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Anthony Weiner fundraising spurred by positive poll numbers

Mayoral contender Anthony Weiner, standing with pharmacist Raymond

Mayoral contender Anthony Weiner, standing with pharmacist Raymond Macioci, campaigns at the Pilgrim Pharmacy in the Bronx. (July 16, 2013) Credit: Craig Ruttle

Anthony Weiner's fundraising pace accelerated sharply after an opinion poll cast him a front-runner in the New York City mayor race, an analysis of his contributions shows.

In the first five weeks after announcing his candidacy on May 22, Weiner raised $193,031.

In just 12 days after a Wall Street Journal/NBC New York/Marist Poll showed him with 25 percent support -- a statistical dead heat for first place among Democratic contenders, to July 7 -- Weiner brought in $184,083. And in a final surge in the last four days, when candidates traditionally step up fundraising, Weiner collected $451,737.

Arthur Paone, a retired Manhattan lawyer, donated $600 to Weiner after giving $250 to former Comptroller Bill Thompson in January.

Of the scandal that drove Weiner from Congress in 2011, he said, "It was utterly ridiculous and repulsive and it does show a lack of judgment. But I put it in one place . . . and I don't think it dominates his life. He's got so much else to offer."

Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Rodham Clinton aide, was responsible for raising almost $150,000, and donors cited her fundraising finesse and Clinton connections. Weiner Tuesday called her his "not-so-secret weapon."

Among the Abedin-inspired donors were Susie Buell of San Francisco, a founder of the Esprit clothing brand and friend of Clinton's; and Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia-based attorney who actively supported Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

"I've met him and I just had a good feeling about him," said Buell, who contributed $2,500.

Aronchick gave $1,000 last week and plans to give more.

"I like to support people who I think are progressive, principled, consistent, good voices, and he is that," he said.

Carole Hankin, the superintendent of the Syosset schools, said Abedin "has been a friend of mine for probably 15 years." She gave $175.

Weiner's fundraising report -- the first he's filed since announcing he'd run for mayor -- also lists at least $86,000 from donors who previously gave to other mayoral candidates.

Edward Mermelstein, a Manhattan lawyer, donated $4,950 to Bill de Blasio before Weiner's entry -- he has known both men for years -- but finds Weiner the better candidate.

"With respect to Mr. de Blasio, I think he's leaning a little too far too the left," said Mermelstein, who donated $2,000 to Weiner.

Paone said he had supported Thompson because he was "perfectly OK for the field that was there."

But "when Weiner came in, I just got very excited." Paone said. "He's smart. He's got good ideas. He's full of energy . . ."

Manhattan lawyer Richard F. Bernstein, who opposes a proposed waste transfer station on the Upper East Side, gave $500 each to Thompson and Weiner.

"He's out in front" in polls, Bernstein said of Weiner, "so I guess you can say I'm hedging my bets."

Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, gave $2,000 to Weiner last week. Previously he donated $4,000 to Quinn.

"There are times when people who are in service businesses make political contributions because they believe in the principles and the positions that a certain candidate takes," Knakal said.

Other times, he said, it is because they are asked to by clients or friends. Knakal, who also gave to Weiner in 2008, would not say to which category he belongs.

With Emily Ngo

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