Quinn Uses Role as Bloomberg Substitute Powerfully

NEW YORK -

She is just one of several mayoral candidates, but Christine Quinn has been using her position as City Council speaker to devastating effect in recent days to project a unique mayoral image.

On Monday, it was Quinn who stood behind the lectern with the schools chancellor to announce a plan to improve reading lessons. The mayor was overseas, but for some reason it was the second time in a week Bloomberg allowed her to take center stage at a big event.

“She is using her position to project the image of being mayoral,” Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s certainly taking advantage of the powers of quasi-incumbency.”

Quinn’s campaign may be eager to shift attention away from the attack ads launched by her primary opponents and anonymous super-PACs. Her strategy appears to be emphasizing her policy proposals and her stature as a powerful city official.

It was not the first time Quinn stood in for Bloomberg for a major policy announcement. Last Monday, she joined the health commissioner to propose an increase in the minimum age for buying cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Aides to Bloomberg, who has until now taken a lead on such health matters, said he had a scheduling conflict and could not attend.

Quinn’s appearances have made the most of her longtime relationship with the mayor, who has publicly said he wants her to succeed him but has privately asked other people to run.

Other types of help came subtly, such as a media inquiry to a mayoral agency that yielded a reply from Quinn’s office, which had not been previously contacted.

“The mayor, without officially endorsing her, is helping her with his administration,” said George Arzt, a Democratic consultant who is not affiliated with any mayoral candidate in the current election cycle. “And it has helped her during this period.”

The strategy risks a backlash from Quinn’s opponents, who say she is too closely aligned with the mayor. Many voters have lashed out at her for backing  Bloomberg’s 2008 rescinding of a term-limits referendum to allow him to run for a third time.

“Speaker Quinn has been standing so close to the mayor for seven years his commissioners probably can’t tell the difference,” said Dan Levitan, a spokesman for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.