For Ms. Quinn, political calculations can be the toughest part. She's a former tenant activist with a progressive past, but her alliance with the mayor raises questions about what her path to victory might be in 2013.
She enjoys support from the business community, which is largely responsible for the $3.2 million in campaign cash she has collected in the past four years. Mr. Bloomberg is certainly a fan—a Democratic consultant said (disdainfully) that the mayor's team thinks of the speaker as staff—but as his popularity sags, his imprimatur could become a hindrance.
Still, the mayor can help Ms. Quinn behind the scenes. A Democratic insider said that former Bloomberg campaign manager Bradley Tusk, a consultant for Walmart, is telling some clients to get on board with Ms. Quinn. (Mr. Tusk said only that he's setting up meetings for his education reform clients with Ms. Quinn.)
The speaker has been moving to cast herself as independent of Mr. Bloomberg. But even if she bucks her business supporters by opposing Walmart's attempts to open a city store and backing living wage and paid sick days, insiders said, the most crucial labor unions and the Working Families Party would still support Public Advocate Bill de Blasio or Comptroller John Liu for mayor, should either one run.
Instead, campaign experts said, Ms. Quinn must assemble a patchwork of constituencies: small business, gays and lesbians, women, building trades, tenant activists and African-Americans. Smoothing Walmart's arrival would help her with the building trades and some black voters, who want the jobs the retailer would bring.
In other words, she has to tweed.