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Mayoral candidates: The race is still on

By Jason Fink

Two top contenders for mayor next year confirmed today that they will push ahead despite the radically altered political landscape created by Mayor Michael Bloomberg winning the right to run for a third term.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn) and city Comptroller William Thompson both said they plan to stay in the race. The two would face off in a Democratic primary.

A potential third Democratic candidate, Councilman Tony Avella (D-Flushing), could not be reached for comment today.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who once considered running for Bloomberg’s job, will instead seek re-election to her council seat, her office said.Quinn, a Bloomberg ally, led the fight to change the term limits for citywide office holders to three four-year terms from two, a move that overturned two public referendums.

Meanwhile, the fight over term limits is moving to its newest battleground: The courts.

Two lawsuits were filed last week - one in federal court and one in state court - seeking to force a referendum. Another suit will likely be filed this week, said Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney who is running for public advocate. He said he believes that it was unconstitutional for the City Council to agree to extend term limits.

“It’s an open legal question,” Siegel said today. “You can’t let what happened go unchallenged.”

That suit would likely be merged with one filed Wednesday by 10 public school teachers who charge that overturning the law without a referendum violates voters’ civil rights. Two council members filed a separate suit last week claiming the council had a conflict of interest in voting for something that so directly affects them.

A Bloomberg spokesman, Stu Loeser, said the mayor has not begun a re-election campaign but that it is his “intention” to run for a third term.

“We obviously believe the council had a right to pass this bill and the lawsuits will work their way through the courts,” Loeser said.

Bloomberg, a billionaire who changed his political affiliation to Republican from Democrat seven years ago and is now an independent, will not participate in the public financing system, according to his office.

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