Quinn, continuing her NYPD balancing act, will attend a Fifth Avenue protest

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Kelly and Quinn. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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Christine Quinn, the only major Democratic mayoral candidate to have skipped a press conference announcing plans for march along Fifth Avenue to "end" stop-and-frisk, will attend the June 17 event, according to a source with direct knowledge of the Council speaker's plan.

It's another illustration of Quinn's efforts to navigate between two plainly opposing sides on the issue without quite casting her lot with either of them.

Quinn has a nomination to win, meaning she can only allow so much daylight to open up between her and the other candidates on substantive issues that could be important to like Democratic primary voters.

On the other hand, Quinn enjoys a much closer relationship with the Bloomberg administration than any other candidate does, and is counting on winning at least tacit support from the mayor and his establishment allies as the continuity candidate.

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This week, the mayor stopped just short of formally endorsing her among the existing candidates, telling reporters that Quinn would be "a very good mayor."

This has made things awkward at times for the speaker, as she tries to avoid saying or doing anything that could be used against her by anyone next year.

So, for example, Quinn applauded a judge's decision to allow a class-action lawsuit against Ray Kelly's police department challenging the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk, while also sayingthe next mayor would be "lucky" to have Kelly as her or his police commissioner.

And while she's now planning to attend the march on Fifth Avenue, which will undoubtedly feature lots of enthusiastically vented anti-Bloomberg sentiment, she's going to have to find a way to square the decision with the impossible-to-keep precedent she set recently by abruptly walking out of a press conference at City Hall when someone in the crowd referred to the mayor as "pharaoh Bloomberg".

The anti stop-and-frisk event she skipped this week was a big one, in a mayoral-primary context: attendees included the Rev. Al Sharpton, N.A.A.C.P. leader Ben Jealous, president of the United Federation of Teachers Michael Mulgrew and president George Gresham of the powerful healthcare workers union 1199SEIU.  Quinn's competitors—Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Comptroller John Liu, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson—were all there.

At the event, Gresham also signaled his displeasure with Quinn's level of outspokenness on the issue.

"Don't think we can ever support anyone that wants to be int he leadership of New York City if they are not speaking out against this policy of stop-and-frisk," he said.

Later, when I asked what he thought of Quinn's advocacy of stop-and-frisk, Gresham said, "This is an issue that is deeply important to our community and I would just say that it could be better at this point."

Quinn, who has the same political consultant as 1199, is apparently listening.