New York – The long and winding road to City Hall in 2013 could get crowded.
With Mayor Michael Bloomberg on his third – and presumably last – term, a full field of contenders could lead to a political clash of the titans for the mayor’s seat, observers say.
If there’s no big-name Republican or independent candidate, all eyes will be on the Democratic primary. So how will party leaders decide whose time has come?
“An older guard makes up these Democratic institutions, so I imagine there’ll be some thought to the future … and who can bring others into the party,” said Basil Smikle, a political analyst who worked on Bloomberg’s 2009 campaign. “Once you see who can raise the money, people will coalesce around that particular candidate.”
“We’ve not had a Democratic mayor since 1993,” Smikle added. “Obviously they want to pick a winner.”
Here are the top contenders:
Bill Thompson, former city comptroller
Money raised: N/A
He’s the frontrunner, says Democratic strategist Joseph Mercurio. After winning the Democratic primary in 2009, Thompson has experience in a tight race, losing to Bloomberg by less than 5 percent despite being wildly outspent by the incumbent mayor.
“He also has a demographic advantage because he’s black,” Mercurio said. “There are a bunch of white candidates who have small portions of various votes.”
Thompson is the only candidate to announce a 2013 bid. He did not return a request for comment last week.
Pro: Has won citywide office twice
Con: Unlike the last mayoral race, he can’t run on being the anti-Bloomberg and will need to talk issues
Anthony Weiner, represents Queens/Brooklyn district in Congress
Money raised: $4.87 million
The plight of working-class New Yorkers remains his chief concern, introducing legislation in Congress that makes credit card fees more transparent and helps food stamp recipients.
Weiner in 2009 decided not to run against Thompson in the primary, but his attitude might change this time without the added worry of a Bloomberg-type opponent with the money to burn.
“It’d be coy bordering on silly to say it’s not something I’m still interested in,” Weiner told amNewYork late last year about running.
Pros: Is known as a shrewd campaigner and has the biggest campaign war chest
Con: Perception that his base is not as strong as other candidates
Christine Quinn, city council speaker
Money raised: $3.13 million
Although she represents theWest Side as council speaker, she’s able to push an agenda that affects the entire city. Among her biggest issues have been women’s rights and increasing benefits for domestic partners. She is the first openly gay speaker.
Mercurio said Quinn’s support of Bloomberg, particularly his push to extend term limits in 2008, could hurt her chances as the mayor becomes increasingly unpopular.
On the flip side, she may be able to benefit from Bloomberg as a fundraising partner, he added.
Pros: Has had a strong platform as speaker and would become the city’s first elected female mayor
Con: Has not been tested in a citywide election
Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president
Money raised: $1.02 million
A spokesman said he has not officially announced his run for mayor. But Stringer has reportedly held fundraising events in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
He also has supported issues and legislation that aren’t Manhattan-centric, such as going after car rental companies that gouge outer borough consumers.
In what could be a warm up to the mayor’s race, Stringer this month criticized Quinn and Bloomberg for wanting to cut the budgets of the borough presidents and the public advocate.
Pros: Is a strong fundraiser and has been playing up citywide issues
Con: May end up splitting Jewish votes with Weiner
John Liu, city comptroller
Money raised: $513,471
Liu, a former Queens councilman, easily won the comptroller’s race in 2009, becoming the first Asian-American to win citywide office. Like Thompson before him, he focuses on fiscal issues, such as Bloomberg’s budget proposals and auditing the MTA with the state comptroller.
“John Liu is a rock star in the Asian community,” said George Arzt, a former press secretary for Mayor Ed Koch.
“I think people underestimated his strength as a candidate when he won citywide,” Smikle added. “He surprised everybody, although some people might say his time is too soon (for mayor).”
Pro: He won a citywide office
Con: His support from the Chinese-American community is a smaller demographic than other minority groups
Bill de Blasio, public advocate
Money raised: $346,541
De Blasio is also a former councilman, representing Brooklyn and coming out against Bloomberg’s term-limit extension in 2008.
“He (is from) the most populous borough, and he can now use the public advocate’s seat as a platform and set himself up as the mayor’s foil,” Smikle said.
De Blasio challenged Bloomberg on the city’s sluggish response to the Dec. 26 blizzard that left roads unplowed days after and emergency vehicles stuck.
But Mercurio said mayoral candidates can’t stake their candidacy on simply being against Bloomberg if he’s not even running.
Pros: He won a citywide office and has support from a strong union base
Con: Still relatively new in his office