The Ray Kelly Washington shuffle

The race for mayor of NYC doesn’t begin for two years, but the maneuvering has already begun in full force. The most interesting development so far is not about someone looking to get into the race, but a move to get a potential competitor out of the race.

For years, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has been talked about as a successor to Mayor Bloomberg. With crime low and Kelly’s personal poll numbers high, many think he would be a formidable challenger.

However, a job in DC may be sending a siren’s call to Kelly. Robert Mueller’s term as Director of the FBI ends in September, and Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing hard for Kelly to replace him.

The case for Kelly is good. Few in the country have his experience with both law enforcement and fighting terrorism. However, the case for getting him out of the race for mayor may be even more compelling to Schumer.

Schumer’s protégé, Congressmember Anthony Weiner, has long sought to succeed Bloomberg. Weiner ran in the Democratic Primary in 2005, losing narrowly to Freddy Ferrer. And he abandoned a run in 2009 after Bloomberg changed the law to run for a third term.

Bloomberg and Weiner have never gotten along. Schumer, on the other hand, has a somewhat better working relationship with the mayor, but surely would see great value in having someone close to him like Weiner as mayor. Kelly could potentially stand in the way of Schumer’s desire to see a dynamic duo develop between himself and the next mayor.

There is no way to tell what effect Kelly could have on the race. Or even which party’s nomination he would seek. Kelly could run as a democrat, having worked in the Democratic administrations of Mayor David Dinkins and President Bill Clinton.

He would then compete with other democratic hopefuls that might include Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, 2009 candidate William Thompson, any of a number of term-limited councilmembers, Weiner, and even possibly former Governor Elliott Spitzer.

Or Kelly could follow in Bloomberg’s footsteps and change his registration to Republican, hoping for an easier path to the general election. But there is no guarantee that Republicans will want Kelly.

Many Republican leaders are still longing to see billionaire John Catsimatidis run. Catsimatidis has maintained a close relationship with Republicans since expressing interest in running in 2009. And considering the amicable relationship between Kelly and Catsimatidis, it seems unlikely Kelly would run if Catsimatidis decides to.

So, unless John Catsimatidis hopes to keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner, it may be good fortune for more people than Kelly that he gets the job running the FBI.