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Council Speaker hopes to make history in NYC mayoral race

Seth Wenig / AP

Surrounded by family and supporters, New York City Council speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, center, speaks to the media as she announces her mayoral run in New York onĀ  March 10.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced on Sunday that she hopes to make history by officially declaring her candidacy for mayor of the nation’s largest city.

If successful, Quinn would be both the first female and first openly gay mayor to ever lead America's largest city.

The announcement, which was made on Twitter, came as no surprise, since polls show the New York City veteran as the early frontrunner. Quinn also released an autobiographical video describing her blue-collar upbringing, her father’s history as a union leader and the lessons learned from her mother’s death when she was 16.

It’s those lessons, Quinn says, that shaped her politics. “My mother’s life and death left me with the belief that our obligation is to use every moment we have on this earth to make it a better place,” she says in the video.

But the five minute introduction also showcases what may be one of the difficulties of Quinn’s candidacy. Nowhere in the video does she mention that she is gay — only that she headed the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. Quinn also does not mention her wife, whom she married in New York last year in what was one of the most high profile same-sex weddings of any politician.

New York State legalized gay marriage in 2011 and last November elected its first openly gay member of Congress, Sean Patrick Maloney.

Shortly after Quinn released the video, she walked and tweeted her way through all five of the city’s boroughs in a “Walk and Talk” campaign event. 

“It’s a great way to hear directly from New Yorkers, what’s going on in your homes, what’s going on in their lives, so I can make sure when I’m mayor, my focus is their focus,” she said in the video.

For years Quinn has been believed to be eying a mayoral bid and enjoys the support of political ally and outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A Quinnipiac University poll in late February showed her with 37 percent support, a commanding lead over her Democratic challengers ahead of the primary expected in September.

But Quinn, who has been on City Council since 1999, has a long record in politics that give her opponents plenty to bring to light over the course of a hard fought campaign. She has already been criticized for her proximity to Bloomberg, calling her another political insider that has forgotten about the middle class.   

“I’m about keeping New York city a place for the middle class, to live and grow. And a place that’s going to help all of those hardworking people get into the middle class,” she says in her campaign announcement, in which she is seated at a diner.

Though the video is simple, is has all the polish of a well-produced national political ad. The ad was created by SKD Knickerbocker, the New York Times reports, a firm that has also done political ads for Bloomberg.

In the Democratic primary, Quinn will likely face off against former city councilman Sal Albanese, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Comptroller John Liu; and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.