Former New York City mayor Ed Koch said Monday that he would endorse City Council speaker Christine Quinn for mayor in 2013, calling the out lesbian elected official the ideal "center-to-the-left" candidate.
The endorsement was first reported in The New York Observer, which said that Koch backed Quinn after it became clear that his favorite, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, would not run. Koch contributed $1,000 to Quinn in late June around the time the marriage equality bill, which both he and the speaker publicly supported, passed the state legislature.
"I believe that she is the best one for New York because I think she'll be in the tradition of being in the center -- a center candidate like I was center left," said Koch, 87, who served as mayor from 1978 to 1989. "I think she'll follow in the tradition of Mike Bloomberg, and of all the candidates, I think she has the most experience and the best philosophy to lead New York in these difficult times."
With strong fund-raising and a close working relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, Quinn is perceived as a front-runner in the crowded Democratic field. The Koch endorsement could help secure the support of middle-class white voters from the outer boroughs who have been up for grabs since former congressman Anthony Weiner of Queens resigned following a sexting scandal.
Koch, no stranger to cross party endorsements, has been enjoying a reputation as a kingmaker of late. In September he successfully lent his backing to Republican Bob Turner in the special election to succeed Weiner in the 9th Congressional District covering Brooklyn and Queens. Koch positioned the race among Jewish voters in the district as a referendum on the Obama administration's policy toward Israel.
Meanwhile, with just under two years to go before the Democratic primary, Quinn has yet to announce her candidacy formally. She declined to answer a question about her mayoral aspirations in a recent interview with the Washington Blade. If elected mayor, she would become the first woman and the first openly gay person to hold the office.