The 2013 race for mayor has lately also seemed to be a contest in oversharing. Two years ago, the presumed front-runner, Anthony Weiner, got an early start on the trend, involuntarily, when he mis-tweeted his way out of Congress. In December, the New York Observer unearthed a 1979 essay by Chirlane McCray about embracing her identity as a lesbian; McCray is now married to Bill de Blasio, the public advocate and mayoral candidate, and last week McCray returned to the pages of Essence to explain her sexual evolution. Now comes the rollout of the current front-runner’s memoir, with Christine Quinn revealing not just her past struggles with bulimia and alcoholism, but girly details about her engagement and marriage to Kim Catullo.
The Quinn campaign has planned, from the beginning, to make her compelling life story a large part of Quinn’s campaign. Partly that’s because it’s who she is: a brash broad from a blue-collar background who has had an unusually complicated personal saga for an elected official. But Quinn’s newly confessional tack is, inescapably, a strategic political choice, too — and it’s another sign that 2013 is going to be a close and unpredictable contest, so all the candidates will use every weapon available, be it policy know-how, racial empathy, or triumph over an eating disorder. Quinn is trying to show she’s more than simply a sharp-elbowed and -tongued political operator, and that she’s more of a regular person than her greatest political asset and liability, Mike Bloomberg. The publication date of Quinn’s book was set months ago, but the timing also makes it look, inadvertently, as if she’s trying to change the momentum after a bumpy couple of months in her campaign. So far the revelations have earned Quinn tasteless ridicule from Al D’Amato and more accurate, if equally harsh, criticism from Maureen Dowd. But Quinn is likely to get a more nuanced, and more sympathetic, hearing from the audience she cares about most in this personal-political push: female voters. Whatever endearing secrets Quinn’s mayoral competitors may be waiting to unveil, they will still all be men.