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Sizing up the Democratic mayoral candidates: de Blasio, Quinn, Thompson, Liu and Weiner

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 5/31/2013, 12:32 p.m.

Camera ready and at every rally. Press releases galore and displaying opinions about everything. New York City's in the beginning stages of being bombarded with the presence of mayoral candidates making sure you know their face and their platforms. While the city and the state decide when the mayoral primaries will take place, making sure their names are on the tongues of residents is of the utmost importance. Despite most of the candidates not officially declaring to run, it's only a matter of time.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is working on the mayoral race. With his experience in the David Dinkins administration and his work with the Clintons, de Blasio shouldn't be counted out immediately as he's been by some in the mainstream media. He's already gone after presumed Democratic nominee Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Following her State of the City address, de Blasio released a statement that challenged Quinn on her work for the working class and focus on creating a new middle class.

"Strengthening and expanding the middle class requires more than lofty words and playing an assigned role in the annual kabuki theater that our city budget process has become," stated de Blasio. "From paid sick leave to early-childhood and after-school program expansion to small business advocacy, Speaker Quinn has partnered with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in blocking programs that would make a real difference to the lives of working families. If the next four years at City Hall are simply a continuation of the last 12, we will have failed millions of forgotten New Yorkers who deserve a mayor who speaks for them."

The consistent tactic by other candidates to tie Quinn to mayor Bloomberg could be a winning strategy, but Quinn continues to rack up endorsements (including a recent one from the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union). Quinn's mastery of the political landscape of New York and her relationships with those on the inside put her at a significant advantage compared to the other democratic mayoral candidates. But as the council speaker redirects her focus to income inequality, ties to Bloomberg could be the bane of her campaign's existence, if the others play their cards right. Last year, she infamously left a rally at City Hall when the criticism of the current mayor became too harsh.

Criticizing the mayor harshly isn't a big deal for people like former New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. Thompson barely lost to Bloomberg in the 2009 election. But much of the criticism for that loss didn't lie in Bloomberg's money overpowering everything in its path--it was on Thompson for his alleged inability to inspire and excite the portion of New York that wanted to move away from the Bloomberg administration.

With so much of politics being tied to an ability to sell yourself and have the personality to match, the former comptroller might have a hard time riling up those, despite his measured, numbers-oriented approach to handling the city's problems.

But current city Comptroller John Liu has another set of issues to deal with while attempting to meet his mayoral aspirations. Jenny Hou, Liu's former campaign treasurer, is accused of setting up phony straw donors to benefit Liu's mayoral campaign, for which he still hasn't officially declared.