‘Tabloid Twins’ Weiner, Spitzer Lead in NYC Democrat Poll

Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, who both resigned elective offices amid sex scandals, lead the Democratic Party’s nominating campaigns for New York mayor and city comptroller, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Weiner, 48, who quit as a congressman in 2011 after posting lewd photos of himself on the Internet, received 25 percent to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s 22 percent, with 21 percent undecided, according to the poll released today.

Spitzer, 54, who in 2008 resigned as governor after revelations that he consorted with high-priced prostitutes, leads Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 48 percent to 33 percent for comptroller, the poll shows. Spitzer jumped in the race July 7. The primary is about eight weeks away.

“Notoriety has earned the ‘tabloid twins’ good initial numbers in the polls,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said in an interview. “Whether those numbers hold up in the Sept. 10 primary election is the big question.”

Weiner and Spitzer were each the last to enter their respective races and have captured most of the media’s attention. The telephone survey July 8-14 of 738 registered Democrats has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Year-Long Campaign

The mayor of the most populous U.S. city is elected to a four-year term and has chief responsibility over a workforce of about 300,000 with a $70 billion operating budget and more than $74 billion in long-term municipal debt. Six of the candidates had been campaigning for about a year when Weiner joined the race May 22.

Among the other Democratic mayoral aspirants, William Thompson -- the party’s 2009 mayoral nominee -- was third at 11 percent; city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio had 10 percent; Comptroller John Liu got 7 percent; and 1 percent backed former City Councilman Sal Albanese.

The comptroller audits the mayor and all municipal agencies and oversees the five pension funds, which hold assets of about $140 billion. Stringer had been campaigning without opposition since November until Spitzer declared his bid. The poll shows 16 percent were undecided.

Although Democrats hold a 6-to-1 voter registration edge over Republicans in the city, a Democrat hasn’t been elected mayor since 1989, when David Dinkins, a former city clerk, became New York’s first black chief executive. The last year a Republican served as comptroller was 1945.

Influential Office

Spitzer, known as the sheriff of Wall Street while serving as attorney general from 1999 to 2006, has said he wants to use the office and its billions of dollars in investments to influence corporate policies on executive pay, consumer safety and environmental and labor practices.

Weiner has described himself as “a disruptive candidate” for mayor, and has called for workers to pay more for health insurance and the establishment of a government-run health insurance system for all New Yorkers. A former city councilman, he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from a Brooklyn-Queens district in 1998.

He has asked voters to forgive him for the scandal that led to his 2011 resignation from Congress, when he sent photographs of his crotch to women using the Twitter Inc. website, then lied about it saying his account had been hacked.

Black voters favored Spitzer, 61 percent to 26 percent for Stringer, the poll indicates. Among women, Spitzer also led Stringer, 44 percent to 32 percent, and among men, Spitzer topped Stringer 53 percent to 33 percent.

In the mayor’s race, blacks backed Weiner over Quinn 31 percent to 16 percent, the poll shows. Thompson, the only black in the race, got 14 percent from that demographic group; 11 percent supported Liu and 8 percent went for de Blasio.

Erick Salgado, a Latino preacher from the Bronx, wasn’t counted in the mayoral poll.

The election is the first in 12 years in which City Hall’s top job will be vacant. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is legally barred from seeking a fourth term.

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