On the ride back from Connecticut, although not saying anything to Tyler, Miri came to the decision not to run for the public advocate’s job. Running for office was incredibly demanding, especially in a city-wide race in America’s largest city. Certainly, she would welcome the leadership role, the chance to take on issues like homelessness that others had avoided or given up on. But she had no expectation she could win. If she had no chance of winning, why try?
Sunday evening, her special time with Mark. Walking into the apartment, she decided to whip up a home-made meal using the jumbo shrimp she’d picked up Friday at an oriental market in Soho. Garlic shrimp on pasta and a kale salad. Tasty and healthy. He’d be pleased.
Cheeks ruddy from a windy spring day on his boat, Mark arrived home earlier than usual.
“It’s only five-thirty,” Miri called from the kitchen. “How’d it go today?”
“Very fast and satisfying. We beat a gorgeous boat visiting from Annapolis. How was your day in the country?”
They sprawled on the living room couch and she described the Cedar Inn and Tyler’s connection to it, all the while wondering whether or not to tell him about Tyler’s proposition. Knowing he’d be happy with her decision not to run, she decided to tell all. She brought out a bottle of Austrian Gruner Veltliner to sip before dinner while she recounted her lunch conversation. When she got to the climax – Tyler urging her to go for his job – Mark broke in with, “That’s fantastic.”
“What? I thought you’d be horrified.”
“You’re not keen on public service. And being P.A. would take even more of my life than being associate. Without mentioning, of course, that it’s a race I have no chance of winning.”
He responded with a loud chuckle. “Miri, my friend, have you ever known me to run from a race? Ever? The more challenging the better.”
“I concede you’re a fierce competitor, but this is politics, not yachting.”
“A race is a race is a race.”
Floored, she sat speechless.
He got up to grab his iPad. “This will be a special election, right?”
“I’m looking up the last one five years ago. There were a lot of candidates, weren’t there?”
“Everybody and his brother. I never understood that.”
“Honey, it’s not the work people relish. It’s because the job is a springboard to higher office. P.A. de Blasio went on to become mayor and Letitia James, state attorney general. This could be your path to the Presidency.”
“Okay, but path to something higher.”
She left to get some cheese and crackers from the kitchen. When she came back, she said, “Even if I wanted to run – which I don’t – there are tons of obstacles in the way.”
“Money, for starters. I’ve got another year until my loan is paid off. Even with public financing, I’d have to raise a lot of money.”
“Forget about money. At least, for now. What other obstacles?”
“I have few contacts.”
“Hell, you know a lot of people in this city. And those who know you love you.”
She gritted her teeth. “I don’t know any of the Democratic Party clubs, and their endorsements are key.”
“Let me think about that one. What else?”
“I have no community base. Being a renter in Greenwich Village isn’t exactly a base.”
“You’re wrong about that.” He took her hand. “Miri, you’ve been here a decade. You’ve got ties from the school you taught at and NYU. You can get a lot of campaign workers from them. And every restaurant owner in the Village knows you.”
She had to smile. “Ethnic restaurant.”
“That’s ninety percent of them.” He examined his iPad screen. “I’ve got some research to do. Why don’t you rattle some pots and pans?”