Collins: Off to the mayoral races — animals in tow

  • New York City mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson participates in a stickball challenge in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Big primary election for mayor of New York City this week, people. Let's take a look at what's been going on. If you stick with me, I promise animal stories. Including kittens.

Right now the big news is on the Democratic side where Bill de Blasio, the current public advocate, has been shooting ahead in the polls. Skyrocketing! Perhaps this is because he has one of the most interesting families in the history of politics, including an African-American wife who says she only dated women until she fell in love with de Blasio, and a 16-year-old son, Dante, who made a really lovely TV ad about his father. By now, more New Yorkers may be aware of Dante's spectacular Afro than any other factor in the entire campaign. So it definitely could be the family.

It could also be because de Blasio is nearly 6? feet tall. New Yorkers like to think big.

It would probably not be because of his work as public advocate. The New York City public advocate does not really have any work to do. His job is mainly to call news conferences and denounce things. We have quite a few elective posts like that around here.

But it could be the carriage horses. We will get to them in a minute.

When the race began, the two big names were Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, and Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller. Thompson is low-key. So low that Chris Smith of New York magazine interviewed an enthusiastic woman at a Thompson rally who said that in 2009 she had voted "for the opposite of Bloomberg. The Democrat. Whoever that was." It was Thompson.

Quinn, who would be both the first female mayor and the first openly gay mayor in city history, was the early favorite. But now the latest Quinnipiac poll has her struggling with Thompson for second place, while de Blasio is threatening to sew up the nomination in the first round by winning more than 40 percent of the vote.

It is possible that Quinn is having a hard time because she's a woman. Really, unless you're Hillary Clinton, New York is tough. Also, she is the candidate most identified with Michael Bloomberg. We feel as if Bloomberg has been running the city since the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

And don't discount the Central Park carriage horses. Animal rights advocates have long yearned to abolish the industry, and Quinn is the only major Democrat who disagrees. The horses are very well protected by regulation — they have to have five weeks of out-of-town vacation a year. French workers do not have as good a holiday package as the Central Park carriage horses. However, the horses do have to walk through traffic, which makes many people uncomfortable.

The horses became a huge issue early in the campaign, when there was an entire mayoral forum devoted to the subject of animal protection. In it, John Catsimatidis, one of the Republican candidates, described how his wife tried to save the family's aged cat with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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