Volume 79, Number 19 | Oct 14 - 20, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Quinn’s no ‘lap dog,’ should be speaker, Mike tells Villager

By Patrick Hedlund 

As mayoral endorsements continue to stack up a little more than three weeks before the election, the silence of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been deafening.

On one hand, she has been viewed as a close ally of Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his biggest enabler in the push to overturn term limits last year. On the other, Quinn is one of the city’s most powerful Democrats and would risk alienating some of her constituents and colleagues on the Council by not supporting the party’s nominee.

For his part, Bloomberg indicated last week in an exclusive interview with The Villager that he’d like Quinn’s backing. But the mayor acknowledged that her re-election as speaker remains of the utmost importance, hinting that an endorsement for him could jeopardize Quinn’s ability to retain the post.

“I would like to have everybody’s endorsement, but I will simply say this: She’s got to decide what to do,” Bloomberg said. “And I think it is important that she stays as speaker.”

While many of her Council colleagues will still likely hold Quinn’s actions on term limits against her, she could certainly benefit from some distance from the mayor down the stretch.

“People say that Chris Quinn is a lap dog — that’s not true,” the mayor added of their well-documented coziness. “She is a very tough negotiator. But she doesn’t go out and throw eggs and yell and scream, and her objective is to get legislation passed, which is what she’s supposed to do.”

In an election year fraught with political inconveniences for 10-year incumbent Quinn — who was given a stiff challenge in the Democratic primary after being attacked for straying from her progressive roots in the district, which covers Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen — the speaker’s endorsement dilemma would seem to give her the most agita in what’s proved her most tumultuous time in office.

Democratic candidate Bill Thompson, the city’s comptroller, has not enjoyed a particularly pleasant relationship with Quinn based on her loyalties to Bloomberg, but he admitted to at least engaging her on the issue.

“With the speaker, time will tell, and I’ll leave that there,” Thompson said in an interview with The Villager last week. “We’ve had conversations, we’ve spoke, and we’ll see what happens.”

Quinn has certainly taken her time in making a decision — her office stated that she has committed to endorsing at least somebody before November — but a last-minute tip of the cap could have dubious consequences.

“Late endorsements often carry more weight than early endorsements,” said Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College. “But the longer it takes, the more questions she’ll be asked on why it’s taken this long.”

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