De Blasio tops Lhota in polls, fundraising

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio campaigns at the

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio campaigns at the Red Hook Initiative, a non-profit after school program in Brooklyn. (Oct. 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

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Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio Friday rebutted opponent attacks on his credentials to lead New York City and his commitment to fiscal responsibility as fundraising disclosures and yet another poll showed him with a huge lead over Republican Joe Lhota.

With less than five weeks until Election Day, de Blasio topped Lhota 68 percent to 19 percent in a poll by The New York Times and Siena College.

Underscoring the gap, de Blasio's fundraising haul since the Sept. 10 primary, $793,000, was nearly twice Lhota's, $422,000, according to reports filed with the city's Campaign Finance Board covering donations through Sept. 30. That included $637,000 for the Democrat and $280,000 for the Republican in the latest two-week period.

Lhota, a former deputy mayor and transit chief, has called de Blasio a "political hack" lacking the experience necessary to run the city.

De Blasio, speaking to reporters after addressing a business group, said his resume -- he's now the city's public advocate, and worked in City Hall under Mayor David Dinkins and as a regional federal housing chief under President Bill Clinton -- have prepared him to lead the city, with its $70 billion annual budget and 297,000 municipal employees.

"I've done so many things that prepare me for leadership and for handling the rigors, for handling the pressure -- I know this city," de Blasio said.

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De Blasio was greeted with a standing ovation from the Association for a Better New York, an audience that included many of the civic and business elite who are nervous about the prospect of him taking the reins from billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In his 30-minute speech, de Blasio argued that the city overall would be better off by funding social programs such as universal prekindergarten, which he would pay for by raising taxes on the rich.

"The economic insecurity steadily creeping up into the middle class is a threat to our city's long-term future and something we must urgently address," he said.

He also vowed to end "giveaways that disproportionately favor luxury housing" and "overly generous tax incentives for big corporations."

Asked about other business taxes, de Blasio said he could make no promises because of the "open labor contracts and huge unknowns." He went on to say that he's "a progressive activist fiscal conservative, but I'm still a fiscal conservative."

Lhota ridiculed de Blasio's claim, saying de Blasio would spend "like a drunken sailor." A Lhota campaign email said, "It's delusional for anyone to think Bill de Blasio is a fiscal conservative."

The Times-Siena poll yesterday closely mirrors one by Quinnipiac released a day earlier showing de Blasio beating Lhota 71 percent to 21 percent.

But the support didn't extend to all of de Blasio's platform.

Nearly half of those questioned in the Times-Siena poll said they supported the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practice, which de Blasio has criticized as allowing racial profiling. Unlike de Blasio, the voters surveyed also strongly favored keeping Ray Kelly as police commissioner and expanding charter schools.

On nearly every issue, though, New Yorkers said they thought de Blasio would do a better job: keeping them safe from crime, improving education, protecting them from terrorism and keeping the city safe during natural disaster.

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The survey of 700 likely voters was conducted Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

With Matt Clark

and William Murphy

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