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Why New York mayor's race could be big deal for American liberalism

The new front-runner in the New York mayor's race is Bill de Blasio, the most liberal major candidate in the field. If he wins, it could be a boost for the left nationally.

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New York City mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio speaks with supporters and residents during the annual Morrison Avenue Festival in the Bronx borough of New York earlier this year.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

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A dramatic August surge has catapulted New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio into a surprising double-digit lead with less than two weeks to go before the Sept. 10 Democratic primary.

As late as mid-July, when the mayor’s race was dominated by the reemergence of Anthony Weiner, Mr. de Blasio languished in fourth place in most polls, a side story to the new campaign of the charismatic candidate, who energized what many saw as a lackluster race.

But as Carlos Danger and Sydney Leathers receded from the political spotlight, de Blasio, the most liberal voice, began to quietly pick up those voters abandoning the self-imploding congressman from Queens.

Now de Blasio has the backing of 36 percent of likely Democratic voters, up from 10 percent in mid-July, according to a Quinnipiac poll. De Blasio’s emergence has even put the loping 6-foot, 5-inch public advocate within reach of the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid an Oct. 1 runoff.

Long-time front-runner Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker and frequent ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is languishing at 21 percent, a statistical dead heat with former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who narrowly lost to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the 2009 general election. (Mr. Bloomberg cannot run for a fourth term because of term limits.)

Even in a runoff, however, the Quinnipiac poll shows de Blasio easily beating Ms. Quinn, 59 percent to 30 percent, and Mr. Thompson, 52 percent to 36 percent.

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