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Quinn Reveals Past Struggles With Bulimia, Alcoholism

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The race for mayor is taking a personal turn, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn saying she has battled alcoholism and bulimia. She said she wants the disclosure to help young women and denied that politics are behind it. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

She's climbed almost to the top of New York politics, but all the while, Christine Quinn held secrets about her past.

The City Council speaker said Tuesday that she considers herself to be an alcoholic. She said she also suffers from bulimia.

For 10 years, she binged and purged on food. It started when she was 16, while she was caring for her dying mother.

She's been to treatment, though she won't say if she still is.

"The second A in Alcoholics Anonymous is anonymous, and so I'm going to honor the tradition of that program and I'm not going to answer one way or another about membership in that program," she said. "But I want to be clear. With both of those challenges, I've been able to overcome them because I've asked for help. And I asked for help, and I got help."

Her talk at Barnard College came amid a heated fight for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Quinn said she's not trying to soften her image. She said she's after helping troubled young women, not more votes.

The event was coordinated by her mayoral campaign, with her top political aide in the audience after mostly staying behind the scenes.

Quinn has been speaker since 2006, a position that draws daily attention from the press. She said she wasn't ready until now to be more open about her past, and she said she's not trying to set a new standard for those running for elected office, that they, too, have to reveal more.

It may be too late. The wife of rival Bill de Blasio has talked about identifying as a lesbian, and potential rival Anthony Weiner has talked at length about what led to him to send obscene pictures of himself.

Quinn is set to release a memoir next month.

There are other theories why Quinn is speaking now, from drawing women voters to regaining the campaign spotlight, but journalist Joyce Purnick sees an old adage of politics: air your uncomfortable facts before someone else does.

"This is New York City. Nothing stays a secret in this town," Purnick said. "And if they don't get it out there, someone else will."

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