Call him New York’s Ray of hope.
Republicans eager to have a viable candidate in the 2013 mayoral race are ready to back Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, which is not a far-fetched idea considering that a Quinnipiac poll of city voters released Wednesday put him well ahead of other potential contenders.
The citys top cop has continually swatted rumors that he'd trade One Police Plaza for City Hall, but his boosters told amNewYork theyre hoping he'll have a change of heart. The latest poll shows 25% of voters would pull the lever for Kelly. Council Speaker Christine Quinn came in second with 17% and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz had 14%.
“I’ve been recruiting Ray to run for the past half a dozen years,” said Guy Molinari, a friend and former Staten Island borough president.
He said when he last had lunch with Kelly about two and a half months ago, the commish did show “mild interest” in the idea of running, but Kelly has made no plans to mount a campaign.
“If he says he wants to run, I’d like to sit down with him and figure out what’s the best way to approach it,” Molinari said.
Although voter records show Kelly, 70, is not registered with a particular party, Republicans believe he may want to run on the GOP ticket because he could attract top fundraisers and wouldn’t have to deal with a Democratic primary expected to have several candidates.
Kelly “hits the ground running,” said State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), a former cop. “He brings to the table that management skill and knows how to keep the city safe. I’ll be part of the draft team.”
But NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Kelly “hasn’t changed his position” about entering politics.
His supporters say he’d have a relatively strong record to run on, given how the city’s crime rate has stayed low and the Big Apple hasn’t suffered a serious terrorist attack since 9/11.
“As police commissioner, he’s in a volatile situation,” said Bruce Berg, a Fordham University political science professor. “With Occupy Wall Street, with stop-and-frisk and other issues that can arise, he’s been very good with staying above the fray with the trials and tribulations of the NYPD.”
Kelly merely tops the polls now, Berg added, because of name recognition and visibility – he’s also a dapper dresser known to hobnob at red carpet events.
Democratic strategist George Arzt said the true 2013 frontrunner won’t emerge until politicians announce their candidacies and start campaigning.
“Kelly is a little like the 800-pound gorilla in this race because there are lots of people who yearn for another candidate than what’s out there,” Arzt said.
Observers opined that once his time as police commissioner ends, Kelly could easily find high-paying work in the private sector.
“Knowing Ray as I do, I don’t think he’d want to be a consultant,” Molinari said. “He’s such a self-effacing guy, he’d just want to be a private citizen and spend time with the family.”
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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
Raised: Upper West Side
Family: wife Veronica; sons James and Greg (morning anchor on Fox 5 New York)
Experience: Retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves (served in Vietnam); police commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins (1992-1994); under secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (1996-1998); police commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002-present).
Future options: Security/terrorism consultant in private sector; high-profile position with the FBI; retirement