September 4, 2013 at 9:19 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Quinn losing ground in NYC mayor’s race: polls
Christine Quinn, New York City, gay news, Washington Blade

Christine Quinn (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Two new polls suggest New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s lead over her Democratic challengers in the mayoral campaign has evaporated less than two weeks before the Sept. 10 primary.

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted between Aug 22-27 found New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio leads Quinn by a 36-21 percent margin. Twenty percent of likely Democratic primary voters backed former New York City Comptroller William Thompson, Jr., while former Congressman Anthony Weiner received 8 percent.

Another Quinnipiac University poll released on July 29 showed Quinn ahead of de Blasio by a 27-21 percent margin. Thompson came in third with 20 percent, while 16 percent of respondents backed Weiner.

An amNewYork-News 12 poll that Pen Schoen Berland conducted between Aug. 22-27 found 29 percent of likely Democratic voters support de Blasio, compared to 24 percent who back Thompson. Quinn came in a distant third with 17 percent.

Quinn needs at least 40 percent of the vote in the Sept. 10 primary to avoid a run-off.

“The polling in this race has been topsy-turvy for months,” Quinn campaign spokesperson Mike Morey told the Washington Blade. “We expect a tight race and we expect that on primary night Christine Quinn will be in a runoff, because New Yorkers want an effective progressive who can actually get things done.”

Quinnipiac University and amNewYork-News 12 released their polls four days after the New York Times endorsed Quinn, who would become the city’s first female and first openly LGBT mayor if voters elect her to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund; the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City; the New York Daily News; Empire State Pride Agenda and Edith Windsor, the Manhattan widow who successfully challenged the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court, have also endorsed Quinn.

De Blasio and Quinn have clashed over the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy a federal judge last month found unconstitutional and other issues on the campaign trail and during a number of recent debates. Quinn continues to face criticism over her decision to support the extension of term-limits in 2008 that allowed Bloomberg, herself and other city officials to seek a third term in office.

Quinn in 2008 also acknowledged a City Council slush fund had since 2001 appropriated more than $17 million to community organizations that did not exist.

Brooklyn, N.Y., attorney Garfield Heslop in June asked the New York City Campaign Finance Board to investigate Quinn over the more than $20,000 in campaign contributions she received from donors in Houston, San Diego and Chicago after she attended Victory Fund events in the three cities in 2011 and 2012.

Pauline Park, a transgender activist in Queens who frequently criticized Quinn, told the Blade she feels the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows “the more the voters see of her the less they like.”

“Voters just aren’t buying Quinn’s phony baloney about being the one who’s delivered for New Yorkers,” Park said. “This survey also shows that 65 percent of Democratic primary voters want real change and a clean break with the plutocratic policies of the billionaire Bloomberg. And that is damaging Quinn, who as Council speaker has acted as a de facto deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration.”

The Victory Fund did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Paul Schindler, editor of Gay City News, which endorsed Quinn last month, noted to the Blade the polls have “bounced around a lot this year.” He said de Blasio’s numbers have only been good for the last few weeks, and he has come under more scrutiny as the current frontrunner ahead of the Sept. 10 primary.

“Clearly, de Blasio has made big strides,” Schindler told the Blade, referring to contributing factors that include Weiner’s growing unpopularity among voters and de Blasio’s position against the closure of St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in lower Manhattan and other city hospitals. “He, Quinn and Thompson all remain in the mix. I’d be surprised if there is not a runoff.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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