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Quinn Slips in Poll, But Still Leads Mayor's Race As Weiner Re-Emerges

By Jill Colvin | April 10, 2013 10:35am | Updated on April 10, 2013 1:46pm

NEW YORK CITY — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's poll numbers are down following a barrage of criticism in recent weeks — and coinciding with the apparent re-emergence of former mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.

Quinn's share of the Democratic vote now stands at 32 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll — a five-month low and a significant dip from late February when 37 percent of voters polled said Quinn was their top pick.

Nonetheless, Quinn remains far ahead of her Democratic rivals, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, with 14 percent, Bill Thompson with 13 percent, and City Comptroller John Liu with 7 percent of the vote.

That represents a two-point bump for Thompson and a two-point drop for Liu since February, though both changes were within the poll's margin of error.

But the mayoral race also got more interesting Wednesday with the release of a New York Times Magazine profile of former mayoral hopeful Weiner. In an article clearly meant to test the waters for a comeback, the politician, who was forced to resign from Congress after he tweeted a photo of his penis, said he was still interested in Gracie Mansion.

“I don’t have this burning, overriding desire to go out and run for office,” Weiner told the Times. “It’s not the single animating force in my life as it was for quite some time."

"But I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something. I’m trying to gauge not only what’s right and what feels comfortable right this second, but I’m also thinking, How will I feel in a year or two years or five years? Is this the time that I should be doing it? And then there’s the other side of the coin, which is . . . am I still the same person who I thought would make a good mayor?”

The dip in Quinn's numbers comes following stepped-up criticism from her rivals as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who have threatened a plan she supports to install an NYPD Inspector General would compromise public safety.

Quinn was also the subject of an unflattering profile in the New York Times, which painted her as temperamental and willing to use public money to punish council members who dare to cross her, promoting new calls for reform.

“Springtime brings the first tiny hints of movement in the mayoral race, which has been frozen throughout the fall and winter,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Director Maurice Carroll.

“Council Speaker Christine Quinn is still on top, but she’s lost a step," he said.

Her campaign brushed off the dip.

"Polls will go up and polls will go down. Chris Quinn will continue doing what she has been for years, and that's delivering results for New Yorkers," spokesman Mike Morey said.

On the Republican side, former MTA Chair Joe Lhota remains the Republican frontrunner, with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Doe Fund founder George McDonald at 11 percent (up an impressive 9 points, from just 2 percent in January), and supermarket magnate  John Catsimatidis at 8 percent.

Still, most voters polled said they didn't know enough about any of the candidates to form an opionio. And, and the poll found that, if the election were held today, Lhota would lose to any of the Democratic candidates.

The poll also asked voters about the recent scandals shaking Albany and city lawmakers.

More than 80 percent of those polled said government corruption in the city was a "very" or "somewhat serious" problem, though most said others cities are just as corrupt as New York.

Voters also placed the blame for the recent scandals on Republicans, with 38 percent identifying them with corruption, versus 26 percent for Democrats.

The poll of 1,417 voters, which was conducted from April 3rd through 8th, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

The poll was conducted before critics unveiled an anti-Quinn TV ad — the first of the campaign — which began airing Monday, accusing Quinn of turning her back on progressive principals. Quinn has slammed the ad as inaccurate and wants it pulled from the air.