With 616 days until Mayor Bloomberg leaves office, the race to replace him is starting to get interesting, in the polls at least. While Ray Kelly is still out of the race (to many GOPers dismay) and John Catsimatidis is once-again mulling a Republican run, well-financed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn just saw a big jump in her standings. According to the most recent Marist/NY1 poll, the Manhattan politician is ahead of the pack by a solid 20 points. That's a big jump from last September when she was barely on top.

When Democrats were asked which of the current candidates—Quinn, Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan BP Scott Stringer and Manhattan Media publisher Tom Allon—they would support if the election were today , 32 percent picked Quinn. [PDF] That is 20 percent ahead of Thompson (12 percent), her closest rival. Poor Tom Allon had a mere one percent support while 29 percent of those polled are still undecided. And a full 50 percent of Manhattan voters currently support Quinn.

Clearly, Quinn is the candidate to beat when it comes to the Democratic primary next year. But she might have one hiccup coming. When pollsters asked how an endorsement from Mayor Bloomberg might help or hinder a candidate [PDF], 42 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for that person (28 percent said it would make them more likely). It's widely expected that Bloomberg will endorse Quinn, but it looks like she'd be better off seeking his denouncement.