Bill de Blasio’s turn at bat as front-runner in NY race

The New York TimesAugust 23, 2013 

So it turns out that Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, who’s campaigning for mayor on a promise to de-Bloomberg Gotham, do have something in common.

Both men, who grew up in the Boston area, threw caution to the wind and admitted while running for mayor of New York that they were Red Sox fans.

Once elected, Bloomberg quickly switched his allegiance, buying eight season tickets to the Yankees and four to the Mets, but de Blasio is a Fenway Park acolyte — something his rivals are mocking him for.

Any little thing will help now because, in the wildest and most whiplash-prone Democratic mayoral primary ever, the spotlight has finally swung to de Blasio, who has knocked off Christine Quinn as the clear front-runner, a perch she briefly scrambled back onto after Anthony Weiner had knocked her off.

The 52-year-old public advocate has spent the last few days surrounded by the liberal glitterati of New York: Cynthia Nixon and her wife; “Boardwalk Empire” king Steve Buscemi; and pingpong queen Susan Sarandon, who said she decided not to support Quinn because “you can’t just vote your vagina.”

At the Good Times coffee shop in Greenwich Village on Monday, de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, sat down to talk. Asked why Quinn was not rallying women, McCray, a mother of two, replied. “She’s not accessible. She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.”

Last spring, McCray did an interview with Essence magazine about her feelings about being a black lesbian who fell in love with a white heterosexual, back in 1991, when she worked for the New York Commission on Human Rights and wore African clothing and a nose ring and he was an aide to then-Mayor David Dinkins. She was also interviewed by the press in December and was asked if she was no longer a lesbian, and she answered ambiguously: “I am married. I have two children. Sexuality is a fluid thing, and it’s personal. I don’t even understand the question, quite frankly.”

But a lot has happened since then in this campaign season of interesting sexual proclivities and possible firsts. Besides the woman who wants to be the first first lady who used to be a lesbian, there is also Kim Catullo, the wife of Quinn, who would be the first first lady who is a married lesbian.

The summer has been so drenched with the unthinkable and the unorthodox that the de Blasios, married for 19 years, seem quite conventional by comparison.

Quinn is unable to get traction, even with women, despite talking more freely about the historical nature of her bid to become the first woman and lesbian to be mayor, and the showcasing of her shy wife, a corporate lawyer who would prefer to live on a Vermont farm.

Quinn’s message has been anodyne and poll-tested; the speaker of the City Council has somehow managed to reap the downside of her partnership with Bloomberg but not capitalize on the upside; she has left many people confused about where she stands and irritated with her role as lackey to Bloomberg’s nanny.

It doesn’t help that Bloomberg himself yearns for stronger candidates.

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

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