The world is supposed to end in 2012, according to the Mayans, hard-line Christians, and the homeless guy on the corner holding the cardboard sign.

But if it doesn't, New Yorkers may wish it had just so they could get a bit of respite from what is shaping up to be a bruising, expensive, relentless battle to succeed Michael Bloomberg as the city's mayor.

Though Election Day 2013 is still far away, it's the first time the city will have a new top dog in 12 years, so this battle will get intense early, bringing out all the political dreamers who were unable to get into Gracie Mansion over the past generation.

This slideshow offers a look at who to pay attention to as the mayoral race shapes up over the next 12 months.