Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stringer's Out

Its not quite official, but he sees the writing on the wall.
Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, is expected to announce soon that he will not run for mayor next year, but instead vie for city comptroller, according to half a dozen people who have talked to him in recent days.
I'm both pleased and disappointed that Stringer is dropping down to the comptroller's race. I'm pleased because it improves the probability that we'll have a comptroller that actually cares about his job instead of taking cheep potshots at the mayor and the MTA wherever he can find them. I'm disappointed because the mayor's race, the only one that will have any serious profile in the media, has lost the candidate who was far and away the best one on transit issues overall. Stringer uniquely understood the critical need for a fully funded MTA, the importance of complete streets with bike lanes, and was willing to take on the worst rent seekers in the city, the medallion owners.

No other candidate was as complete in their advocacy for progressive transit. DeBlasio has shown himself to be in the pocket of the medallion owners, and has morphed from bike lane supporter to bike lane agnostic at best. Liu has shown himself to be a complete hack who will do nothing more then wait for the federal government to make it rain. Quinn says some the right things when talking to a transit audience, but when talking to a general audience she tailors her message almost exclusively around the needs of car owners instead of the vast majority of New Yorkers who use alternative methods to get around.

So who benefits from Stringer dropping out? Conventional analysis says Quinn since Stringer's Upper West Side and liberal Jew coalition overlaps most strongly with Quinn's Manhattan/LGBT/Democrats for Bloomberg coalition. However I think there is a good possibility that DeBlasio comes out ahead. My view of the race is that its going to come down to a two person race between Quinn and a Not-Quinn. People who supported Stringer were probably supporting him as the best Not-Quinn candidate. With Stringer gone, I imagine his supporters will look for another Not-Quinn to back, and only if they conclude Stringer was the only acceptable Not-Quinn will they reluctantly fall into the Quinn camp. The scandal tarred Liu isn't gonna get any support from Stringer's reform minded backers, while Billy Thompson is a complete non-factor. That leaves DeBlasio as the best positioned to pick up Stringer's supporters. While there might be a Park Slope/UWS rivalry in the city, the issues and demographics of the two neighborhoods are similar. DeBlasio clearly understands the issues facing Park Slope, so it isn't a stretch to see him creating a stroller coalition between the two neighborhoods. Quinn might win more of Stringer's support in the end, but I don't think its as automatic as I've seen other publications portraying it.

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