Frontrunner Status Evaporated, Quinn Runs Well Behind de Blasio, Thompson

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Christine Quinn waves to supporters as she concedes defeat in her run for mayor. | DONNA ACETO
Christine Quinn waves to supporters as she concedes defeat in her run for mayor. | DONNA ACETO

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | In a sharp rebuke to her eight years as City Council speaker, Christine Quinn finished a distant third in the September 10 Democratic mayoral primary. Fueled by anger over her close ties to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, her role in giving him the chance to run for a third term, and –– in the Council district she has served since 1999 –– controversial land use development decisions many blamed her for, she garnered just 15 percent of the vote.

Perhaps most stunningly, as the city first viable out LGBT mayoral candidate, Quinn earned just 34 percent of the queer vote, according to Edison Research exit polls. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, whose unofficial vote tally at 40 percent could free him from facing second-place finisher Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, in a runoff, earned 47 percent of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual vote.

In her own geographic base, de Blasio bested the speaker by a 42-39 percent margin in Chelsea and a 50-34 margin in the West Village. In Brooklyn’s Park Slope, where de Blasio lives and the gay community has long been a visible presence, the public advocate romped over Quinn by a nearly three to one margin.

Appearing before supporters at the Dream Hotel in Chelsea after the September 10 results were in, Quinn, who for much of the campaign was viewed as the clear frontrunner, sounded an upbeat tone even as her eyes were moist with tears.

“We all care deeply about this city,” the speaker said of the Democratic primary field. “We share the goal of greater opportunity for every New Yorker in every neighborho­od.”

Surrounded on stage by her large extended family, including her wife Kim Catullo, her father Lawrence, her sister Ellen, and her father-in-law Anthony, Quinn said, “I’m more grateful than I can say to my wife Kim. She is by far –– every day and twice on Sunday –– the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Noting the historic significance that a victory would have had, the speaker talked about "a young girl out there” who could say, “I can do that,” and the lifeline it would have sent to “a young LGBT teen out there who’s doubting themself for who they are.”

At the conclusion of her remarks, Quinn wipes away a tear. | DONNA ACETO
At the conclusion of her remarks, Quinn wipes away a tear. | DONNA ACETO

Vowing to stay engaged in public life after she leaves the City Council on January 1, Quinn closed by saying, “I believe that the best days of this city are ahead of us.”

The crowd gathered at the Dream Hotel offered a variety of reactions ranging from anger to shock to pride.

“She is about the classiest public servant I’ve ever worked with,” said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Victory Fund, which works to elect out LGBT public officials. “Like she said, she’ll keep working. For her, you can see that public service is a calling. We will never waver in our support of her.”

Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s LGBT lobby, said, “ We stood with Speaker Quinn as she rose from advocacy leader to elected official and through a highly competitive primary election season this year. Our early endorsement back in January shows our commitment to her strong record of delivering on issues near and dear to LGBT New Yorkers.”

He added that the group will “see what next steps she pursues, which we're certain will be of significance and with the best interests of our community and of all New Yorkers top of mind.”

The comments from others were considerably more raw.

Robert Pinter, whose 2008 false arrest on prostitution charges thrust him into activism over police treatment of the LGBT community, said he was “overwhelmed, shocked… and sort of speechless.”

“Even as far back as my arrest in 2008, there was organized opposition to her,” he said of Quinn critics who eventually came together under the slogan Anybody But Quinn and spent more than a million dollars in independent expenditure advertising against her. “I haven’t seen anything like it –– a campaign just to bring someone down. It did nothing to add to our political discourse.”

That effort highlighted a broad range of issues, from the speaker’s positive relationship with the mayor and her actions on the third term question to a scandal during her first term as speaker over a slush fund controlled out of her office, development controversies, such as the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital and the site’s conversion into luxury condominiums, and even her support for the horse-drawn carriage industry.

“There were people who really, really, despised Chris,” Pinter said, “and what they said reached a lot of people.”

Quinn and her wife, Kim Catullo, arrive to meet her supporters. | DONNA ACETO
Quinn and her wife, Kim Catullo, arrive to meet her supporters. | DONNA ACETO

West Village Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, first elected in 1990, was more scathing in her assessment of the opposition Quinn faced.

