Thursday, November 5, 2009

For Quinn, Election Night Was About Shoring Up Queens by Chris Bragg - City Hall News

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While much of the city’s Democratic establishment was on the dais at the midtown Hilton Tuesday night to celebrate Bill Thompson’s near-stunning upset of Mike Bloomberg, Christine Quinn spent her evening at a dive bar in Queens.

The Council speaker arrived at Woodhaven House, an Irish pub in Rego Park a half hour before most of the other people who came to celebrate Council Member Liz Crowley’s victory over Tom Ognibene. Quinn waited for Crowley—and her cousin, county leader Joe Crowley—to arrive, kibitzing with district leaders and campaign volunteers about the early returns.

As the too-close-to-call mayoral race unfolded on a nearby television, Quinn went to stand alongside Queens Democratic Party elected officials honoring Crowley’s win.

“Helping Liz keep this seat was incredibly important to me and the whole City Council,” Quinn said.

A bagpiper came on to serenade the crowd, while Queens Democrats commiserated over the losses of Kevin Kim, Yen Chou and Frank Gulluscio. Quinn stayed past 11:30.

Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf (who spent the evening at the Sheraton, celebrating with Bloomberg, his main client for this election season) said that Quinn’s presence in Queens demonstrated her need to retain the support of Queens Democrats as she seeks to retain her speakership.

“All politics starts at home,” Sheinkopf said. “You go to where you strength was in the first place, and for her, that’s in Queens.”

Four years ago, Queens County’s unified support of Quinn gave her the votes that put her over the top in the race for speaker against Bill de Blasio, now the public advocate-elect.

Queens Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich said that Quinn also stopped by other Queens party members’ events.

“She’s a very smart politician,” Reich said. “She was going around the recognizing her members. That’s what you’d expect her to do.”

Quinn spokeswoman Maria Alvarado, meanwhile, tamped down any rumors Quinn was worried about retaining her speakership—or that a falling out with Thompson over her late endorsement in the mayor’s race let to her absence at the Hilton on Tuesday night.

Alvarado said that Quinn had simply been in Queens all day campaigning for several Council candidates and decided to stay in the borough for the evening.

“Afterwards, she went to a celebration with those members,” Alvarado said. “She is speaker, and her first responsibility is to her Council members.”

Cropped Photo by - William Alatriste