Some of New York’s most prominent gay Democrats are holding a $1,000-per-person fundraiser for mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in what hosts are calling the most significant embrace of the front-runner.
The group will gather Oct. 20 at the home of Charles Myers, partner at investment bank advisory firm Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR:US) and a donation bundler for President Barack Obama, according to an invitation e-mailed from de Blasio’s campaign. Other hosts include Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, and Tim Gunn, star of television’s “Project Runway,” who backed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, in the primary for the Democratic nomination.
Since winning the Sept. 10 primary, de Blasio has slimmed down his public schedule in favor of private fundraisers. He’s since raised almost $820,000, city campaign-finance records show. Contributors included Leonard Feinstein, the co-founder of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY:US), and John Zucotti, co-chairman of Brookfield Office Properties Inc. (BPO:US), who each gave $4,950, the legal maximum.
“We supported Chris because we were excited about the idea of having an openly gay mayor, not to mention her long history and record,” Socarides said in an interview. “But now people are excited about Bill and think he’s going to be an outstanding mayor, not only for the gay community but for all New York.”
The latest polls show de Blasio, 52, leading Republican Joseph P. Lhota, 59, who was a top aide to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ran the region’s subway system, by more than 40 percentage points. The two will face off tonight in the first of three televised debates before the Nov. 5 election.
Socarides cited de Blasio’s “strong” record on gay rights. Other hosts include Cynthia Nixon, who starred in “Sex and the City” and has backed de Blasio for months, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who initially endorsed former comptroller Bill Thompson.
“We thought it was important to send a signal from those of us who have been active in Democratic politics, that we are all united behind him,” Socarides said.
De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, came out as a lesbian in an article she wrote for Essence magazine before meeting her now husband.
Lhota, a supporter of same-sex marriage, said he, too, enjoys support from gay New Yorkers and has raised money with them.
“It’s not surprising that they’re maximizing the amount of access that they will have,” Lhota said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “My viewpoints on the LGBT community are well-documented, and I’ve worked with them over the years to make sure that they’re treated with dignity and respect.”
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