To the extent that New York’s Democratic mayoral primary is revolving less and less around the psychodrama of Anthony Weiner, it’s actually getting more interesting and unpredictable. And in a subjective take at New York magazine today, Benjamin Wallace-Wells argues that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is now a New York Times endorsement away from becoming the front-runner:
The obvious target for de Blasio — the great, orienting prize — is the endorsement of the Times itself. Because de Blasio has little institutional or union support, his chance for victory relies on his sweeping the votes of the city’s professional liberals — of Greater Park Slope — a status that the Times alone can deliver.
Well, even without the Grey Lady’s imprimatur, the outspokenly liberal de Blasio seems to have surged into an unlikely lead. A new Quinnipiac poll today shows him doubling his support in the last three weeks and now holding 30% of the vote, with Christine Quinn (at 24%) and Bill Thompson (at 22%) battling for a second runoff spot (Weiner is at 10%). The poll also shows de Blasio with a robust lead over Quinn (54/38) or Thompson (50/41) in a runoff.
While Wallace-Wells may be right that positive coverage from the Times has made de Blasio competitive, there’s no question that rapidly growing discussion of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, at first boosted by the Zimmerman-Martin saga, and now placed front-and-center by yesterday’s federal court rulingdeclaring the policy unconstitional, is a very big factor in his favor among Democratic primary voters. Quinnipiac found them opposing stop-and-frisk by a 60-31 margin, and by a 66-31 margin supporting the appointment of an inspector general to oversee NYPD practices. De Blasio has strongly supported this latter policy, while Thompson has opposed it on grounds that any mayor should be able to run the police department without independent oversight (Quinn, too, has supported independent oversight).
The focus on stop-and-frisk more generally helps de Blasio as the candidate most identified with a sharp turn away from Michael Bloomberg’s policies as mayor. We’ll have to wait and see if the focus remains until September 10, when votes are finally cast, and until October 1, the runoff date.