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Sources: NYPD Commissioner Kelly Open To Idea Of Running As Republican For Mayor

Koch: I'd Immediately Throw My Support Behind Him; Pundits Split On The Idea
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (file / credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (file / credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was a stunning development Monday in the New York City mayor’s race. Republican leaders have been trying to convince top cop Ray Kelly to seek the city’s top job — and sources told CBS 2 he’s thinking about it.

Kelly may be looking to “trade up” — trading in the title of “NYPD Commissioner” for the loftier salutation of “Mr. Mayor.” Top GOP sources told political reporter Marcia Kramer they have been urging Kelly to be their candidate for mayor, and they said he’s open to the idea.

Asked about it on a radio show on Monday, Kelly was coy.

“I’m fully engaged in the job I have now. I love it is a full-time undertaking, but I certainly appreciate those comments. It’s obviously flattering,” Kelly said.

Sources said that that there has been a ground swell of support for a Kelly candidacy and that privately Kelly hasn’t shut the door.

Former mayor Ed Koch is so high on a Kelly candidacy that he said he’d switch his support from Council Speaker Christine Quinn to Kelly if he runs.

“I believe Ray Kelly is closer to the image of myself in changing the philosophy of New York City and making it more friendly to business to come here and provide jobs,” Koch said.

State Sen. Martin Golden and supermarket magnate John Catsimatides are also thinking of seeking the Republican mayoral nomination. Koch said he would choose Kelly over the current Democratic field.

“I worry about whether we’re going to move to the radical left,” Koch said. “I do believe that most of the Democratic candidates would backslide on a number of issues that would make me worry about the future of the City of New York.”

Brooklyn Republican leader Craig Eaton said he likes the idea, too

“He’s got great name recognition. He’s been a stellar police commissioner during his tenure and I think he’d make a great candidate,” Eaton said.

By and large, those on the streets of New York City seem supportive of the idea of Kelly succeeding Michael Bloomberg.

“He knows how to run the city so why not?” one person said.

“Yes, definitely,” another person said.

“I think he’s actually the single best choice New Yorkers will have,” added Mario Novis of Sheepshead Bay.

To run as a Republican, Kelly has to register in the party by October or get the support of three of the five county chairmen.

WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb On The Story

But Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb that while Kelly would be a formidable candidate for mayor if he were to run, history shows GOP candidates only win when there’s a crisis.

For example, Bloomberg was elected in the wake of 9/11.

Sheinkopf also told Lamb that being a candidate for mayor is a lot different from being police commissioner.

“A police commissioner can tell people what to do. A candidate for mayor has got to put up with a lot of other things that this police commissioner has never experienced. So, is it likely that he’ll run for mayor? probably not,” Sheinkopf told Lamb.

Baruch College professor Doug Muzio told Lamb that, were Kelly to run, he would be a big factor in the race.

“Ray Kelly’s approval numbers are astronomical,” Muzio said.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December asked participants who they would “most like to see elected mayor in 2013,” and Kelly headed the list with 23 percent.

Reminded how popular Kelly is in the polls, Sheinkopf said it’s one thing to be popular as police commissioner and another thing to face all the questions a mayoral candidate must answer.

“Kelly has always said that being mayor or running for mayor wasn’t in his DNA. Ray Kelly is a cop. Does he really want to subject himself to the slings and arrows?” Muzio added.

Do you think Ray Kelly would make a good mayor? Sound off in the comments section below!