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Christine Quinn Trades Barbs With Bill de Blasio's Wife on 'Women's Issues'

By Colby Hamilton | August 21, 2013 11:55am | Updated on August 21, 2013 12:10pm
 Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn (L) sparred with rival Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, on Wednesday.
Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn (L) sparred with rival Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, on Wednesday.
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Getty Images/Spencer Platt & Flickr/Bill de Blasio 2009

NEW YORK CITY — The already contentious mayor's race took an even nastier turn Wednesday when City Council Speaker Christine Quinn accused opponent Bill de Blasio's wife of going "over the line" by questioning Quinn's trustworthiness because she's never had children.

Quinn sent out a scathing email Wednesday morning saying she and her wife Kim Catullo took "great personal offense" at comments from de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, who sparked the feud with her comments in Maureen Dowd's New York Times column.

“She’s not accessible,” McCray said of Quinn in Wednesday's column. “She’s not the kind of person I feel I can go up to and talk to about issues like taking care of children at a young age and paid sick leave.”

Quinn, the first openly gay council speaker who last year married longtime partner Catullo, doesn't have children and has suggested she has no intention of having them.

McCray, who wrote an article for Essence magazine in 1979 entitled “I Am a Lesbian” where she discussed her radical feminist political beliefs, has made her biography — and choice to marry a man and start a family — a key part of her husband’s campaign strategy.

Quinn fired out a blistering email to the media in which she interpreted the comments as meaning she couldn't be trusted because she was not a mother — which de Blasio's camp said was a misrepresentation of what McCray actually said.

Quinn said she expected that kind of rhetoric from her male counterparts, but not from another woman.

“There are women all across the City who don’t have children for any number of reasons, whether they simply can’t, choose not to, or circumstances don’t afford them the possibility,” Quinn said in a statement.

“I have taken a number of shots in this race from the men running against me, and I accept that as par for the course in a political campaign. But to criticize me as not understanding what young families go through because I might not have children is over the line and I take great personal offense to the comment, as does my wife.”

She continued: “As young teenage girls, both my wife and I lost our mothers and the decision to have children is a deep and personal one that we should be afforded the opportunity to make, without aspersion.”

A de Blasio spokesman said McCray was "misquoted" by the Times, which issued a correction on its website Wednesday.

"Her actual comments were about Speaker Quinn’s unwillingness to listen to the people on education, and paid sick leave, and any suggestion otherwise is disingenuous and absurd," campaign manager Bill Hyers said.

The full transcript of McCray's comments were released by the de Blasio campaign.

Asked what she thought the problem was with Quinn's relationship with women voters, McCray responded, "Well I am a woman, and she is not speaking to the issues I care about and I think a lot of women feel the same way."

"I don’t see her speaking to the concerns of women who have to take care of children at a young age or send them to school and after school, paid sick days, workplace, she is not speaking to any of those issues," McCray added.

"What can I say? And she is not accessible, she is not the kind of person that I feel that you can go up and talk to and have a conversation with about those things, and I suspect that other women feel the same thing I’m feeling."

Quinn's office said they stood by their statement despite the amended quote by McCray, adding that "the essence of Ms. McCray's quote is the same. The updated Maureen Dowd column affirms the fact that the de Blasio campaign made it quite clear they believe that Christine Quinn is not the 'kind of person who you can talk to and go up to and have a conversation [with] about those things…' directly referencing 'tak[ing] care of children at a young age.'"

A recorded excerpt of McCray's interview, provided by the de Blasio campaign, is available HERE: