Ray Kelly, non-candidate, gets a deadline for becoming one

Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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Ray Kelly will have to decide by this fall if he is going to run for mayor, according to the chairmen of New York City's five Republican county organizations, who released a statement this afternoon describing their interest in speaking with the popular police commissioner.

In the joint statement, the chairman said a meeting with them "will be a critical step for Kelly or any prospective candidate if he or she is serious about the possibility of running."

That kind of meeting took place in 2009, when Michael Bloomberg sought permission to run on their line after he had officially left the Republican Party in his second term. Kelly is not enrolled in any party and would need support from three of the five chairman in order to run on the Republican line. (A registered Republican could run, and possibly force a primary contest, without the chairmen's permission.)

To say that the chairmen have "an interest" in talking to Kelly is putting it mildly. The Manhattan chair, Dan Isaacs, told me he's run into Kelly on a few occasions, and that he explicitly prodded him to run. (Kelly responded, according to Isaacs, with amused non-interest.)

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But as Republican councilman Eric Ulrich told me, and as the chairmen almost certainly realize, even if they can't say so publicly, the party doesn't have any other particularly credible-looking mayoral options at the moment.

In addition to discussing Kelly, according to the statement from the chairmen, they discussed "the pros and cons" of other "potential candidates," including Diana Taylor, the former banking commissioner and girlfriend of Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Dick Grasso, the former head of the New York Stock Exchange and devoted critic of former governor Eliot Spitzer; State Senator Marty Golden of Brooklyn; former Democratic city councilwoman and charter-school-network founder Eva Moskowitz; and former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion, a Democrat who has veered from Democratic orthodoxy on economic and housing issues.

Here's the full, and unusual, statement:

Last night, the NYC Republican Party Chairmen met over dinner in a midtown restaurant to discuss upcoming races, including potential candidates for Mayor in 2013. The Chairmen, Craig Eaton of Brooklyn, Dan Isaacs of Manhattan, Phil Ragusa of Queens and Jay Savino of the Bronx, were joined at this meeting by publisher Tom Allon, one of many candidates already declared to run for Mayor. Allon is without question the most moderate, pro-business candidate in the Democratic field and is weighing changing to the Republican Party. Staten Island Chairman Robert Scamardella was unable to attend.

The Chairmen have met on an almost monthly basis to discuss prospects for upcoming races and ensure that New York voters will have an opportunity to vote to continue the Giuliani-Bloomberg legacy of good government in City Hall. New Yorkers have recognized now for the better part of two decades that having a GOP endorsed Mayor is a necessary check and balance over the excesses of the special interest controlled City Council. Any candidate wanting to run on the Republican line for a Mayor or other citywide posts will ultimately need the support of the five chairmen, whose organizations will be critical when it comes to getting on the ballot and other grassroots functions of the campaign.

The Chairmen have met routinely with leading New York businessman and philanthropist John Catsimatidis and have also indicated an interest in talking with Ray Kelly, who, like Allon, is not currently a registered Republican. They discussed a wide variety of issues to make certain there is a synergy between their hopeful candidate and the Party base, and to make sure there will be a strong working relationship between the candidate and the Party leadership.

Recent news accounts have reported on efforts by some in the Republican Party, including former state GOP Chairman William Powers, to recruit Kelly. Meeting with the five chairmen will be a critical step for Kelly or any prospective candidate if he or she is serious about the possibility of running. Likewise, the Chairman have discussed the pros and cons of others who's names have been bandied about in the press as potential candidates from time to time including Diana Taylor, Dick Grasso, State Sen. Marty Golden, Eva Moskowitz and Adolfo Carrion.

Throughout this process the Chairmen have been encouraging billionaire John Catsimatidis, who was prepared to run in 2009 before Bloomberg extended term limits, to again step forward as the preferred candidate of the Party leadership. Catsimatidis has developed a strong relationship with the Chairs based not only on his consistent support for party building efforts and for local GOP candidates, but also for his friendship, advice and counsel to all the chairmen.Catsimatidis has indicated time and again that he believes having a vibrant two party system is integral to New York's future.

The chairmen hope to settle on their candidate before the fall, giving whoever the candidate is plenty of time to prepare a campaign against the eventual Democrat nominee, who is certain to be to the left of the average city voter. Another topic of discussion centered on whether there would be a special election for NYC Comptroller in the near future and the importance of restoring integrity and competence to that office.