City Hall News just posted a story on its web site looking into a rumor that's been circulating for months: that consultants linked to City Councilmember Alan Gerson are actually behind rival PJ Kim's candidacy. The article points out there's absolutely no proof suggesting the rumor is true, yet it's becoming clear who may have started it. City Hall News reporter Chris Bragg writes:
Two people who have heard the rumor say it was first
broached to them by Ray Cline, an operative for the Progressive Strategies
Group, who works for the Gerson campaign. One willing to go on the record was
Michael Oliva, a political consultant not involved with the Council District 1
race. At one of Kim’s first public appearance as a candidate, a Village Reform
Independent Democrats candidate night, Cline bragged that he was the one who
recruited Kim to run, according to Oliva, who spoke with Cline at the forum.
Bragg reports Cline was "vague" about whether he spread the rumor but denied recruiting Kim:
"Some people in this business think I’m smarter than I am,”
Cline said. “I’m willing to let them think that.” What Cline did readily admit was that he had approached a
Chinese-American candidate who had “run against Chin before” about running this
year, with Cline’s express purpose to steal some of the Chinatown vote from
Chin. Cline declined to say who the candidate was, however, citing a need to
keep the conversation private. Cline said the unnamed candidate refused his
Gerson confirmed that some advisers wanted to recruit a Chinese candidate but he dismissed the idea:
“Several people have suggested that, and it’s one that’s not
a totally original idea. It’s not a creative suggestion to me,” Gerson said.
“And I totally unequivocally rejected that.” As for the rumor about Kim, Gerson said he was unaware of
any sort of smear campaign launched by his political advisor, though he said he
would look into the matter. “I’m going to have a conversation later this evening with
Ray Cline,” Gerson said.
The story adds that Kim is now likely to hurt Gerson more than Chin. She enjoys widespread support in Chinatown, while Kim (who's Korean) does not have a history in the neighborhood.