Christine Quinn’s final state of the city speech as city council speaker this afternoon doubled as an unofficial 2013 mayoral campaign speech. Her theme, helping the city’s middle class, was political apple pie, with its most interesting ideas — particularly a major expansion of subsidized and rent-protected housing — aimed squarely at a liberal Democratic primary electorate. Not that they weren’t also good ideas, even if Quinn has had a mixed record on middle-class issues during her tenure as speaker. Trying to create jobs by replicating the redevelopment success of the Brooklyn Navy Yard at other underused industrial areas is a worthy goal, for instance. But most of her proposals would take many years to accomplish and would benefit greatly from the support of (wink, wink) the city’s next mayor.
Larry Quinn, 86, introduced his daughter and connected 100 years of Quinn family history to New York’s middle-class dream. He then took a seat to the right of the podium, in a section almost equally divided between Quinn’s relatives and her political family — consultants, strategists, and fund-raisers. At the other end of the front row from Quinn’s dad sat Emily Giske, whose lobbying firm is among the best connected at City Hall and in Albany. Giske is a longtime personal friend of Quinn’s and a sometime adviser. So far Quinn’s primary opponents have, understandably, focused on criticizing her as an extension of Mike Bloomberg. But as the campaign heats up, it will be interesting to see if any of them tries to argue that Quinn is, for all her cultural difference, just one more old-school, compromised pol.