Quinn's Not-So-Silent Partner
Quinn's Not-So-Silent Partner
Attorney Kim Catullo, Married to Quinn, Opens Up a Bit and Vows to Campaign
Kim Catullo broke her customary silence Sunday and vowed to campaign for her wife, saying Christine Quinn's determination to become New York City's first openly gay mayor could have widespread social impact.
"As a person who struggled with coming out and a person who has gotten to levels in a profession where a lot of women don't get, it will change lives for young girls, it will change lives for LGBT people, and for New Yorkers, it will say a lot about the amazing place we live," Ms. Catullo said.
Ms. Catullo covered a range of topics in a 30-minute conversation with a reporter: the idea of having children with Ms. Quinn; the political challenges her wife faced in overruling New York City's term-limits rule; and the prospect of moving into Gracie Mansion.
Ms. Quinn is in a close fight for the Democratic nomination with Bill de Blasio, whose modern family has played a starring role in his candidacy. Mr. de Blasio is married to an African-American woman, and the couple's children have made prominent appearances, with Mr. de Blasio's son narrating a television commercial.
"I think Kim has always been reluctant to get into the public spotlight, but I think it's getting close to the wire," said George Arzt, a political consultant in the city and former press secretary to former Mayor Ed Koch. "It's a very close race and Chris needs the help, and Kim could be a real plus."
Until Sunday, Ms. Catullo, 46 years old, has made few appearances.
"We always knew she would become a little more visible as we got closer to the home stretch," Ms. Quinn said. "…Kim is shy. This is certainly not her area she would prefer to be in. I'm just incredibly lucky. She's the most supportive person in the world."
The couple, who married last year, have been together almost 13 years. Ms. Catullo was born in Newark, N.J., and has seen more than 50 Bruce Springsteen concerts. The couple have a beach house along the Jersey Shore, and Ms. Catullo's law firm has its headquartered in New Jersey, though she works in New York.
Ms. Catullo said she quickly bonded with Ms. Quinn after learning they had both lost their mothers at young ages and were raised by working fathers. That experience has shaped many aspects of their relationship, Ms. Catullo said, including the discussion about having children.
"For us, it's always been a conversation with that backdrop of knowing you want to be there for that child because you've experienced the loss and the hole in the heart that can create. For us, it's always been about can we focus on that child at the right time? For a variety of reasons, mostly work-related, we kept putting it off. We met in our mid-30s. The timing just hasn't been right so far," Ms. Catullo said.
During this campaign cycle, Ms. Catullo said she often had privately counseled her wife to "keep the chatter out of her head and to be herself." Ms. Catullo said stories in the press about her wife's temper weren't true, and that many people didn't understand how deeply Ms. Quinn cares. Ms. Catullo said her wife often came home talking about a troubled voter she had met in the Bronx or a complex issue she would like to solve. "The fact people call her tough, do you expect your mayor to be anything but tough?" she said. "Do you want a weak mayor? Do you think a woman would have gotten to the position she's gotten to already if she was weak? I just don't understand that."
Ms. Catullo declined to answer if the couple would move into Gracie Mansion if Ms. Quinn were elected. She also wouldn't say whether she ever voted for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "I will say very emphatically I am a Democrat. I just never tell anyone who I vote for. I will say emphatically I am a Democrat."
Ms. Catullo said she deeply cared about homelessness, literacy and the city's animal shelters. The city's homeless policies aren't working, she said. A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Homeless Services didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Working through whether her wife would run for mayor was a tough process for the couple. They weighed Ms. Catullo's desire for privacy against the very public life of a mayor.
"In any marriage, when one person wants to do something that's big and potentially life-changing or just takes up a lot of the couple's time, it's a team decision. I knew this was a thing that would be challenging for her because she is a very, very private person," Ms. Quinn said.
Ms. Catullo said the couple largely agreed politically and has faced few major disagreements in their marriage. One issue, however, took a while to solve. She grew tired of her avid reading being interrupted by Ms. Quinn's TV choices—often "Law & Order: SVU" or reality shows. Ms. Catullo's father bought his daughter-in-law headphones, and peace has been achieved. Ms. Catullo can read while Ms. Quinn watches TV.