Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Yorkers punish term limits foe in mayor's race

At first considered the front-runner, term limits foe Christine Quinn went down in flames Tuesday as New York Democrats chose Bill de Blasio to be their nominee for New York City mayor. She didn't even end up in second place, trailing far behind William Thompson.

Quinn's flame out was not quite as spectacular as that of Anthony Weiner, but it followed a similar course.

Quinn was Speaker of the New York City Council in 2007 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided he wanted to run for office for a third term in defiance of New York's term limits law. The popular 8-year term limit had been passed and  then reaffirmed by voters in 1993 and 1996.

After internal polling showed voters would again affirm term limits in 2008, Mayor Bloomberg decided to simply ignore the earlier referenda and lengthened term limits from 8 to 12 years via a simple council vote. Oh yes, it lengthened the terms of the council too. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

The ringleader for this betrayal of the voters was Chris Quinn. Voters never forgot. Term limits dogged her campaign since day one and many prominent supporters pointed to the issue as the primary reason for turning to de Blasio or Thompson.

Quinn, a married lesbian, was quoted by the New York Daily News saying that although her candidacy fell short, she hoped it enabled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens across the city to dream that they could make history someday. That's nice, but exit polling suggests she lost the gay vote too.

The May 1 Village Voice headline read: "LGBT purists to Christine Quinn: We'd love a gay mayor. Just not you." The Voice's Steve Weinstein wrote that Quinn's detractors point to 2006, when her peers elected her speaker, as the moment when she sold out her progressive base ... sucking up to a man [Bloomberg] whose endorsement would help smooth her way into the mayoralty. Two years after becoming speaker, Quinn led the council in overturning two voter referenda on term limits, enabling Bloomberg -- and City Council members -- to run for a third term ... That single action is likely to define her career."

"Among everyone I know, the first thing they say is, 'She betrayed us on term limits,'" gay rights activist Louis Flores told the Voice.

Quinn betrayed all New Yorkers and paid the price on election day when she had to run as a challenger in a competitive race. And that is the most important feature of term limits and the open seats they create: the people can have their say.