Did Scott Stringer Drop Out Of Mayoral Race Because Of A Backroom Deal With Mike Bloomberg ?
After Scott Stringer had a private meeting with Mike Bloomberg, Mr. Stringer dropped out of the mayor's race, to clear the way for Christine Quinn's own mayoral race. Now, in an apparent reward, Mr. Stringer faces no opposition in his newly downsized campaign for comptroller.
Mayor Questions Hopefuls' Chances ; Tries To Discourage Stringer and Thompson
From The Wall Street Journal :
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently held private meetings with Democratic mayoral hopefuls Scott Stringer and Bill Thompson, raising questions with each of them about the viability of their candidacies, several people familiar with the conversations said.
The mayor didn't advise Mr. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, or Mr. Thompson, a former city comptroller who came close to beating Mr. Bloomberg in 2009, not to run, those people said. But he signaled he is leaning toward supporting City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a longtime ally who leads polls for the 2013 race and has raised the most money, the people said.
The meetings offer an unusual glimpse into the mayor's thinking on the upcoming contest and what role he might play in shaping the battle for City Hall. Mr. Bloomberg is slated to end a 12-year run in office at the end of next year.
Although he won on the Republican line, the mayor doesn't belong to a political party and hasn't decided whether to publicly endorse a successor. His support in the general election would likely be an asset, but it is unclear whether his backing in the Democratic primary, where the party's most left-leaning members tend to vote, would be an advantage. Republicans have yet to mount a strong candidate.
Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, confirmed the meetings took place but declined to reveal what was discussed.
Three people familiar with the conversations said that during a wide-ranging discussion, the mayor told Mr. Stringer that a mayoral race would be an uphill battle. Mr. Bloomberg said he hoped Mr. Stringer would continue to hold an elected position, these people said.
Mr. Stringer recently has told supporters that he is considering dropping out of the mayor's race and running for city comptroller instead. He is also eligible to run for another term as borough president. Unlike Mr. Thompson, Mr. Stringer hasn't declared an intention to run for mayor, although his interest in the job is well-known.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Stringer said the borough president continues to explore a mayoral bid. But several people familiar with his thinking said he is privately discussing the possibility of running for comptroller instead.
"He has to make that choice of whether he wants to run for mayor or whether he wants to run for comptroller," one supporter said. "I know he's very passionate about wanting to remain in the mayor's race. And clearly by the end of the year, he'll make a decision, either way, which one he'll do."
It isn't unusual for the mayor to hold private meetings with elected officials, including Mr. Stringer, or to muse privately about the race for his replacement. But the coffee he shared with Mr. Thompson, who was the comptroller from 2002 through 2009, was more unusual because Mr. Thompson is no longer in public office.
Mr. LaVorgna said Mr. Thompson requested the meeting with the mayor; a spokesman for Mr. Thompson said Mr. Thompson called the mayor's office to set up the meeting at Mr. Bloomberg's insistence.
As he did in the meeting with Mr. Stringer, the mayor told Mr. Thompson that he is inclined to support Ms. Quinn, who has developed a tight professional alliance with Mr. Bloomberg since she became the City Council leader in 2006. Ms. Quinn presided over the body's decision to overturn term limits in 2008, paving the way for the mayor to run for a third term.
"The mayor stated he is leaning toward Chris, and then after a bit of conversation about support and the voter base, the mayor himself was unsure and having doubts" about Ms. Quinn's chances, one person said.
An adviser to Ms. Quinn said the campaign was unaware of the conversations and declined to comment.
Mr. Thompson is widely viewed as Ms. Quinn's fiercest competition for the Democratic nomination because he is the only African-American in the race, runs second to Ms. Quinn in polls and was the party's choice in 2009. To become the nominee, a candidate must win 40% of the vote, or a runoff is held between the two top vote-getters.
A spokesman for Mr. Thompson described the former comptroller as a "highly viable candidate," pointing out that Mr. Bloomberg outspent him roughly 11 to 1 in 2009, but Mr. Thompson came within five percentage points of winning the election.
The other candidates eyeing the Democratic nomination for 2013 are Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu and media executive Tom Allon. Adolfo Carrion, a former Bronx borough president, is talking to advisers and supporters about possibly entering the race, as well.
Mr. Liu's chances of winning have been severely damaged by a federal investigation into his campaign fundraising activities, but he has told supporters he is committed to running for mayor.
Mr. Bloomberg reached out to Mr. Stringer, in part, because there has been a thawing in their once-icy relationship. Mr. Stringer recently supported the mayor's proposal to ban the sale of large sugary drinks, as did Mr. de Blasio. Mr. Stringer also sided with the mayor, in opposition to Mr. de Blasio, on a proposal to increase taxi service in the five boroughs.
Messrs. de Blasio and Liu have been highly critical of many of the mayor's policies. Mr. de Blasio has described the mayor as imperious and criticized his third term.
"I don't think the notion of Billy [Thompson] or Scott [Stringer] being mayor keeps the mayor up at night in the same way that the notion of John Liu or Bill de Blasio does," one person familiar with the mayor's thinking said.