Race for NYC Mayor. Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn, or Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

The other night appearing on TV, RNN, host Richard French with seconds left to go threw a question to me, a hand grenade for NYC Politics. French asked me about the race for mayor.

My response. Well, a possible surprise candidate that could win would be Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and of course on the democratic side, especially with former Congressman Anthony Weiner out, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson would have to be the favorite to be the next mayor of NYC.

For the political insiders, I will ask the question for them, “Dominic how could you say Thompson, considering Speaker Christine Quinn has momentum right now, and her last very strong showing when it comes to raising campaign dollars?”

My answer is easy when it comes to campaign war chests. When it’s all said and done, all the major democratic candidates will max-out with the campaign finance program. In other words, with matching funds, all have the same amount of money.

I ask how could Thompson not be the front-runner. One, he’s battled tested, and, as we all know, came close to beating Bloomberg the last time around.

With Thompson in the race, it’s almost a domino effect. Comptroller John Liu, that will someday be NY’s first Asian American mayor, can’t run if Thompson’s in the race. Liu’s support with African American voters are almost off the charts, but with Thompson in, all the black vote goes to Thompson, and not to Liu. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's hope of becoming mayor is closely tied to what Liu does. Both appeal to the same progressive, union-affiliated constituency. Liu is also a strong fund-raiser. If he enters the race, de Blasio's chances would dim considerably.

It’s important to keep in mind that under the term-limits extension, Liu and de Blasio are allowed to serve two more terms in their current offices, but the down side is each would have to give up almost certain re-election all the way to 2021. In other words, do you give up the “safe” job to gamble it all and run for mayor.

What will be interesting is what Bloomberg does regarding Quinn. Does he throw his support and more importantly his money to her, directly or indirectly. Part two is if he does back her, does that amount to the kiss of death from a lame duck third term mayor.

Don’t get me wrong here, I can see Christine Quinn as mayor. She negotiated an on-time city budget that spared teachers from layoffs and firehouses from closing. Also her most formidable rival in the next mayoral race, Weiner, is out of the way. However in this current political climate, I don’t see her as mayor over Bill Thompson. Thompson will gently “tag” Quinn as too close to Bloomberg, and with voters tired of the three-term mayor, it may work.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is the huge question mark. Kelly has been a statesman for years, showing up nightly to almost every major social event in NY. You don’t do that if your only interested in being police commissioner. Question for Kelly, could he stomach being a candidate, and being forced to do what candidates do. Full disclosure, answering questions daily that you really don’t want too. It’s admirable to run a nearly 35,000 member police department, but how would Kelly deal with an independently elected city council.

What the democrats have to be careful with is Kelly’s very popular with New Yorkers and is seen as someone who could easily move over to the job of being NYC mayor. Democrats would campaign on Kelly’s “inexperience” in government. Kelly would rightly respond he’s kept New York safe, with fewer cops, and continued what was considered almost unreachable record drops in crime. I can also see a scenario where Quinn is mayor and Kelly stays as Police Commissioner or Thompson as mayor and Kelly on board as Police Commissioner.


Kelly, who served in two federal posts during the Clinton administration, could be close to heading back to Washington to cap his long career of public service by running the FBI. Word is Kelly has been told by Attorney General Eric Holder that the FBI director’s job is his for the taking. That wouldn’t come fast enough for Bill Thompson or Christine Quinn.

A run-off between the two democrats would be like walking on egg-shells. Thompson couldn’t really go after Quinn for fear of offending members of the democratic voting base. (Women, and Gay voters) Quinn for her part would be fearful of turning on needed African American Voters.