Some Democrats Reluctant to Follow Queens County in Mayor’s Race

Christine Quinn (Photo: YouTube)

Christine Quinn (Photo: YouTube)

When arguably the most powerful county organization in New York City, the Queens Democratic Party, endorsed Christine Quinn for mayor, political observers believed it was a coup for Ms. Quinn because Queens’s famously loyal elected officials would quickly back the Council speaker. But since party chairman Joe Crowley announced he was supporting Ms. Quinn on May 20, few Queens elected officials have followed suit.

“They’ve been surprised by the lukewarm reception for Quinn,” said one Queens Democratic operative, unaligned with any candidate. “Especially considering only three district leaders dissented at her endorsement.”

The black political leadership in southeastern Queens was irked on May 20 when Ms. Quinn was chosen over the race’s one African-American candidate, Bill Thompson, but the dissent was still relatively limited to a few older power brokers like former Councilman Archie Spigner. Ms. Quinn has secured the backing of some Queens elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, but thus far most have remained neutral.

Congresswoman Grace Meng, for example, has not endorsed Ms. Quinn, despite her close ties to the county organization. The same is true for elected officials like State Senator Toby Stavisky, State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz. There is still time for elected officials to endorse Ms. Quinn and political insiders believe more, like Councilman James Gennaro, will back her. But she may also have an uphill battle in pressing her case to representatives of certain ethnic enclaves that have their own chosen candidates.

“Quinn is a tough sell in a few different communities: she’s a tough sell in the black community because of Thomspon, a tough sell with the Asian community because of John Liu and a tough sell in Jewish communities because of her natural base issues there and with Anthony Weiner in the race,” said another Queens Democrat familiar with the endorsement process.

Indeed, the presence of Comptroller John Liu, a former Flushing councilman and icon in the Asian community, could be keeping Ms. Meng, the first Asian-American elected to Congress in New York State, and Ms. Stavisky, a white elected official representing a majority-Asian district, from immediately backing Ms. Quinn. Councilman Peter Koo, who replaced Mr. Liu in the City Council, has already endorsed Mr. Liu’s candidacy.

In the southern, whiter and more moderate portions of the borough, natural support for Ms. Quinn also bumps up against the types of socially conservative districts that Mr. Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, an active Rockaway Democrat and party loyalist, represent. Both Mr. Addabbo and Mr. Goldfeder have significant Orthodox Jewish populations who may not be warm to Ms. Quinn because she is openly gay. Mr. Simanowitz, also very close with the party, represents a large Orthodox population, too.

Despite this, more Queens elected officials are expected to endorse Ms. Quinn and it is possible the campaign simply does not want to unveil all of their endorsements at one time. Indeed, Ms. Quinn has plotted a strategy of slowly rolling out one or two endorsements in a given day, keeping the steady drumbeat of positive developments flowing into the news cycle.

For their part, Mr. Addabbo and Mr. Goldfeder’s offices said they simply had yet to make endorsements and Mr. Simanowitz’s office did not immediately say whether or not he was backing Ms. Quinn, though he is not listed as one of her endorsers by the Quinn campaign. Ms. Meng’s office didn’t elaborate on why she had not endorsed yet. Ms. Stavisky declined to comment.