Tish James has Options; John Liu has No Options

Things are looking up for CM Tish James of the 35th CD in Brooklyn.  Her campaign for Public Advocate is getting a lot of press, she doesn’t seem to be in danger of being arrested anytime soon, and she has choices.

She can continue her current ostensible run for the office her old friend Bill de Blasio occupies now.  She would likely make a good Public Advocate, notwithstanding the fact that the office was hacked apart from two sides by Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg, whose scorn for the position was so deep he called publicly for its abolition.  Any new Public Advocate has the advantage of having very few predecessors who have done much of anything before, so the role is filled with protean promise.

In actuality, however, the Public Advocate, much like the vacancy of the Vice-Presidency, is basically a living body to replace the Executive if he dies.  The PA may as well be suspended from the ceiling and fed by tubes.

But it is a city-wide elected office and offers public exposure.  So there are reasons to want it.  But the question everyone is asking now is whether CM James has a real shot.  She is behind Senator Dan Squadron and never-elected Girl Who Codes Reshma Saujani in fundraising.  So why fight a bitter expensive battle just to give your wealthier opponents a runoff?

Ever since Senator Eric Adams was revealed as one of the honored and recorded guests at salon Shirley Huntley it has been rumored that he might drop out of the Brooklyn BP race and give CM James a clear shot to fill the mighty shoes of Marty Markowitz.  This is the smart money position.

I have another scenario in mind, and one that Ede Fox and Laurie Cumbo won’t like one bit.  I see Tish James dropping out of the PA race and running for a third term in the Council.  After all, she is amazingly popular in the 35th CD: in 2009 she won her primary by the biggest margin of any Council election.  In 2003 she was elected in a special on the WFP line alone, the first third-party Council Member since the Abe Beame administration.

CM James would have, if I am doing my arithmetic right, more seniority than any other Council Member.  She is a long shot for Speaker, but she could have virtually her pick of committee assignments, even Finance.  And she would be set up for a run in 2017 for…whatever she wants to do next.

So you heard it here first: Tish James for Council in 2013!

On the other hand, we have Comptroller John Liu, whose options are miniscule and shrinking.  His campaign treasurer and top fundraiser have already been convicted of wire fraud, and his pot rattling about selective prosecution of Asian American elected officials isn’t drawing crowds.  He still shows up at the opening of every garbage can and bank statement with his 24-hour bulldog security detail, marching around like Engelbert Dollfuss, pretending that he is the next Mayor of New York, but the charade is growing thin.  Apparently Queens BP Helen Marshall, whose native district abuts Flushing, did not know until yesterday that John Liu was running!

Here is where I think John Liu is headed: an exit in June or early July, and a vigorous endorsement of Bill Thompson.  Why Thompson?  There is an odd rivalry between Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio and John Liu, but it isn’t the sort that would win the Civil War: more like start one.  Possibly the greatest moment of the John Liu Comptrollership was when he was asked to submit suggestions for changes to the City Charter, and his first idea was to change the order of Mayoral Succession, so that Comptroller would precede the Public Advocate and Council Speaker.

A Thompson endorsement would allow John Liu to save face, and he could try to bank support among minority voters for whenever he attempts his return to political life, assuming he doesn’t first join Larry Seabrook and Hiram Monserrate wherever they are.

You read it here first!