by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
A Lesbian City Council member is emerging as the frontrunner to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor of New York in 2013.
Once considered a slam-dunk for former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the run to succeed Bloomberg became a wide-open race when Weiner got caught - quite literally - with his pants down.
In what the New York Times has called 'the worst-kept secret in City Hall,' Bloomberg has been saying privately that he wants City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn to succeed him when he leaves office.
Quinn has served on the City Council since 2000, and has been speaker since 2006. She lives with her partner, Kim Catullo, in Chelsea, lower Manhattan.
She supported the controversial 2008 bill that overturned term limits for New York mayors, and allowed Bloomberg to run for an unprecedented third term.
So far, both Bloomberg and Quinn have tried to keep the mayor's endorsement out of the headlines.
Jamie McShane, a spokesman for Quinn, told NYT, 'She has never asked for, nor has he offered his support.'
A spokesman for Bloomberg said the same.
Nevertheless, Bloomberg has reportedly 'made it plain in private conversations with other politicians and civic leaders that he prefers the City Council speaker.'
'There's no question in my mind that of all the candidates, he sees Chris Quinn as far better for the city of New York,' said former Mayor Edward I. Koch, who said he had spoken to Bloomberg about the race to succeed him.
Koch made headlines himself recently when he endorsed anti-Gay Republican Bob Turner for Weiner's Congressional seat.
The election is more than two years away, and New York's mayors have typically not had enough political clout to name their successors. Nevertheless, Bloomberg will have opportunities to spotlight Quinn in the coming years, insiders say.
'You cannot anoint; you can influence, you can impact,' Mr. Koch said. 'It is not an overriding endorsement that assures you of success.'
'He can arrange events, he can promote her for the next two and a half years, he can make her the 'vice mayor' so people will think she's the No. 2 person in city government, which, to some extent, she is,' Koch protégé Henry J. Stern said.
On August 27, for example, Bloomberg had Quinn at his side as he updated reporters on preparations for Hurricane Irene.
This was considered a covert political endorsement, because Quinn has no operational responsibilities, unlike the city's commissioners who were pushed into the background at the briefing.
Some observers believe Bloomberg's support might prove to be a double-edged sword.
It might help, they say, with business leaders, white voters outside Manhattan, Independents, and Republicans, but it could hurt Quinn among liberals who opposed some of Bloomberg's budget cuts.
It also remains unclear how much Bloomberg's support will help Quinn with fundraising.
Running for mayor of New York is expensive. Bloomberg spent some $250 million of his own money in three elections.
But even a candidate who self-finances his campaign can give no more than $4,950 to someone else for the 2013 campaign.
Bloomberg's approval ratings are highest among New Yorkers who make more than $100,000, so he could help as a high-end fundraiser, although Quinn has already raised close to the public financing system's spending limit for the Democratic primary.
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