They live in South Florida, but they're still in a New York state of mind.
The transplants lobby for Big Apple mayoral candidates, try to influence how their friends and family will vote in the Sept. 10 primary and raise money and awareness for their favorites — all from their homes in the city's so-called "sixth borough."
Deerfield Beach resident Diane Spinelli, who sells time shares, has lived in South Florida for 14 years, but retains strong ties to the city.
"My daughter lives in Manhattan. My sister lives in Staten Island. My brother lives in Queens. I'm a Brooklyn girl through and through," Spinelli said. "I am tremendously political and so are my friends — and interested in what's going on."
After Labor Day, Greg Aguirre, of Hollywood, predicts interest will intensify in the Sept. 10 Democratic and Republican primaries to winnow the field of contenders to succeed 12-year Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Aguirre, 35, (born in Brooklyn; raised in Queens) is so committed to Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, that he named his recently organized group of supporters "6th Borough for Joe."
"A true New Yorker never forgets where they came from," Aguirre said. "The interest is here a lot, not only for myself, but [for] people spread throughout Palm Beach and Broward and Miami-Dade — New York City ex-pats."
Aguirre isn't unique in his ongoing passion for his former city, said Mark Alan Siegel, 69, of Boca Raton, a former Palm Beach County Democratic chairman and former member of the New York State Legislature. "People are interested in it because various people have ties back there," he said.
It's not for nothin' that South Florida is called the sixth borough (an addition to the official ones, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, that compose the city).
In 2011, the most recent year analyzed by the Census Bureau, 59,288 New Yorkers moved to Florida, more than any other state-to-state migration. And in 2012, a Quinnipiac University Poll even found the New York Yankees is the favorite team of Florida baseball fans.
Spinelli, 66, who sells time shares and has lived in South Florida for 14 years, gave $250 to Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.
Outside of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, candidate reports filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board show Florida is the top state for donations to the city's mayoral candidates.
Though South Florida is heavily Democratic, Aguirre, chief executive of a consulting firm that helps businesses find capital, says he's hoping the "6th Borough for Joe" can raise some campaign contributions. He's operating on the assumption, backed by public opinion polling, that his candidate will survive the primary and move on to a runoff.
Bob Young, 57, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat and former New Yorker who works for a fire and flood remediation company, said he's following the campaign, but tries to avoid discussing it. He's concluded in recent years that "it's best not to discuss politics with your friends in the Fox News era."
Brooklyn-born Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar said there's lots of discussion about the mayoral race, with most of it revolving around Anthony Weiner.
Weiner is the former congressman with a penchant for sending electronic pictures of his penis using the nom de plume Carlos Danger. He's tanked in the polls but used to have big support in South Florida.
Before Weiner's infamy, he was a leading contender in the 2009 mayoral election, but dropped out when a change in term limits allowed Bloomberg to seek a third term. Leading up to the aborted 2009 candidacy, Weiner raised $153,000 in Florida. His current, shorter campaign has brought him $27,400 from Florida.
The '09 campaign included a big fundraiser at the Parkland home of one of South Florida's top Democratic fundraisers, lawyer Mike Moskowitz. Campaign records show none of the people Moskowitz previously encouraged to contribute have given money to Weiner this time around.
"Things have changed," Moskowitz said. Moskowitz is sitting out this year's campaign.
Even Weiner doesn't induce the kind of intense feelings that many New York transplants harbor about the man who may be the city's best known former mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
Irwin Wenzel, 53, a Delray Beach Republican who flies for American Eagle, is like many South Florida New Yorkers. "New York City will always be my hometown. I'll always consider myself a New Yorker."
He doesn't want the city to return to the pre-Giuliani days. "When I left the city in '86 it was a cesspool, and he did a magnificent job," he said. "I hope that whoever is mayor is as tough as Giuliani was."
But Young, who was born in Brooklyn and lived in Manhattan, said Giuliani was part of the reason he left.
"He had such a fascist death grip on the city," he said. "I miss the way New York used to be, before it Disneyfied."
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