“There was a lot of misogyny coming out of the Anybody But Quinn movement,” she argued, adding that comments made by de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd –– which were originally misquoted and published without their full context –– were “definitely code language… saying that a tough woman can’t be sensitive to the needs of other women.”

Glick added, “I don’t know if it was crafted by the campaign or if it was [McCray]. I don’t know the woman.”

Women and the LGBT community voted against their interests, Glick argued.

“Women don’t support women to the extent they should,” she said. “And I don’t know that the LGBT community is always strategic in their thinking.”

Rachel Lavine, a longtime activist in the LGBT community and the Democratic Party, echoed Glick’s assessment, terming Quinn’s loss “heartbreak­ing.” She described the independent expenditure committee that funded attacks on the speaker as “mysterious” and noted that none of the men in the race faced such opposition spending.

Lavine also faulted women and LGBT New Yorkers –– including actresses Cynthia Nixon and Susan Sarandon as well as McCray herself, who as a young woman identified as lesbian –– who allowed themselves to be used by the de Blasio campaign to make the argument “that her being gay isn’t enough, is it?”

“The fact that gay people did it does not make it any less homophobic,” Lavine said.

Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union who was Quinn’s most prominent LGBT labor supporter, said, “I obviously would have liked to have seen a different result,” but was already looking forward to the general election in November.

“Any of the Democratic candidates would be better than the incumbent because we need to focus on the people who have been excluded from his priorities,” he said.

Quinn’s loss to de Blasio among LGBT voters, he said, “was a move beyond identity politics” that “shows how far we’ve come.”

Still, imagining the impact a Quinn victory would have had on young gay New Yorkers, Appelbaum said, “I do think it’s a lost opportunity.”

Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Reader feedback

Hannah Aron says:
I'm a feminist and did not vote for Quinn because she SCREWED Greenwich Village by selling out ST. Vincent's Hospital to developers. When a family member needed to go to the emergency room at 3 a.m., he had to be hauled way across town to Beth Israel. All of downtown Manhattan is without emergency help. That's a life and death matter that trumps queer and gender politics. I voted on Quinn's record and actions, not her identity. Period.
Sept. 11, 2013, 2:54 pm
Julie Van Ness says:
"......and even her support for the carriage horse industry" That phrase in your article tells me exactly why you could support Christine Quinn. For decades the carriage horses have been suffering on the streets of Manhattan every day, all year, in all weather, hot or cold, rain, snow or shine, and then driven back to fire traps with stalls so small they could hardly lie down at night or even turn around, only to start again the next day for 10 more hours on hard payment unnatural for their hooves and making their legs ache. Never could they spread out and stretch their muscles or run freely which is natural for a horse. Christine Quinn did not care ever about them, no matter what she said...and over the years she had plenty of chances. She also was unconcerned about living animals, locked in cages, in pet stores without sprinkler systems in case of fire when she had a chance to do something about it. And, in deed, many were burned to death in pet store fires after she refused to pass legislation to require sprinkler systems. She sold out a hospital in her OWN district to an apartment house developer leaving her OWN district without emergency medical help. None of this had anything to do with being gay or not being gay. If she had cared about the people and the animals of this city, even a modicum, after the New York real estate industry and Michael Bloomberg got a hold of her, she would be our next mayor, because in the beginning everybody was routing for her! She has only herself to blame now and I hope she never is elected to any public office again because she cannot be trusted not to sell her good character to the highest bidder.
Sept. 11, 2013, 3:49 pm
paulscoles says:
Shocking that Quinn didn't get the gay vote? Not at all. Predictable in fact. When she was the gay candidate, organizational gaydom flocked to her. When she campaigned as the candidate who happened to be a gay woman, we looked at her record, and found it wanting. We saw her coziness with developers, her shady deals on term limits, and most of all, her willingness to sacrifice her community's hospital to the Bloomberg- ing of New York , and found not a lesbian heroine, but another smarmy politician. Apparently the gay gene doesn't protect against that. She asked us to vote not on her orientation, but on her record. We took her at her word. And tossed her out. But don't feel too bad for her. She'll get a job as a high priced consultant, and probably wind up in a condo over the ashes of St. Vincent's. I hope the ghosts don't keep her awake.
Sept. 11, 2013, 5 pm
Bill Henning says:
Apparently a lot of Quinn supporters don't realize that the Anybody But Quinn campaign was organized by the same PAC (NYC Is Not for Sale) that targeted Bloomberg 4 years ago in response to his override of term limits. Was the campaign also misogynist and homophobic when it targeted our straight male mayor? People need to recognize that, as speaker, Quinn took a number of actions that were strongly opposed by the people of this city. That is why she fared so poorly in yesterday's primary.
Sept. 11, 2013, 5:08 pm
William Stribling says:
Sore loosers, Gay City News. Still shilling for Quinn? You folks have little or nothing to do with the rainbow, rather you front for a self centered economically privileged racially exclusive bourgeois cabal that has no spiritual connection to homosexuality or the flavor of its heart. I am an 81 year old homosexual man who has lived in this city since February l957, aware and associated with so many of our struggles all these years. Christine had no relevance to that - her managers assigned her to represent real estate interests and development projects. There was nothing in her campaign about GLTB rights across the economic spectrum or support for the genuine freedom we all seek. Yea, and I am still incensed each and every time a recounting of all her successes at spiking animal care, minimum wage, and sick time legislation. What kind of drugs do you all use that you are unable to see in her face what kind of person she is? Hail to New Yorkers for their good judgement, and congratulations to my fellow gay men and lesbian women, and transgenders for giving Bill deBlasio such major support. What next for Gay City News, push for the Thompson campaign on us to unelect a Democrat? Thompson didn't make it to the 10 percent with the GLTB support, but that won't enter into your efforts to derail deBlasio now will it?
Sept. 11, 2013, 5:30 pm
Carl Rosenstein says:
She loses the gay vote in her own district and she's a victim of " homophobia"-B.S. Besides St Vincents what about the nine forty story buildings that NYU will build in the Village with her blessing, and the 50 story Trump dump on Varick St that is in complete violation of zoning-she refused to hold hearings on that one. She was Bloomberg's boot licker for 8 years.Everything she did or didn't do was calculated for her own ambition. Suddenly this year she was against Stop and Frisk but for a half a dozen years she refused to allow hearings in the Council. The damage she's done in the Village is forever. Good riddance
Sept. 11, 2013, 6:34 pm
Scootie says:
Deborah Glick is delusional and nothing more than a sore loser--it's time for her to move on out as well.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:01 pm
