Christine Quinn delivering her
concession speech on Tuesday night (Credit: Daily News)

Christine Quinn’s third place finish in the New York mayoral race is a devastating blow for a candidate who was 15 points ahead just a few months ago.

Back then she seemed to have it all, a powerful job as City Council President, a bold and brassy New Yawk personality and widely favorable press.

Then it all went wrong.

The post mortem on her campaign is likely to focus on whether Quinn could have prevented her huge lead slipping away or was she a victim of a polarized electorate who saw her as too close to Mayor Bloomberg.

Quinn realized too late that fatigue with Bloomberg was the overarching issue of the campaign. She had run as his sidekick and successor.

Ironically, if Quinn had run against Bloomberg four years ago or opposed him on term limits she would likely be the next mayor today. There was clear fatigue among New Yorkers after 12 years of Bloomberg and they wanted a fresh face.

Quinn had run on competency, and her partnership with Bloomberg. The electorate had had enough of the mayor however and still deeply resented his power grab third term when he overturned term limits.

There was a very different mood a few months back as the race commenced. The Irish American seemed certain to be the city’s first gay mayor and was hugely popular in the Irish American community where she was very well known.

In retrospect she was in front way too early and for too long - see Hillary Clinton in 2008 for the presidential nomination.

She was simply a sitting duck and when the New York Times unleashed a hard hitting front page expose accusing her of having an explosive temper and being very hard on her staff it was the beginning of the end.

Following that Quinn released her autobiography that her campaign had looked  on as a pivotal event to get her better known on her own terms.

The book however, disappeared without trace. Then the “stop and frisk” issue began to dominate and Quinn’s stance broadly in support of Mayor Bloomberg won her no friends among the liberal electorate.

Getting defined by your opponent is usually a fatal error in politics and Quinn, portrayed widely as Bloomberg’s today, is exhibit A.

Bill De Blasio was helped by Anthony Weiner’s implosion as voters sought out an alternative. Timing is everything and he had smart advisors who helped position him to the left of every other candidate.

His victory if he avoids a run off will give Republicans some hope that Joe Lhota can paint him as too far left. But New York is an increasingly minority city  and more Democratic  by the day.

Quinn and many in the Irish American community will be profoundly disappointed with her collapse  after looking like a winner for so long.

Irish hopes of an Irish American mayor have been dashed and it is hard to see any future now for Christine Quinn after this shattering defeat.

Politics is indeed a cruel sport.