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NYC mayor to spend $10M for moderate candidates

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend at least $10 million of his personal fortune promoting moderate candidates around the country in the final weeks before Election Day, he announced Wednesday, adding himself to the list of wealthy Americans pouring millions of dollars into the 2012 election.

The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, one of the wealthiest people in the country, said his self-financed super PAC _ to be called Independence USA PAC _ would focus on candidates in sync with him on issues including gun violence and education reform. It would also advocate for ballot measures on issues such as gay marriage _ of which Bloomberg is a vocal supporter.

"It's critically important that we have elected officials in Washington, Albany and around the nation who are willing to work across party lines to achieve real results," the mayor said in a statement. "I've always believed in the need for more independent leadership, and this new effort will support candidates and causes that will help protect Americans from the scourge of gun violence, improve our schools, and advance our freedoms."

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, a political veteran who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign in 2008, is taking a leave of absence from City Hall to head up the effort.

Among the candidates Bloomberg's group will support are: former Maine Gov. Angus King, now running for Senate there as an independent; former Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, running for his old congressional seat in upstate New York; Republican Rep. Robert Dold, running for re-election in Illinois; and Gloria Negrete McLeod, a California state senator running for U.S. House.

"There'll be others," Wolfson said Wednesday. "Every journey begins with a single step. I don't think we're going to transform Washington in a day, but the NRA is on the field spending millions to influence elections, and it's important for people who feel differently to have their voices heard as well."

Other American billionaires have been leveraging their wealth to make an impact this campaign season. George Soros has put millions of dollars into liberal super PACs, and conservative brothers Charles and David Koch have been pouring their funds into a group that has bought billions of dollars in ads. But unlike those groups, Bloomberg has declined to announce a presidential pick.

Wolfson said the mayor's super PAC wouldn't be paying for any presidential ads.

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Follow Samantha Gross at http://twitter.com/samanthagross