Since Alec Baldwin suggested, way back in January, that he would like to run for public office, people have been trying to read the tea leaves about a possible mayoral run in New York City. Those symbols seemed to get a whole lot clearer when a New York Times story on Monday suggested that the actor would prepare a mayoral bid after his contract with 30 Rock ends next April. But while the story focused heavily on the possibility of a Baldwin run, it included little concrete evidence that he would join the race. Writer Sarah Maslin Nir reported that Baldwin "said that he would probably sit out in 2013 but run in a later election." But Baldwin himself on Wednesday seemed to challenge the conclusion that he was preparing a run. "Ah, there's nothing like a young reporter yearning for truth," he wrote in a tweet directed at Nir and linking to the story.
But if there's no hard evidence of Baldwin's mayoral inclinations, there's plenty of circumstantial evidence, both in the Times story and elsewhere. Baldwin told Nir he was talking with two universities about enrolling in a master's program after his 30 Rock stint "to help me better understand what the fiscal imperatives of that job are." He name-checked some New York institutions he wanted to understand better. "What’s the reality of the city unions, of contracts, agreements, teachers, infrastructure, decentralizing, everything? And utilities, Con Ed, the M.T.A. — how does it all work?" Then of course there was The Daily's report in June that a friend of Baldwin's had suggested the actor was thinking about running after Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal set his political career back. "Hey, maybe this changes the race. The dynamics have shifted," Baldwin reportedly told his friend. Not a confirmation, certainly, but another suggestion.
Baldwin has been reticent on his own intentions, but he's been vocal on his potential rivals. He hit out at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in Wednesday's article, saying her vote to extend Michael Bloomberg's term limit "absolutely, positively disqualifies her." He said he supported Weiner, a Democrat who had been the favorite candidate, but he said the former congressman's political career was too damaged by the recent Twitter photo scandal.
But should he decide to run, even in 2013, Baldwin may yet face real political competition. A Daily Beast poll from back in June, at the height of the sexting scandal, found 71 percent of respondents hadn't changed their opinions of Weiner. Of course, that was before his own admission that he had sent out revealing photos of himself, and before his wife, Huma, turned out to be pregnant. More recently, a New York 1 / Marist Poll found city voters supportive of Quinn, dismissive of Weiner, and split on Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Then, of course, there's Kelsey Grammer. The Repulican star of Frasier suggested to the New York Post in late July that he was considering a mayoral run. The idea of two high-profile actors on either end of the ticket is fun. Though as Baldwin pointed out about himself in Wednesday's story, "what I do for a living has provided people with an almost bottomless container of video clips of me doing the most asinine things." Anybody who has seen Down Periscope knows that holds true for Grammer as well.