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New poll: Spitzer, Weiner front-runners

Left, Anthony Weiner leaves his apartment building in

Left, Anthony Weiner leaves his apartment building in Manhattan. Right, Eliot Spitzer collects signatures for his run for New York City Comptroller in New York. (May 15, 2013, July 8, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert, AP

Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are ahead of their competitors as they seek to return to public office after scandals that left their political careers in ruins, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Monday.

Spitzer, with 48 percent support among registered Democratic voters, has a 15-percentage point lead over his rival for New York City comptroller, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

Weiner, running for mayor, has 25 percent to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's 22 percent. Former Comptroller William Thompson was a distant third, at 11 percent, followed by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, 10 percent, and Comptroller John Liu, 7 percent. If no candidate reaches 40 percent in the Sept. 10 primary, the top two meet in a runoff three weeks later.

Quinnipiac poll director Maurice Carroll attributed Spitzer's and Weiner's front-runner statuses to media exposure. "I call them the tabloid twins," he said. "Clearly, that notoriety has produced a certain celebrity. Celebrity, presumably, at least in the polls, has produced support."

The poll surveyed 738 registered city Democrats July 8-14. Its margin of error is 3.6 percentage points.

Spitzer called the results of early polls "gratifying." In a Marist survey last week, he led by 9 points.

Stringer spokeswoman Audrey Gelman said in a statement: "We're confident that as more voters get to know Scott he will be the obvious choice for Comptroller."

The Quinnipiac poll showed 62 percent of Democrats haven't heard enough about Stringer to form an opinion. Only 12 percent didn't know enough about Spitzer, who resigned as governor in 2008 because of a prostitution scandal, and 53 percent had a favorable opinion.

Stringer is struggling with name recognition outside of Manhattan, said Christina Greer, Fordham University assistant professor of political science.

Weiner, whose congressional career ended in 2011 after a texting scandal, has used his "aggressive" campaign style to galvanize the mayor's race, Greer said.Weiner's campaign did not respond for a request for comment on the poll. Quinn's spokesman, Mike Morey, said in a statement that polls results will change weekly, but Quinn's status as the only candidate with "real ideas" and "a record of results" will not.

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