In signing up with Eric Gioia’s campaign, Bill Lynch said the choice was obvious.
“I cannot think of a major issue in the City in the last decade that Eric hasn’t been deeply involved in,” Lynch said in a public statement released by the campaign. “And he has spent more time in more different communities getting to know the diverse people of our town than anyone.”
Certainly, there's something of a convergence of interests here on the merits. Gioia is planning to court the black vote aggressively, and he often mentions the challenges faced by residents in Harlem–where Lynch’s office is based, and where his influence is the strongest.
On Election Night last year, when thousands of people gathered outside the federal office building to see Barack Obama win the presidency, Gioia was the only candidate now running for public advocate who went there to speak to the crowd.
As Liz pointed out, the hire is a bit of a slight to Bill de Blasio, who worked under Lynch in the Dinkins administration.
But it also creates an intriguing dynamic involving the best-known candidate in the race, former public advocate Mark Green. Green’s last citywide race was in 2001. That campaign ended very badly: Green lost to Bloomberg in the general after a primary against Freddy Ferrer that was so racially divisive that a number of the Democratic Party's most influential leaders effectively shut down their turnout operations on Election Day. Throughout, Lynch, who was an adviser to Ferrer, was one of the most assertive critics of the Green campaign's tactics.
So far, Gioia has deliberately set out to contrast himself with Green by suggesting that he's looking to move past old political battles, and to be something other than a reflexive critic of the mayor. He's presenting himself, in other words, as the anti-Green.
The Lynch hire hardly represents a break with the past. But maybe, in this case, that's the whole point.