Almost 13 million viewers tuned in to see Tom Selleck’s return to a network TV drama last Friday. The CBS show Blue Bloods features Selleck as the Irish American police commissioner of New York City.
Selleck, thus far, has received solid reviews for his commanding performance, though some folks noted that he has been seen wearing the blues of the NYPD uniform. This even though actual New York police commissioners -- such as the current Irish American one, Ray Kelly -- prefer snazzy suit jackets and ties.
This, of course, is only a small detail. Especially when there is a much bigger question to be asked when it comes to police commissioners who may or may not be seen on TV a lot in the near future.
More and more people are starting to wonder not about what Ray Kelly happens to be wearing, but where he will be wearing it.
The big question is this -- is Kelly going to try and become the first New York City mayor with an Irish name since Bill O’Dwyer back in the 1950s?
Just this week, The New York Observer, which fancies itself the ultimate insider chronicler of New York, ran a long profile of one of Kelly’s most trusted advisors, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Affairs Paul Browne.
Browne, as the article notes, “grew up in a small apartment in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx, one of four children of Irish immigrants.”
Browne, the article also notes, “is a former newspaper reporter who has become…a loyal friend and an adviser to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. If you compare their resumes side by side, you will find that for most of the past two decades, wherever Mr. Kelly has gone, Mr. Browne has sat in the seat right behind him, if not next to him.”
In short, it seems as if Kelly does decide to make a run for City Hall in 2013, he will have a fellow Irishman by his side.
However, even though one longtime friend of Kelly notes that the top cop is an “attractive candidate,” there are some obstacles.
“I don’t think New York City will ever be able to say thank you enough to Ray Kelly for the job he’s done,” says Tom Kelly (no relation), who, aside from being a friend of the commish’s, also happens to be a writer and co-producer on Blue Bloods.
Kelly adds that it is “literally unprecedented” for an Irish American top cop to have such high approval ratings not just across the five boroughs, but also in African American neighborhoods where tension between residents and law enforcement can run high.
However, Kelly also notes that the commish would have to raise a lot of money at a time when many millionaires and even billionaires (Mike Bloomberg anyone?) can fund their own campaigns. In addition, the minefield of mayoral politics may simply not interest Kelly.
There is also the matter of whether or not the commissioner would run as a Republican or Democrat. The latter field, as always, is very crowded.
This summer, New York Daily News political analyst Joshua Greenman sized the race up this way: “Look at the lineup of likely (mayoral) contenders: Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate; John Liu, the controller; Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker; Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president; Anthony Weiner, a U.S. representative. Some have talent…but they've got one glaring thing in common. All served in the City Council.”
Some feel this makes these possible candidates tired and compromised in the public eye. Kelly, on the other hand, “is an obvious heir to the three-term mayor and beloved as the driver of the most far-reaching transformation of city life in the last decade -- the continued, miraculous decline in crime, an especially impressive accomplishment given declining personnel and the ongoing terror threat. Plus, the guy seems to have innate charm.”
There is always the private sector where Kelly could make plenty of money. Some have said he might go to Washington to run the FBI.
There is, of course, one other option. Kelly, who is 70 years old, could sit back and let someone else take over City Hall, and wait to be offered the job of top cop yet again.
“They would be a half-wit not to offer him the job,” Tom Kelly concluded.
(Contact Sidewalks at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/tomdeignan)