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Boss Quinn

On the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend, Quinn was riding in her city SUV down the FDR Drive, after visiting a Bronx community center. She showed me a 28-step style-makeover chart created for her by a makeup consultant. “I can almost remember all of them,” she said. She also confided about the awkwardness of a recent meeting with Cardinal Edward Egan. Her sexual orientation didn’t come up, she said, but the cardinal made it clear he disapproved of her position against school choice.

Even though Quinn has not yet put up pictures on the walls of her office, speculation has already begun about what she’ll run for next. There’s talk about whether she’ll make a bid for mayor in 2009. Maura Keaney says Quinn freaks whenever people mention the mayor’s race, turning red at the idea. “She’ll say, ‘I couldn’t possibly know enough to run the city.’ ” But then Keaney adds, “Look, my husband [Mark Guma] is Chris’s political consultant. In two years, will there be a conversation about what Chris might want to do next? Absolutely.”

Quinn, of course, brushes aside questions about her future plans. “The frustrating part of politics is that you’re never just doing what you’re doing,” she says. “If someone were named head of Bear Stearns, no one would say, ‘What company are you going to run next?’ ” Later, when I told her that one local politician suggested that she’s making nice to Bloomberg to position herself for a future race, she laughed. “When I watch the press conferences later, I seem not to manage to stand in the best spot to get into the pictures,” she said. “So if I really want to get that bang for my buck, I need to have a better camera sense and sharper elbows.” The speaker’s post, it’s worth noting, has not been a great political springboard of late. Miller finished an embarrassing fourth in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Still, the career-speculation game doesn’t end there. In March, Quinn headlined a gay fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton and is working on “message documents” for Clinton and other members of the New York delegation to use for the upcoming debate on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. And two of Quinn’s high-level hires have close ties to Clinton: finance director Michael Keogh, who previously worked in Bloomberg’s Office of State Legislative Affairs and is married to Hillary aide Karen Persichilli, and her new chief counsel, Liz Fine, who worked in the Clinton White House legal counsel’s office. “Chris is picking up chits and increasing her Rolodex,” says a lobbyist. “If lighting strikes and Hillary becomes president, a nice girl from the West Village could do well for herself.”

In April, at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at the Mandarin Oriental, Bill Clinton took the podium and told the crowd that his wife had described Quinn to him by saying, “ ‘You will not believe how good this woman is . . . She’s even a better politician than you are.’ ”

Recalling that moment, Quinn sounded like a starstruck kid. “It was crazy. It was so exciting. It was unthinkably great. I thought, between that and the New York Post saying my budget response didn’t stink, that I should resign immediately and move to Vermont and open a goat-cheese farm.”

For the moment, anyway, Vermont would have to wait. In the next few days, she’d be attending more budget meetings at City Hall, a Memorial Day appearance on the Intrepid, and the state Democratic convention in Buffalo.