Life After Duane

Four Candidates Vie for 'the Gay Seat'

While he is eager to discuss his tenure at the Taxi and Limousine Commission— citing his threat of fining cabbies who fail to pick up blacks and his flat fare to the airports as evidence of populist leanings— Lynn doesn't mention the suit against him from one cabbie who had his license pulled after he got into a dispute with Lynn's lover. Nor does he talk about his career as an attorney, which included associations with drug dealers that earned Lynn the sobriquet "crack lawyer" from the late columnist Mike MacAlary.

Yet his sometimes wacky independence is also something rare in city politics. Lynn's awarding of a lucrative street-furniture contract, in a way that impeded the flow of patronage, may have led to his removal from the Department of Transportation. ("No comment," he says when asked about that theory.) And Lynn's endorsers range from Ed Koch to Brooklyn councilmember Una Clarke. Still, his conservative streak is reflected in the fact that his only supporter in the Manhattan council delegation is a Republican, Andrew Eristoff. And Lynn's closest ally in gay politics is the bane of Downtown activists, Antonio Pagan.

"This is not Pagan west," Lynn proclaims. "I'm a liberal Democrat and I always have been." In a typical gesture of bipartisanship Lynn-style, he has been distributing one flyer touting his ability to "work with both parties" and another promoting his ties to Robert Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Bella Abzug. Abzug's daughter, Liz, is up in arms about this leaflet, but then, she is a Lees supporter, and in this race the personal is exquisitely political. The fact that Manzano won't discuss his sexuality has led to some unsavory rumors, as well as raising questions about whether it's important for the district to be represented by an out-and-proud lesbian or gay man. Manzano says his sexuality is no more relevent than his ethnicity, but he has no qualms about mentioning his Colombian roots.

The gang that couldn't vote straight: Christine Quinn (left) and Aubrey Lees, two candidates for City Council from District 3
Robin Holland
The gang that couldn't vote straight: Christine Quinn (left) and Aubrey Lees, two candidates for City Council from District 3

In the end, the winner of this special election (in which only about 10 percent of the district is expected to vote) will probably be the candidate with the most aggressive institutional support. That has to be Quinn, whose backers include the labor union UNITE, as well as two of the city's most prominent gay elected officials, Deborah Glick and Margarita Lopez.

Then there's Duane himself, who has groomed Quinn since she was his chief of staff. Though it isn't mentioned in anyone's flyers, Duane's impact on the district is the hottest issue in this race, with some progs insisting he is building a gay machine whose ultimate beneficiary will be likely mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi. But power is fleeting in the 3rd District, where whoever is elected will have to run again for a full term— no doubt against some of the same opponents— in just seven months.

The pettiness of gay politics is another sign that it is not so different from any politics. Which leaves Big Cuppies asking the same question all minorities in this city do: with so much "power," how come so little gets done?

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