Quinn Zooms in on Coveted Latino Vote

Christine Quinn campaigns in Washington Heights with Latino supporters including Guillermo Linares (back to camera) and Zenaida Mendez (second from right). (Photo by Carla Astudillo)

Christine Quinn campaigns in Washington Heights Sunday with Latino supporters including Guillermo Linares (back to camera) and Zenaida Mendez (in blue shirt). (Photo by Carla Astudillo)

While Bill Thompson visited nine black churches on Sunday and Bill de Blasio attended services with Harry Belafonte at an African-American congregation in Brooklyn, Christine Quinn focused her attention on another coveted segment of the electorate that could give her a desperately needed boost on Tuesday: Latinos.

The City Council speaker rode in a flat bed truck through Washington Heights with salsa music blasting from speakers. She was surrounded by Latino supporters like Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera, former Assemblyman Guillermo Linares and Zenaida Méndez, president of the National Organization for Women-NYS.

Latinos account for 28.6 percent of New Yorkers and are expected to make up anywhere from 15 to 22 percent of voters in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.

Despite Quinn’s efforts to connect with Latino voters in the homestretch of the campaign, two polls released Monday showed her support thinning dramatically among Hispanics.

A new NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll found 29 percent of Latinos who are likely to vote in the primary support de Blasio, the public advocate, followed by 25 percent who are with Quinn and 24 percent with Thompson, the former city comptroller. Anthony Weiner follows in a distant fourth spot with 9 percent, followed by Erick Salgado (4 percent) and John Liu (3 percent).

Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll found Quinn trailing even more, with de Blasio commanding 44 percent of Latino likely voters, Thompson 26 percent and Quinn just 14 percent.

Earlier polls had showed that even as Quinn, who was once the clear frontrunner lost ground to de Blasio, she was still leading among Hispanic voters. An August 16 NBC 4/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll had her winning 27 percent of Latino voters, almost twice as much as the next candidate.

Christine Quinn campaigns Latino style on top of a loud flatbed truck in Washington Heights on Sunday. (Photo by Carla Astudillo)

Christine Quinn campaigns Latino style on top of a loud flatbed truck in Washington Heights on Sunday. (Photo by Carla Astudillo)

Angelo Falcón, founder of Institute for Puerto Rican policy, believes that Quinn’s earlier Latino lead may have been more name recognition than anything else. Once the other candidates began to put out their ads and their stance on issues became known, Latinos started to gravitate toward the other candidates as well.

However, what may have hurt her the most is the perception that her administration would be an extension of Michael Bloomberg, he said. This is especially true of stop-and-frisk, which she says she disagrees with but also wants to keep Ray Kelly, its biggest proponent, as NYPD commissioner.

Because de Blasio and Thompson are running as the anti-Bloomberg candidates, they are more appealing to Latino voters, said Falcón.

“She had a shot at [the Latino vote], but I don’t think she understood that the tie to Bloomberg would end up hurting her,” he said. “It was a miscalculation on her part.”

Last week, Quinn was busy campaigning in Latino enclaves across the city no doubt hoping to stop the tide. Her schedule was packed with Latino-targeted events — more than any other of the mayoral candidates.

On September 5 alone, Quinn visited Hispanic senior centers in the Bronx accompanied by Councilwomen Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Annabel Palma and State Sen. Gustavo Rivera. She unveiled plans to help non-English speaking small business owners, held a Latino town hall meeting and campaigned in Corona, Queens with Assemblyman Francisco Moya.

A few days earlier she released her second Spanish ad called “Es Unánime” (“It’s Unanimous”),  touting many of her endorsements from Latino leaders.

Political pundits originally thought Quinn and Thompson, who has the support of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and State Senator Adriano Espaillat would fight it out for the Latino vote, but in an election season that has been all but predictable that theory seems to no longer hold. Thompson also picked up the endorsement of El Diario-La Prensa, the city’s largest and oldest Spanish-language daily.

New Yorker Omar De Los Angeles, 25, met Quinn on September 6 while he was out shopping at 181st and St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights.

He was surprised to see her there since he had never seen any of the other mayoral candidates campaigning in the neighborhood. Quinn passed him a flyer, and he took a picture with her.

“Unlike some other big-time politicians, she’s just more connected with people,” he said. “Like she’s just not afraid to be out there.”

Still, De Los Angeles remains unconvinced and will probably vote for de Blasio on Tuesday, he said.

“I just feel like his policies, like on housing, are just better for the Hispanic community than hers.”


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