Koch touts Ray Kelly for 2013, and Kelly touts John Catsimatidis

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Kelly and Quinn. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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Manhattan G.O.P. chairman Daniel Isaacs said he approached New York Police Department commissioner Ray Kelly on March 31 during the Inner Circle Show, the roast of politicians by New York political reporters held annually at at the Hilton Hotel.

Their very brief conversation went like this, according to Isaacs:

Isaacs: "Hey Commissioner, how are ya? Any interest? We want to talk to you."

Kelly: "I'm a big fan of John Catsimatidis."

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That would be the supermarket magnate and major political donor who's not loyal to either party and has periodically talked about running for mayor. 

Isaacs, speaking to me this morning, "We'd be blessed to have either one as our candidate."

Kelly's name was floated again today in a Fred Dicker column driven by quotes from former state Republican chairman Bill Powers, who suggested that the media's reporting on police policy was all an attempt to smear Kelly and keep him out of politics. According to Powers, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (who has in fact said she'd invite Kelly to stay on as commissioner if she became mayor) was behind the criticism "because she doesn't want to face Kelly in the election next year." And according to an unnamed source in the same column, the criticism was making Kelly more likely to run.

Former mayor Ed Koch, who has endorsed Quinn but has said that his first-choice candidate would be Kelly, told me today that Powers' idea was not credible.

"I don't think she controls the editorial policies of New York magazine," Koch said. "That's ridiculous. The latest attack on Ray Kelly comes in New York magazine. Does she control them? I doubt it."

"But," Koch, said, "I happen to believe he is being attacked."

Koch said Kelly is coming under fire for taking aggressive but necessary steps to keep New York City safe from terrorism and street crime. Those steps include putting Muslim groups under surveillance and using a record number of stop-and-frisks in high-crime neighborhoods.

"They think he's rethinking his position," Koch said. "I hope he does."

"He knows where I stand," Koch said. "I urged him, heavily, to run. He knows that if he were to run, I would support him. But I don't have to call him."

Koch's dissatisfaction with the candidates is obvious.

"The problem is many people, myself included, believe that the candidates who are out there are drifting back to the old philosophy that brought this city bankruptcy with their support of stopping stop-and-frisk, and making the city unsafe in that way, in my judgment," he said. And the "living wage bill, which I think is ridiculous."

"Those are things that are giving lots of people pause as it relates to what will happen to the city if we don't have a candidate who is moderate and follows in the footsteps of, I'm proud to say, of myself, Giuliani, and Bloomberg," he said. "And we see that not happening."

I asked if that assessment included Quinn.

"Yes," he said.

I asked whether he was reconsidering his support of her.

"I'm not reconsidering it," he said. "If Ray Kelly were to get into the race I would be supportive of Ray Kelly."