Christine Quinn’s devastating loss yesterday was a demonstration of the fatuousness of the Speakership as a source of political power.
My constant readers will recall one of the first columns I posted this election season, in early May, where I laid out the difficult electoral calculus of a Quinn mayoral win:
Are we at City Council Watch the only ones who have noticed that Ms. Quinn’s electoral experience is rather limited? Unlike any of her opponents, she has never been elected to anything beyond the confines of the 3rd Councilmanic District. Moreover, in 2009, when she ran for her third term, she scarcely won a majority in the Democratic primary, taking less than 7000 votes in total….
It is easy to make the mistake that Chris Quinn wants everyone to make, which is to see her standing next to Mayor Bloomberg at handshakes and press conferences for the last decade, and to see that physical proximity as a sign of her spiritual proximity to power. But in fact, becoming Speaker of the Council requires only 25 votes other than her own….
Chris Quinn’s main primary opponents have all won City-wide races. They have strong outer-borough support, which she lacks. Labor, which is vital to winning a Democratic primary, is not favorable to Quinn’s dithering on living wage and sick leave legislation….
So how does Chris Quinn win?
Well now we see the answer: she couldn’t. Leaving aside term limits and the slush fund, leaving aside her terrible personality and the bizarre quirks by which she made an enemy of New York’s frothing, barking animal lovers, being Speaker of the City Council is probably a net negative in the minds of the electorate. Heading up a legislative body in a republic means you are a pol’s pol, the one who can force his or her will eyeball-to-eyeball in the Member’s Lounge. Ask yourself, Who was the last Speaker of the House of Representatives to become President?
It is a little bit sad though. Bloomberg played Quinn on term limits through and through. He looked at her and probably thought, “I have screwed over three thousand people smarter than this woman.” I can imagine Bloomberg taking Chris, Kim and Chris’ old dad down to Bermuda for a weekend, and telling her lies about their joint legacy. "Kim you play golf, right?" Laughing at Mr. Quinn’s stories. Then when the plane is jetting them back to New York thinking to himself, “Well, that was easy.”
Quinn figured that term limits would be forgotten about by the time 2013 rolled around, even though she was warned that it would come back to bite her. Her hubris did her in, and the fact that voters, especially the kind who vote in Democratic primaries, have very long memories. Plus, a relentless ground strategy by Anybody But Quinn set the Speaker's campaign on its heels: in the last two days of the campaign, when Quinn should have been making incursions into Brooklyn and Queens, she had canvassers desperately trying to shore up votes in Chelsea, her home base. Even then she lost in some of her own ED's.
Up in CD 5 Micah Kellner was defeated handily by Ben Kallos. Council Watch is pleased that we were the first to break news of Assemblyman Kellner’s corruption, regarding Vehicle Production Group. We are interested to see how Kallos does in taking over the seat, and will keep an eye on his progress. It will also be fascinating to see what AM Kellner chooses to do in the coming year: will he run for re-election, and if so, will he be able to come back from his humiliating loss, and overcome the taint of financial and sexual scandal that now colors his political name?
Council Watch was wrong in a few similar cases: both Vito Lopez and Eliot Spitzer, whom we pegged as walk-ins, lost as a result of their sexual peccadillos. Kellner, Spitzer, Weiner, Lopez: it appears that the public has low tolerance now for scoundrels and harassers. Women vote.
The execrable Sara Gonzalez lost, the only incumbent to do so. Check out my piece on her in the current City & State to read why the voters made the right choice.
Mark Levine won handily in District 7…no surprise there. Inez Barron will continue the grand Barron tradition of shaking her fist in City Hall and sitting down through the Pledge of Allegiance. Charles Barron can rest for a few months before assuming her Assembly seat in the special election. Corey Johnson beat Yetta Kurland easily, having placed a pop-up GOTV ad on Grindr to remind his base to squeeze in polltime between hook-ups.
We are looking forward to the fallout of yesterday’s elections, and will continue to keep you posted on the latest scandals and eruptions, as or even before they occur!