Bob says:
"Women and the LGBT community voted against their interests, Glick argued." No. We're not dumb. We can't vote for someone simply because she has a vagina or is a lesbian. We voted for our interests. Voting for Quinn would have been voting against our interests. Her record stands for itself.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:07 pm
@MilburnCreek says:
Here's the real message: Dear Victory Fund, Empire State Pride, and all those who claim to speak for the LGBT community: We ARE NOT YOUR SHEEP. We will no longersupport someone just because *YOU* do, or because they happen to be gay. If what Christine Quinn as Council President had been done by a Republican, you;d be SCREAMING for her head on a platter...but instead, you played high-brow politics. Well, my friends, you have lost the rank and file. She lost because she was bad for NYC, and no amount of gay-washing will change that.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:10 pm
LittleBearNYC says:
So now I am a self-hating homosexual because I did not support their Corporate toady, Quinnberg? Apparently Ms. Glick and Ms. Lavine are still knee deep in their adolescent identity politics support of anyone LGBT. Am I next supposed to vote for any gay neocon who runs for office due to his gayness? Or since I am Jewish do I have to vote for right wing Orthodox candidates so that no one calls me a "self-hating Jew?" I'd say that most of our LGBT voters showed extreme maturity by not falling for simple identity politics and voting for the best candidate to change the tenor of our city. And NYC's voters showed that karma can be a potent force- self-serving and bad behavior was not rewarded and Quinn, Weiner and Spitzer were rejected for the 'bad faith' candidates they were. And, considering Quinn lost both her key constituent groups the only thing Lavine and Glick can come up with is a bankrupt "self-hating homos" argument. Pathetic.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:45 pm
Marc says:
I agree with much of what has been said. Quinn had a terrible record on issues of concern to me and many other progressive Democrats: the term limit extension; supporting the St. Vincent, NYU, Columbia, Trump SOHO, Atlantic Yards development, and displacement through rezoning; a mediocre record on tenant issuers and affordable housing; being late to the game on and watering down sick leave and police oversight bills; lukewarm transparency on member items along with rewarding her friends and punishing her enemies rather having equal discretionary funds with mandated community budgeting; protecting the carriage horse industry. Sure, you need a strong Council to balance the strong mayoralty, and I have no illusions that de Blasio would have been that much better had he been speaker. Sure, she's not as bad as Peter Vallone was. But, she was no progressive. When you run on your record as Quinn did, you have to expect and respond to criticism of that record, particularly from the left, rather than crying homophobia and sexism. I'd love to see a woman and member of the LBGT community as mayor. But, I am not willing to hypocritically toss aside my progressive values and beliefs.
Sept. 11, 2013, 7:48 pm
jmagi says:
I have known Assemblywoman Glick, Rachel Lavine, Tom Duane and other progressive politicians and activists since the mid-eighties. I have tremendous respect for each of them and even consider them friends. I am sorry that they are hurt by Quinn's loss, but they are wrong about its causes. It was not sexism or homophobia that defeated Quinn, but her betrayal of the voters will by helping the Mayor get a third term, doing her best to defeat progressive issues like paid sick leave and living wage. These are not the actions of a progressive, but of a power monger. These accusations of bigotry on the part of the voters are just cheap shots. The LGBT community is much smarter than they think. Any gay will NOT do anymore.
Sept. 11, 2013, 8:10 pm
Josh says:
Again, I want to reiterate, just because I am gay doesn't mean that I have to vote for the gay candidate. Along with everything else that has been sent about Ms. Quinn. As a gay man who lives in Queens, I have long known that Ms. Quinn has no interest in either the middle class or the citizens of NYC who live in the outer boroughs.
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:34 pm
Jay says:
I agree with the comments that follow this article. From my observations the ABQ movement was a principled and honorable opposition to the candidacy of Chris Quinn. I feel the commenters make abundantly clear that this was political disagreement with Chris' policies, tactics, and record of service to her constituents, who organized themselves and voted against her. The issues were clear and represent exactly the kind of civic engagement I wish we saw more of in electoral politics. Accusing them of sexism and being "self hating gays" is baseless. As someone who was relatively neutral in the Mayoral candidate race, who would have seen benefit to any of the leading 4 candidates receiving the nomination, (although I felt inspired by the candidacy and progressive positions of Bill deBlasio and support him) I believe the accusations against the ABQ groups are unfair, unwarranted, and below the belt. I am certain there have been some extreme and unfair accusations made by both sides against each other, which is probably inevitable in the heat of any political battle, but outliers do not indict entire groups of supporters. I saw no misogyny or homophobia in the ABQ group whatsoever. Not once. All I saw were rational, considerate, reflective community activists doing what they felt was best for their city. No one was in it for cronyism, money, political favors, or post election appointments; they didn't even support any particular candidate who could have bestowed such favors. It was pure. I am satisfied a principled opposition side won.
