Liberal philanthropist and businessman George Soros re-emerged in the political spotlight on Tuesday, officially endorsing public advocate Bill de Blasio to be the next mayor of New York City.
“I am endorsing Bill de Blasio for Mayor because I believe he has the talent, vision and ability to lead New York City,” said Soros in a statement issued by de Blasio’s press team.
In particular, Soros cited the public advocate's support for universal prekindergarten and opposition to New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk police policy, which critics say unfairly targets black men.
“Bill de Blasio has cut through the rhetoric on stop-and-frisk, and alone advanced concrete policy changes that can mean far fewer innocent New Yorkers are subject to this demeaning practice while reductions in crime are maintained,” Soros said.
In recent years, Soros has shifted his focus from politics to charity. While the Hungarian-born hedge fund manager spent $25.5 million to remove then-President George W. Bush in 2004, he remained relatively quiet during the 2012 election, Business Insider noted. His support for de Blasio marks a return to politics that could animate the city’s left-leaning Democrats.
Soros, who is estimated to have a net worth of nearly $20 billion, isn’t the only big-name liberal to come out in favor of de Blasio. At a raucous fundraising event in July, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean reenacted his infamous “Dean scream” and called de Blasio the only true progressive in a crowded mayoral race.
Recent polling suggests de Blasio may be benefiting from the recent derailment of Anthony Weiner's campaign. A poll released by Quinnipiac University last Wednesday shows de Blasio now running second among Democratic voters, to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, with 21 percent of the vote. Quinn takes the lead with 27 percent, while Weiner, embroiled anew in a sexting controversy, has dropped to just 16 percent from the 26 percent he held just one week earlier.
The Democratic candidates for mayor will face off in a primary scheduled for Sept. 10. They are vying to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is stepping down after three terms.