


Dick Parsons, departing CEO, Time Warner:


May follow fellow rich guy Bloomberg in making a run, but could get snared with questions about people's cable bills.


John Catsimatidis, CEO, Gristedes Foods Inc.:


Gets props for not being coy about his intentions, but still something of a long shot.


Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president:


Probably too parochial to be formidable citywide; affiliation with Atlantic Yards won't help.


Tony Avella, councilman from Bayside, Queens: See Catsimatidis; could play a spoiler.


Betsy Gotbaum, public advocate: Personal tragedy and an uninspired two terms as public advocate makes her an unlikely contender.


John Liu, councilman from Flushing: The city's first Asian-American councilman is a rising star in the party, but this may not be the time for him to make his move.


Copyright 2007, AM New York