Ray Kelly Is the Front-runner for the 2013 Mayoral Race

Will Ray Kelly stop and frisk himself for the desire to run for mayor, or something? Photo: Michael Stewart/WireImage

In a very early look at the next mayoral election, which won't happen for another two-plus years, Quinnipiac finds Police Commissioner Ray Kelly easily leading a crowded, Weiner-less field. On the one hand, this is not surprising: There are about 1,000 or so prospective Democratic candidates splitting the Democratic vote, while Kelly, an independent who would probably run as a Republican, has the GOP field all to himself at this point (the poll didn't ask about Dick Grasso, or, on the Democratic side, Alec Baldwin). But! The cross-tab numbers show Kelly in a strong position regardless. Among Democratic voters only, he receives 17 percent support, second only to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. And he leads all candidates among independents with 27 percent support. Just one problem, pollster Mickey Carroll points out:

"Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has never given the faintest hint that he'd like to move from Police Headquarters across the street to City Hall..."

That's not exactly true. While Kelly hasn't (publicly) expressed any interest in running in 2013, he's been flirting with the idea for a long time. In 1995, he refused to rule out a 1997 run against Rudy Giuliani, and he entertained the idea of a candidacy in 2009 before Mayor Bloomberg decided to stick around for another term, according to reporting by New York's own Geoffrey Gray:

Kelly’s disciplined work ethic, his command of the NYPD, the steady downtick of crime, and his name recognition made him a momentary favorite in the 2009 mayor’s race—that is, before his boss, Bloomberg, decided to go for a third term. While Kelly denied it, even saying that he “had no desire” to run for public office, sources say he did entertain the idea, even meeting privately with Republican strategist Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign. While Browne claims Kelly and Reed merely bumped into each other at an event, a source close to Reed says the two met at the behest of a mutual friend “to see what [a campaign] might look like.”

Reed and Kelly spoke in the midtown office of one of Reed’s clients for roughly 40 minutes, the source says. One topic was how Kelly, as a registered independent, would navigate the party system in New York. A more critical one was Kelly’s relationship with Bloomberg. Reed asked Kelly if he would be running with Bloomberg’s endorsement. “I don’t know,” Kelly said, according to the source. (Browne says the meeting with Reed never happened, and insists Kelly has never had mayoral aspirations.)

Perhaps flattering polls like today's will rekindle Kelly's interest in a mayoral run one more time, but for now, his thoughts on 2013 remain a mystery.

July 27, 2011 - Kelly Top Of The Heap For New York City Mayor, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Bloomberg Inches Back To A Positive Approval [Quinnipiac]