I've looked at the Democratic and Republican fields for mayor so today I'm turning my attention to the question of whether there could be a third way – could a third-party candidate actually win the battle for Gracie Mansion in November?
The recent evidence is daunting. In the modern history of the city, only Vincent Impellitteri in 1950 and John Lindsay in 1973 were able to win as third-party candidates and in both cases, they were already mayor. But at least two third-party candidates are hoping to make history and buck that trend so let's take a look at them.
Once a rising star in the Democratic party, Carrion was the Bronx Borough President for more than six years before joining the Obama administration and then his career promptly stalled. Although he ran the White House's new Office of Urban Affairs Policy, he alienated several key White House aides – including senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. And urban policy hasn't exactly been the hallmark of the Obama administration. Ten years ago, you wouldn't have been shocked if someone told you that Carrion would be running for mayor in 2013. But you would have swallowed your tongue if that person told you that Carion wouldn't be running as a Democrat and focusing instead on the Independence Party line.
Pros: Carrion will very likely be the only Latino candidate on the ballot in November. He is well-known in The Bronx and is quite schooled in the city's issues from his years on the City Council and in Borough Hall. He keeps up a busy schedule on the campaign trail and is extremely personable.
Cons: He has only $327,000 in his campaign account – which is nothing compared to the major candidates in the race who have millions of dollars in their warchests. The city's Independence Party – which is backing Carrion -- is run by people who have been likened to anti-Semitic cult leaders. Carrion is having a lot of difficulty getting any attention in a political season that has been dominated by Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and Christine Quinn.
Just when you thought you had learned the names of all of the candidates, a tech whiz named Jack Hidary is trying to enter the race. (Full disclosure: I went to college with Hidary and was friends with him there.) Hidary is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Michael Bloomberg in 2001 where New Yorkers wanted a tech-savvy non-ideological entrepreneur to run things. Jack is coming on "The Road to City Hall" tonight to make his case for his campaign.
Pros: Jack has a ton of energy – and also potentially could fund his campaign through his personal fortune and his friends in the tech industry. He will certainly come up with some interesting ideas that could be thrown into the mix on the campaign trail.
Cons: Jack Who? A radio reporter this morning didn't even know how to pronounce the new candidate's name. (Memo to WCBS-AM: it's "HID-a-ree"). Running for mayor as a third-party candidate and as a political rookie is a jump into a very deep end of a pool. While it's possible he could fund a viable campaign, he doesn't have the Bloomberg bucks in which he can swamp his opponents with money.
The addition of all of these candidates means that there could be a very crowded ballot in the general election. This could create a potential headache for the Democratic Party nominee with some Latino voters drifting to Carrion and other Democrats tor Hidary. While a win would be a political miracle for either of these candidates, they could both end up helping the GOP nominee if the general election campaign ends up being tight.
Here's a quick sidenote on former Mayor David Dinkins: The Times' Sam Roberts is playing up a passage in a new book by Dinkins in which he claims that he barely became mayor in 1989 and then lost the mayoralty in 1993 because of racism. For years, Dinkins has made similar claims in interviews on NY1. Most recently in 2011, the former mayor told our Budd Mishkin about his tight victory in 1989: "I maintained it was racism, pure and simple, I go up against Rudy, who maybe is a great American but nobody knew then. And I hadn't had time to screw up anything. I hadn't been mayor. So Crown Heights had not occurred. I hadn't done anything bad. So how come? Go figure."
*A quick addendum to something I said on the air earlier today with Pat Kiernan: In 1993, when Rudy Giuliani took on an ambulance crew over where they were taking a 13-year-old victim, he was mayor-elect—not a mayoral candidate as I said.
Programming note: I will be off tomorrow and Friday. Stay cool and I'll return Monday!