New York (CNN) - Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned in disgrace after sending lewd photos via Twitter, got some good news Tuesday with a new poll indicating he's gaining ground in the New York City mayoral race.
Asked by CNN if he's getting a second chance, Weiner argued voters aren't focused on his scandal.
"Look. I have said from the moment I got into this race that I honor the idea that people are going to have questions about me, but for the most part the questions people have been asking have been the things that affect their families."
A new Marist poll released Tuesday indicates Weiner is catching up to the Democratic frontrunner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. He's now five points behind her in the race for the Democratic nomination, 24%-19%. The other candidates fall below 12%.
Also noteworthy, 53% say Weiner deserves a second chance, while 39% say he lacks the character to be mayor. If no candidate receives 40% of the vote in this fall's Democratic primary, there would be a run-off. And in a head-to-head match-up in the same poll, Quinn crushes Weiner by 15 points.
Weiner's comments came shortly before his first debate, where he received a warm welcome. Five Democratic candidates gathered for the education-themed showdown, but noticeably absent was Quinn. Citing a scheduling conflict, Quinn dropped out of the debate at the last minute, even though the event's organizers insisted she helped set the date.
Weiner, who jumped into the race last week, took a noticeably different approach than his opponents. With rolled-up sleeves and no suit jacket, the former congressman looked more relaxed and frequently sat back in his chair as he listened to others speak.
But when it was his turn to talk, he sometimes stood up, taking the microphone out of the stand placed in front of him on the table.
At the debate Weiner said he'd be an independent voice in the Big Apple, even if that means bumping heads with the state's popular Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the state's legislature.
"If I'm lucky enough to get your vote, and I wind up being mayor I may have to fight with Governor Cuomo on things, but honestly he started it," he said. "My view is that every single day we should be chafing at the yoke of Albany control on everything."
Some tension may already exist between Weiner and Cuomo. Last week, Cuomo told a newspaper "Shame on us" if Weiner is elected, but later said he was only kidding.
The governor defended those comments Tuesday when a reporter asked if he was really joking in the remark.
"Yeah that was the context, but that's what I said and that was my comment on the mayoral race and will now let them run their race and we'll see what happens," Cuomo said.