Over the past year, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has tried to squash speculation that he will "drop down" to run for comptroller rather than mayor in 2013. He hired several top consultants in January to give his campaign a mayoral sheen and has proposed a tax plan and other policies to burnish his citywide credentials.
Yet many insiders now believe the comptroller rumor persists because Stringer himself is stoking it.
One Democratic insider with direct knowledge of his thinking said Stringer is seriously considering the lesser race. Another source said Stringer is working to poach support from Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick, who has announced a bid for comptroller and landed several key endorsements.
"He hasn't quite definitely said it, but he's having conversations about doing it, which means he's doing it," the party insider said of Stringer. "Otherwise, talking about something like that is what your opponents would do, not what you would be doing yourself."
Stringer has struggled to build support in a mayoral race expected to include Council Speaker Chris Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu and 2009 runner-up Bill Thompson. Stringer's fundraising has been good, but his poll numbers have stayed stubbornly low. A Stringer spokeswoman declined to comment.
Stringer's dropping down to run for comptroller could help Quinn solidify the Manhattan vote and help de Blasio pick up outer-borough Jewish voters who might have migrated to Stringer's camp after the implosion of ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner. It could also result in Councilman Domenic Recchia running for Brooklyn borough president rather than comptroller, though State Sen. Eric Adams would represent a tough challenge in the borough president's race.
Still, recent events have made a run for comptroller a less attractive option for Stringer. Insiders say he angered northern Manhattan officials after challenging one of Manhattan Democratic Chairman Keith Wright's nominees for state Supreme Court.
"If Stringer can't get Garodnick to drop, and can't solidify northern Manhattan, dropping down will be his worst decision," said one Democratic source.