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Quinn Wins Endorsement From Home Democratic Club in Chelsea

By Mathew Katz | March 21, 2013 11:37pm | Updated on March 21, 2013 11:39pm

CHELSEA — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn overwhelmingly won the endorsement of her home Democratic club on Thursday night, despite vocal opposition from a handful of members.

Quinn won 98 of 116 ballots cast at the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club's mayoral endorsement vote. The next runner up, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, got only 12 votes.

Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, CRDC's sister club, also voted overwhelmingly in favor of endorsing Quinn at the meeting. Members of both clubs praised Quinn as a pragmatic, yet progressive voice in the City Council.

Throughout the night, members and non-members got up to speak either in support of or against Quinn, who got her political start at the club. Only one person offered an alternative — de Blasio — effectively turning the vote into a referendum on Quinn.

"It appears to me that you're either for Chris or against Chris," said Lisa Daglian, one of several new members from Hell's Kitchen who spoke in favor of Quinn.

"None of the other candidates' names have really been mentioned."

Those who did speak out against Quinn accused her of compromising her progressive values. The club saw a huge increase in membership during this election cycle, with many signing up purely to oppose Quinn.

One Quinn opponent, who joined the club late last year asked not to be identified, admitted after the vote that the campaign against her was never really organized.

"We never gelled around another candidate," the opponent said. "With every person who stood up to talk about her, I knew we were going to lose."

Karen Smith, another Quinn opponent, said, "I think that it's important that we give her a message that it's not okay to turn [to the political right] as much as she's turned."

Others slammed Quinn for helping Mayor Michael Bloomberg overturn term limits.

"If this is a progressive reform club, they should not endorse Christine Quinn," said Meryl Stein, a lapsed CRDC member.

"I believe this club needs to be what it used to be — and she would be another Bloomberg."

But Quinn also won strong support from neighborhood stalwarts, including former State Senator Tom Duane, whose defense of Quinn's character drew a long applause.

"I met Chris Quinn when she was an organizer of the Housing Justice Campaign," Duane said.

"That Chris Quinn is the very same Chris Quinn today as she was when I met her — her core has not changed at all."

Quinn herself was unable to make it to the vote, as another forum uptown ran late. Instead, she spoke and took questions via a cell phone held up to a microphone by Community Board 4 Chairman Corey Johnson.

"I don't know exactly who's in this room, but I can tell you with the people in this room tonight, we've gotten so much done for this neighborhood," Quinn said, discussing her record of passing pro-tenant laws in the City Council.

Only one other major Democratic candidate came to the forum: Comptroller John Liu, who arrived just as the vote was tallied and received only two votes. Liu shrugged off the loss, taking member questions and vowing to work to win the club's support as the primary campaign continued.

"I will be back here many times to fight for your support on September 10th," he said.