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Goldman, SAC among de Blasio's Wall Street backers

Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 7:00 AM ET
Bill de Blasio
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Bill de Blasio

For a Brownstone Brooklyn populist, likely New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has some surprising supporters in the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

It's true that many investing types are supporting Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota over pro-tax de Blasio in the general election Tuesday. Christine Quinn—the more moderate heir to current mayor Mike Bloomberg's pro-finance policies—was Wall Street's Democrat of choice in the September primary with supporters like Dan Loeb of Third Point, Richard Perry of Perry Partners and Robert Ziff of Och-Ziff Capital Management.

But with de Blasio leading Lhota by 45 points in a recent New York Times poll, it's becoming increasingly clear that de Blasio is the candidate who really matters. Perhaps as a result, some surprising supporters from the financial community have emerged in his corner.

In total, about three times more money has flowed to de Blasio than to Lhota. He's outraised his GOP rival $9.45 million to $3.37 million so far, according to public campaign records.

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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).

(Read more: Wall Street's fear of de Blasio 'overblown')

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.

(Read more: Hedge funders are ecstatic about this politician)

"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.

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.

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