The campaign trail is getting a little weird, nasty – and phony.
The slap of State Sen. Brad Hoylman by a semi-deranged community newspaper publisher yesterday at the former site of St. Vincent's Hospital highlights how the opponents of Christine Quinn have been raising an issue in the race for mayor that is largely unfair.
Since this spring, an anti-Quinn group has been hammering her on St. Vincent's, putting out ads saying that the City Council speaker did little to fight the closure of the hospital in her district and instead sided with real estate developers who donated to her campaign.
But as The New York Times pointed out: " The hospital closed because it was $1 billion in debt and went bankrupt before any development could get off the ground. In the time of the budget crisis, neither the city nor the state offered St. Vincent’s enough money to bail it out. Ms. Quinn was part of a task force of public officials and labor leaders working with Gov. David Paterson that tried to save the hospital, and it would be difficult to apportion blame."
The hospital fight has been a cynical – and successful – attempt at knocking Quinn down a few pegs, questioning whether she can run the city when she can't even preserve health care in her district. Meanwhile, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is all but running on the "Save Our Hospitals" party line, getting arrested last month to protest the planned closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn and today starting a legal fight to try to halt the shuttering of Interfaith Medical Center.
The fight over hospitals – like firehouses – is extremely complicated and messy. It's something that deserves a lot of discussion and debate and probably shouldn't be reduced to a 30-second political ad. But as Christine Quinn has been learning on the campaign trail, politics isn't always fair. And meanwhile, de Blasio has found himself an issue that has pushed him to the center of a very heated race. Let's hope no one else gets slapped before Primary Day.