Christine Quinn’s famously press-shy wife, Kim Catullo, dipped her toes into the media spotlight for the first time this weekend, sitting for a series of interviews with local outlets after months of watching from the sidelines.
Politicker met Ms. Catullo at the campaign’s lower Manhattan headquarters, where we asked about the prospect of being married to the city’s first female and openly gay mayor, Ms. Quinn’s most annoying habits, as well as the best Bruce Springsteen album of all time.
“As a private gal, this has been interesting,” said Ms. Catullo, a corporate lawyer who married the Democratic City Council speaker last spring at a star-studded wedding attended by a huge swath of the city’s leading officials.
Ms. Catullo, who never wanted to be involved in any form of public life, has until now been reluctant to take a prominent role in the campaign, despite spending time volunteering at the office, marching in parades and attending smaller events. But with three weeks left until primary day, as the other candidates’ spouses take growing roles in their partners’ campaigns, she has agreed to step out from the sidelines. “You realize that I love my spouse, I want to be there for her,” she said.
And while Ms. Catullo had first tried to talk her wife out of running for mayor, she said that she’s actually been enjoying some aspects of the campaign trail. (She’s also 100 percent on board, even painting her toenails blue to match the campaign’s signs, just like Ms. Quinn.)
“I’m having fun watching Chris do it,” said Ms. Catullo, who–despite her private persona–seemed excited to get the chance to talk about her wife. “You know my favorite thing is always seeing when either a mother or a father brings over a young girl to meet her and wants them to get a picture with her. You kind of see from their eyes and what they say to their daughters that it’s a meaningful moment.”
Still, she said there are difficult parts of the campaign as well, including seeing Ms. Quinn attacked.
“Listen, if you’re a spouse and you love your spouse, which I do, it’s hard,” Ms. Catullo explained, adding that she gave up reading newspapers a few months ago to avoid the worst. “It’s natural. You’re watching somebody you really care about and love go through a process where, you know, they’re being personally attacked … I think unfortunately it comes with the territory, so you sort of have to have a thick skin in this business.”
Ms. Catullo further declared the idea of being the city’s next first lady to be “overwhelming.” “I don’t think I could even fathom what it will look like. I think it will be a first on so many levels,” she said, noting that it’s been many years since the city had a traditional “First Family.” “I know we’re not going to look like any prior couple,” she said.
As for her role? “I certainly am not going to be a full-time first lady. That’s just not going to happen,” she said with a laugh, pointing to homeless and literacy issues as possible areas for her to focus on. “I would expect that I’m going to do what Chris needs me to and what the city needs me to do … I’m certainly not giving up my career, but I think it’s going to be such a unique situation that I just don’t know what to expect, to be honest.”
Still, she said that she was deeply moved by the significance of her wife potentially becoming the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor.
“Let me say this, I believe number one is: Are you the most qualified person? And I believe she is, I really do,” she said. “But put that aside, I think the historical significance of that can’t be understated. As a woman and as a lesbian–forget that she’s my wife–I think it’s really exiting! And I think–I think it’s time.”
She remembered how the first time she voted, Geraldine Ferraro was on the vice presidential ballot. “I remember being so proud of that … so the thought that we’re this close to that happening is really pretty incredible.”
On a personal level, Ms. Catullo said she thought that Ms. Quinn’s campaign was doing a good job showcasing their funny, caring and “scary smart” candidate.
“She’s funny. Really funny. She makes me laugh. And I also really love … how smart she is. It’s really fun to have conversations with her about interesting topics,” she said.
Ms. Quinn’s most annoying habits, on the other hand? “Her choice in TV and her BlackBerry use,” said Ms. Catullo. “It’s bad TV … But I get it. She has to deal with really big issues all day and talk all day, so watching mind-numbing TV, … I can get the outlet.”
While it’s been increasingly tough with her campaign schedule, she said the two like to spend their free time taking walks together in Hudson River Park and going on movie dates. Ms. Catullo said the last film they’d caught together–at home, unfortunately–was Ted, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
“Oh my God, we laughed so hard,” she said. “That was one she wanted to see in the theater, and I said, ‘I am not going to see a talking teddy bear movie!’ And so we watched on a whim one night late … and it was … Oh my gosh, you don’t want to admit you laughed ’cause it was so filthy, but we laughed like crazy.”
The married duo also share a love for Bruce Springsteen, whom Ms. Quinn has said she’d use as a model for her governing style.
Ms. Catullo, who is known among Ms. Quinn’s staffers for putting together event playlists, said her own favorite Springsteen track of all-time is “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” A few years ago, she said, she watched him play an entire show dedicated to the album. “It was phenomenal.”