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August 20, 2013 5:05 PM Parallel Universes

By Ed Kilgore

At Ten Miles Square today, Raymond Smith of the Progressive Policy Institute and Columbia University has an amusing take on the current New York City Democratic mayoral primary as exhibiting the same basic dynamics as the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contest. Here’s a sample:

The Mitt Romney of the race is NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The establishment candidate and long the presumptive front-runner, Quinn has been enduring her own version of the “Anybody But Mitt” phenomenon. As with Romney, the major rap on Quinn is that she’s ranged so widely in her political stances - from street-protesting outsider to left-leaning Councilmember to perceived Bloomberg crony - that voters aren’t sure quite what she stands for. Like Romney, Quinn has held a core of support throughout the race but has been unable to expand it.
In recent polls, the momentum has been going to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is turning out to be the Rick Santorum of the race (though both men would abjure the comparison). Initially little-known and not terribly well-financed, both politicians are “true believers” and both prominently showcased their families as exemplars of their values. De Blasio’s commercials —featuring his African-American wife (who once prominently self-identified as lesbian) and a 15-year old son with an enormous Afro — underscore the social and ideological chasm between the candidate and Santorum. Yet, in the same way that Santorum had a late conservative-driven surge against Romney, de Blasio has lately emerged as the “authentic progressive” alternative to Quinn.

Smith goes on to compare Bill Thompson to Newt Gingrich and Anthony Weiner to a combination of Rick Perry and Herman Cain. Whether you agree with these characterizations or not, Smith is right about one thing: New York’s runoff requirement if no candidate wins over 40% of the vote in the primary creates a potentially different end-game:

Those fans of “fantasy politics” who are still pondering the outcome of a head-to-head showdown between Romney and Santorum or between Romney and Gingrich (or even conceivably, between Gingrich and Santorum) just might get a little closure come October 1.
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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