Sept. 11, 2013, 10:37 pm
Sheila says:
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:23 pm
Sheila says:
Oh stop the LIES - she lost because of her CORRUPTION, LIES, SELLING OUT the people of this city - NOT because she's gay or female. Stop covering up her record of corruption - It seems that the VAST majority of the city already knows it and THAT'S why she was defeted.
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:27 pm
Sheila says:
Thank you - and exactly right - ABQ was NOT in any way homophopic or misogynistic - just INFORMED and NOT willing to vote for the WRONG person just because of gender or sexual orientation. But I guess one must grasp at straws and spin the loss. Most NY'ers WON'T buy these lies just like they did not buy hers.
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:32 pm
Charles King says:
As a proud member of the LGBT community, and a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, I must respond to the suggestion that votes against Christine Quinn were misogynistic or homophobic. The fact of the matter is that Chris's progressive credentials were tattered y her own actions. Early in her tenure as speaker, she agressively opposed expansion of rental assistance to people with HIV who did not have AIDS and threatened with retaliation AIDS service orgnaizations who criticized her.. She sided with employer interests in watering down sick leave and other provisions to benefit low income workers. She oposed facilites such as BRC's for homeless people in her district. She was late to the battle against stop and frisk....just ask any young Black or Latino gay man or transgender womean, and you will know how anti-gay this policy has been. And, to top it all off, she reversed herself on term limits in what was blatently a self-interested move that tied her to every Bloomberg effort on behalf of business elites. Bill de Blsdio will have to prove himself. But he articulated better positions on all the issues that matter to progressive New Yorkers. Quinn lost the LGBT vote and the women's vote, and deservedly so. We saw beyond identity politics to the issures that really matter in our day to day lives. It is a remarkable measure of the sophistication of the gay vote that we voted not soley based on identiy, but for the candidate who was articulating the most progressive positions. Notwithstanding my criticisms, I believe that Chris Quinn did some really positive things for the LGBT community as Speaker and often defended the HIV community from the worst of the Bloomberg budget attacks. I believe the more progressive Quinn has a great future. But it was not her gender nor her sexual orientation that led to her defeat.
Sept. 12, 2013, 12:02 am
JSNYC says:
I will never forget the image of Christine Quinn shedding crocodile tears over her "difficult decision" to cast the deciding vote giving Bloomy a third term. Her insincerity on term limits, affordable housing, paid sick days, stop and frisk, etc. etc. are what did her in. It's a pity that she allowed "expert" political advisers and strategists to morph her into this unrecognizable Manchurian candidate.
Sept. 12, 2013, 12:11 am
William Stribling says:
Great entry, Carl, thank you!
Sept. 12, 2013, 1:53 am
William Stribling says:
Yes Jay, you are right on. Many people, like me, made small contributions to ABQ and similar advocacy groups on principle. Who paid for Quinn's campaign - can we get the list of developers and other corporate entities who planned on doing further business with her? What is it, corrupt politicians are ok to accumulate money for campaigns but citizens can not? WE MUST UNITE! Gay City News, you owe us an apology, seriously. How about an Any Newspaper But Gay City News campaign? Just kidding, kids, am a strong believer in the freedom of the press, that newspapers like Gay City News can distort or lie as they choose. We will eventually stop reading publications who make a habit of it.
Sept. 12, 2013, 2:13 am
judy frank says:
I am disappointed that Glick did not realize that the people refused to support the candidate who gave into Bloomberg and supported his third term after people voted for term limits. This is a democracy and overturning the votes of people are more than enough to get her out! I hope this doesn't affect Glick who before this, helped her community. I wish she had stayed quiet like Andrew Cuomo!
Sept. 12, 2013, 9:47 am
HKres says:
Deborah Glick has totally lost my support FIRST after she pulled her back-room deals with the Hudson River Park Act earlier this year and now her ridiculous statement. Time for her AND Richard Gottfried to consider retiring.
Sept. 12, 2013, 5:54 pm
HKres says:
ABSOLUTELY...I'm sure SKD is ready with her consulting contract.
Sept. 12, 2013, 5:55 pm
Genevieve says:
Christine Quinn lost the election because she sold out. She went against the people's will when she orchestraed the switch regarding term limits. She voted for developer Rudin regarding St. Vincent's Hospital. So did Tom Duane. A number of hospitals closed under her watch. She blocked paid leave for city employees. She supported stop and frisk. Translation: she's the female version of Mike Bloomberg. If she was elected it would be more of the same policies Bloomberg has in place. Some say that Quinn lost because she was a lesbian and a woman. That's garbage! She lost because people discovered who she really is-a first class, grade A sellout. I'm happy that she lost.
Sept. 20, 2013, 11:12 pm
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July 5, 2016, 10:41 pm

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