As the topsy-turvy New York City mayoral race hurtles toward the primary election date, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio appears to be peaking at the right time. Recent polling shows him with a clear lead over former top spot holder City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and insiders say he's likely to hold on to the lead when voters cast their ballot in the Democratic primary Sept. 10.
De Blasio garnered 36 percent support from likely voters in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, compared to 21 percent for Quinn, 20 percent for former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and 8 percent for former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
"De Blasio, in fourth place just five weeks ago, is edging up on the magic 40 percent needed to avoid a Democratic primary runoff," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a memo accompanying the poll results. "And if there is a runoff, he clobbers [Quinn] or Thompson."
Weiner had been Quinn's top challenger in earlier polling, but revelations that he continued to send lewd electronic messages to women – not his wife – following his congressional resignation for similar behavior stopped his campaign dead in its tracks.
A similar survey released about two weeks ago showed de Blasio at 30 percent, Quinn at 24 percent and Thompson at 22 percent.
One former New York Democratic operative says it looks like de Blasio is well-positioned to snatch the nomination.
"When you are this close you don't have a lot of time to move the needle so I don't think Chris Quinn is going to win," he says. "I would say de Blasio's got it - he's got every single labor union possible."
De Blasio has a solid liberal record, his children go to public school and he's been untainted by any notable political scandal, the Democrat says.
"Chris Quinn looks like 'Boss Tweed' – she's got a slush fund, she was close to [disgraced State Assemblyman] Vito Lopez and all the county chairs to become speaker," he says. "She's seen as a real insider."
The race's top issues have been debate over the 'stop and frisk' law enforcement policy instituted under current NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and initially supported by Quinn, though opponents say it amounts to racial profiling.
"The stop and frisk thing definitely hurts her," the Democrat says, adding that Quinn is hurt by her lack of minority support.
On the Republican side, Joe Lhota has a strong lead over both his opponents, businessman John Catsimatidis and George McDonald.