Why Scott Stringer’s 2013 mayoral campaign ended before 2013

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Stringer. (Friends of the Highline, via flickr)
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There's an unobstructed view of City Hall from the Manhattan borough president's office at 1 Centre Street. But for Scott Stringer, the mayor's office was out of reach.

On Sunday, Stringer is expected to announce formally that he is abandoning his all-but-announced campaign for mayor and running instead for New York City comptroller.

Stringer is bright and well-qualified, with impeccable liberal credentials, a solid donor base and even, improbably, a stable of celebrity supporters.

But this year, as became clear to him, that wasn't enough.

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The political demise of former congressman Anthony Weiner, a progressive outer-borough Jew, and the fund-raising scandal surrounding New York City Comptroller John Liu, seemingly knocked out two well-funded formidable rivals.

But Stringer, overshadowed as the Manhattan candidate by Bloomberg ally and relative establishment favorite Christine Quinn, wasn't able to capitalize. 

In part, it's a function of his office, which provides a public platform but few actual powers to its occupants. (Just ask Marty Markowitz.)

But it's also just the way the field was set up.

Stringer was the only Jewish candidate, once Weiner disappeared. But that didn't guarantee him much.

Two other mayoral candidates have clearly defined prospective bases: Former city comptroller Bill Thompson drew a large amount of support from African-American and Hispanic voters four years ago and is expected to do so again. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio of Brooklyn is the outer-borough white candidate who has strong union ties but he's also hoping to attract some black support, on the strength of his African-American wife and family and his ties to the Clintons. 

And then, right in Stringer's backyard, there's Quinn.

Since 2006, Quinn has been the speaker of the New York City Council, the second highest ranking Democrat in the city. She's well-known and tacitly backed, if only as the best of the plausible mayoral options, by the mayor and the Bloomberg-adoring business establishment. Quinn will likely get more slack from many progressives for her Bloomberg ties than she otherwise would, on the basis of her background as a gay-rights activist, and her status as the potential first female or openly gay mayor of New York.

Stringer had criticized her from time to time for not providing a strong enough check against the mayor,. and from the perspective of the Democratic primary electorate, he may have had a good point. But it wasn't an argument that was going to get him where he needed to go.