Donors to the de Blasio campaign since he won the Democratic primary election on Sept. 10 include Jim Chanos, founder of $6 billion hedge fund firm Kynikos Associates ($4,950 on Oct. 2); Blair Effron, co-founder of investment banking firm Centerview Partners ($4,950 on Oct. 7); Rodgin Cohen, the "dean of Wall Street lawyers" with Sullivan & Cromwell ($4,950 on Oct. 21); Neil Mitchell, an executive director of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management ($4,700 on Sept. 30); John Buttrick, a partner at $650 million venture capital firm Union Square Ventures ($2,000 on Oct. 18); Doug Karp, founder of private equity firm Pacific Partners ($3,950 on Oct. 18); Nicholas Azrack, a principal at $28 billion hedge fund firm Baupost Group ($2,400 on Oct. 10); and Robert Fernholz, founder of $39.3 billion Janus Capital Management affiliate Intech Investment Management ($4,950 on Sept. 16).
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Orin Kramer, head of hedge fund firm Boston Provident and a longtime Democratic fundraiser, has recently pitched de Blasio to his Wall Street peers, including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and WL Ross & Co. founder Wilbur Ross.
"He's extremely smart. He's also acutely aware that lifting incomes for middle-class families requires robust economic growth, and that we're competing with major cities around the world for the capital which drives that growth," Kramer told CNBC.com. "It's impossible to govern effectively without the confidence of the business community making the investments to create jobs; he's keenly sensitive to that."
Other surprising financial players are listed between taxi owners and workers' unions on de Blasio's donor rolls.
Hedge fund manager Craig Nerenberg of Brenner West Capital Partners and Goldman Sachs general counsel Robert Katz both backed de Blasio before the primary. Two portfolio managers of embattled hedge fund firm SAC Capital Advisors, James Haber and Brian Younger, also contributed to de Blasio early on.
The highest profile pre-primary backer, however, was billionaire investor George Soros.
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"New York's next Mayor needs to possess conviction, intelligence, and a clear vision for where they want to take the city. I believe Bill de Blasio possesses these qualities and will be an outstanding Mayor for all New Yorkers," Soros said in an endorsement statement on August 6.
Soros said he supported de Blasio because of his work to end stop-and-frisk policing tactics and plan to create universal pre-kindergarten education—which de Blasio hopes will be paid for by additional taxes on the wealthy—as well as his leadership on campaign finance reform.
Lhota does have support from several prominent investors. Hedge fund manager John Paulson of Paulson & Co. gave $175 to the campaign Sept. 5. Billionaire activist Carl Icahn gave $4,950 on April 23. And David Tepper, founder of hedge fund firm Appaloosa Management, gave $4,950 on May 9.