Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral campaign shifted gears last month as she tore into her various opponents for their allegedly lackluster records, but she didn’t go after them by name. That changed tonight.
The fireworks began when, during an interview on NY1′s Road to City Hall, Ms. Quinn was presented with rival Bill de Blasio’s argument today that the City Council “has been manipulated by the mayor, especially via Speaker Quinn,” and thus can’t be tasked with reforming the city’s embattled 911 system.
“Bill de Blasio is desperate,” Ms. Quinn shot back. “He is stuck in the bottom of the polls and he’s desperately, and quite frankly, sadly attacking an institution I’m incredibly proud of–an institution he was a member of and in the leadership of for eight years.”
And, when given the opportunity to attack former Comptroller Bill Thompson over his handling of the infamous CityTime project–a city contract aiming at modernizing payroll systems that went vastly over budget–Ms. Quinn didn’t hesitate.
“The comptroller, one of his most basic responsibilities … is to audit. He didn’t do that. He was asleep at the switch and first started taking responsibility and now is blaming other people when he let $700 million basically go right under his nose. That’s a record he has to defend and stop blaming other people,” Ms. Quinn said.
But, in a sign of a new fiery pace of the mayoral campaign, Mr. Thompson and Mr. de Blasio had statements out blasting Ms. Quinn right back before her full interview had even aired this evening.
“How dare Chris Quinn even utter the words oversight and responsibility?” Thompson strategist Jonathon Prince fumed, pivoting to a City Council scandal under Ms. Quinn’s watch. “She presided over a slush fund that abused taxpayer dollars to buy political favors, she ran a member item system that doled out favors to friends and punished opponents, and she sold out any pretense to oversight when she handed the Mayor, and herself, a third term in clear defiance of the voters.”
(The Thompson campaign shot off an email to supporters with “the politics of panic” in the subject line.)
“Speaker Quinn’s poll numbers are dropping like a rock as voters learn more about her so-called accomplishments: handing Mayor Bloomberg a third term, watering down and blocking progressive legislation, and proposing a billion-dollar giveaway to developers dressed up as a housing plan,” de Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan piled on, tossing out as many attacks on her record as he could.
“This election will come down to who you are fighting for,” Mr. Levitan added, “and while Speaker Quinn has caved again and again to special interests, Bill de Blasio is fighting to lift more New Yorkers out of poverty and into the middle class.”
The September 10 Democratic primary looms large, and it seems likely that the campaigns will get even more aggressive as that date approaches.