New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn took her campaign to become New York’s first gay and first female mayor to the historic Stonewall Inn on Friday night for a rally launching her final push leading up to the city’s Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.
The rally, which drew more than 200 people, including many of New York’s most prominent LGBT rights advocates, came one day before an NBC 4 New York-Wall Street Journal poll showed Quinn trailing her lead rival, New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, by 16 points.
The poll also showed that she and rival Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, were tied for second place in the race with 20 percent each.
Earlier polls had Quinn in the lead, but in the past month de Blasio has surged, according to several polls, putting him at 36 percent and in striking distance to capture the 40 percent threshold needed to win the Democratic nomination outright without having to compete in a runoff.
“We’re standing on hallowed ground on a place where people before us said we’re not going to get pushed around anymore,” Quinn told the Friday night rally. The event was held outside the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar that was the site of the 1969 riots by gays and transgender people in response to a police raid that’s credited with triggering the modern LGBT rights movement.
“And you know what?” said Quinn. “In the course of this campaign we’ve taken a lot of hits. We’ve been attacked over and over by my opponents and by independent expenditures. And we’re right here tonight on ground where people fought back against things much harder than we have – much harder than the attacks I’ve taken in this campaign.”
Added Quinn, “We’re moving forward because nobody has ever handed our community anything. We got there by organizing, by joining with our allies, by educating, and by pushing forward. And that’s what we’re going to do until Tuesday.”
The crowd replied by chanting, “Win with Quinn! Win with Quinn!”
But earlier in the day de Blasio was also cheered by gays as he campaigned in nearby Chelsea, a gay neighborhood in the heart of Quinn’s City Council district, according to a report by the New York Daily News, which has endorsed Quinn.
The LGBT-supportive de Blasio’s warm reception in what some said should have been unfriendly territory was viewed as yet another sign of Quinn’s struggle to capture enough votes to win a slot in the two-candidate runoff election scheduled to take place Oct. 1 if no candidate wins 40 percent of the overall vote on Tuesday.
Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor emeritus at New York’s Hunter College, told the Blade on Sunday that Quinn’s slide in the polls and struggle to beat Thompson for a second-place finish has “absolutely nothing” to do with Quinn’s sexual orientation.
Sherrill and other political observers say Quinn’s troubles, among other things, are due to the perception by many voters that she is closely aligned with three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has become highly unpopular in the past few years.
“When you’re speaker you have a choice,” Sherrill said. “You either can oppose everything the mayor does or you can be a partner in governing and help shape policies and make them wiser and improve things,” he said. “And doing things that make you an effective speaker are frequently things that don’t make you a popular candidate for mayor.”
Spokespersons for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign, national LGBT advocacy groups that have endorsed Quinn, said volunteers and staff members from the two groups were in New York working on the Quinn campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort.
In addition to the Daily News, the New York Times and the New York Post have also endorsed Quinn for mayor, calling her a skilled and seasoned politician capable of doing the best job of running New York City at this time.
The NBC 4 NY-Wall Street Journal poll, which was conducted by the Marist polling firm, showed de Blasio with 36 percent; Quinn and Thompson with 20 percent; former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner with 7 percent; New York Comptroller John Liu with 5 percent; and Bronx pastor Erick Salgado and former City Council member Sal Albanese each with 1 percent.
The poll shows that women voters support de Blasio over Quinn by a margin of 34 percent to 21 percent even though Quinn is the only woman in the race. The poll shows that de Blasio is leading Thompson among black voters by a margin of 39 percent to 25 percent even though Thompson is the only black candidate in the race and de Blasio is white.