Could Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly be considering a dramatic late entry into the mayoral race? With 19 days to go before the campaign finance certification deadline, the chatter that the 71-year-old commissioner will run to replace Mayor Bloomberg reached a renewed crescendo yesterday, insiders tell the Voice.
Insiders tells us that though Kelly has yet to form a campaign apparatus, he has been in serious talks with wealthy backers about helping him raise money for a potential run. Kelly has flirted with a run in the past, He came very close to running in 2008, before Mayor Bloomberg secured himself a third term.
Though the field is already crowded with at least seven Democratic candidates and three Republican candidates, Kelly is said to believe that his message and his record of running the largest police agency in the country and keeping crime down while addressing terror concerns is more resonant with voters than what the other candidates have been saying.
Whether that’s true or not will be seen, but it’s clear that no clear frontrunner has emerged as of yet, and the messages of those in the race have been muddied by sheer numbers. Even the early leader Christine Quinn has fallen into the pack, dogged by the council nonprofit scandal and lingering anger over her support for Bloomberg’s third term.
A signal of the candidates’ desperation to be noticed came with Quinn disclosing her past troubles with alcohol and bulimia, which got mixed reviews, and Bill de Blasio’s wife, a former lesbian, talking candidly about their relationship.
As all candidates must, Kelly would have to register with the Campaign Finance Board, and then file a request for public matching funds by June 10 to even have the chance to run.
If he runs, Kelly would face sharp criticism over the NYPD’s stop and frisk campaign, which has been the subject of a high profile federal trial for the past eight weeks. And there have been allegations of downgrading of crime stats that he has yet to fully deal with.
But those two items would be overshadowed by the 35 percent overall reduction in crime in his tenure, historic lows in murder, his oft-stated record of foiled terror attacks, and the fact he is the longest serving police commissioner in NYPD history.
Kelly also has a built-in media platform and a high-profile name, giving him an advantage the other candidates don’t have.
A clear signal of a run will be if Kelly speaks at the Christian Cultural Center, the powerhouse Brooklyn church run by the politically influential pastor A.R. Bernard, one insider said. As police commissioner, Kelly has always been careful to gather support from black churches.
We reached out to Kelly’s spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, late last evening, and did not receive a response.