(Article changed on August 26, 2013 at 17:29)
By Robert Wilbur and Martha Rosenberg
Reports of Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's sexting recidivism have vaulted Democrat Christine C. Quinn into the front-runner position. Quinn, currently speaker of the New York City Council, is running against Weiner, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former New York City comptroller William C Thompson Jr. and others in the September 10 Democratic primary. But even though Quinn is an out lesbian and has significant feminist and LGBT support, especially as the only woman Democratic candidate in a sea of male sex scandals, there could be a dark horse in the primary known as New York City's carriage horses.
Manhattan's carriage horses, immortalized by Sex in the City episodes, may charm tourists but they do not lead charmed lives. The 2011 death of carriage horse, Charlie, as he pulled a carriage, is only one disturbing event say opponents. In 2006, a carriage horse named "Smoothie" was euthanized after an accident says Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends Of Animals. Many incidents of animals collapsing and dying go unrecorded, especially if they occur out of public sight in the stables, she says.
Quinn, like Mayor Bloomberg, affirms the industry as a valuable source of jobs but critics say the largely foreign carriage drivers are not even legal American workers and lack basic empathy toward their equine charges. The issue has proved a wedge between Quinn and her natural constituencies, spawning web sites like Queers Against Quinn, Christine Quinn Sold Out and Anybody But Quinn. One site, Quinn Hates Animals, itemizes other anti-animal stances Quinn has allegedly adopted such as opposing humane education in public schools and allowing circus animal abuse.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem calls the carriage horse issue a "sticking point" in her support of Quinn because Steinem is also an animal advocate.
Anti-establishment candidate Bill de Blasio has promised to make banning the "inhumane" carriage rides one of his first Mayoral acts if elected.