With Weiner running, it’s a whole new game
New York City’s longstanding mayoral candidates and their supporters, faced suddenly with the entry of former Brooklyn-Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner into the race for the Democratic nomination, were basically saying on Wednesday, “that’s fine, but we’ll keep on trying nonetheless.”
Still, some acknowledged that Weiner’s entry could make things harder for some of the candidates.
Weiner, who grew up in Park Slope, was known as an impassioned liberal, especially on healthcare, although a bit of a loose cannon. Then, in 2011, a “sexting” scandal brought about first laughter and derision (as well as puns about his name) and then his resignation.
Weiner’s campaign was clearly just getting off the ground on Wednesday. His site, anthonyweiner.com, now titled “Anthony Weiner 2013,” still had several glitches in it. Beforehand, the last entries on his website were from 2011.
And in a field where money talks, Weiner is jumping into the crowded Democratic primary field with some significant advantages, including a $4.8 million campaign war chest and the possibility of more than $1 million more in public matching money,
Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson said, in an email to the Eagle,
“I welcome Anthony Weiner into the race. This is a discussion about the future of New York — about economic development and jobs, improving public schools, and keeping streets safe. Anyone who can add to that discussion or bring ideas to the table, I welcome them to the race.”
In addition, Thompson’s chief strategist, Jonathan Prince, wrote, “We literally couldn’t be happier to welcome Anthony to the race — now let’s get to work.”
A statement from Friends of John Liu (the current city comptroller and another mayoral hopeful) said, “Glad he’s made it official; hopefully, the Weiner-media circus will finally dissipate and we can focus on schools, jobs, public safety and our vision for New York.”
When Weiner resigned, he was succeeded, for two years, by Republican Bob Turner. Bay Ridge resident Bob Capano, who served as Turner’s district director, told the Eagle:
“Former Congressman Bob Turner believes that although it is ultimately up to the people of NYC, it will be an uphill battle for Mr. Weiner to restore his credibility in this mayoral race. Bob Turner is committed to supporting the Republican nominee for mayor to keep our city safe and secure, and to grow our economy and create jobs.”
Political consultant George Arzt told the Eagle, “Weiner’s entry assures that there will be a runoff [in the Democratic Primary], because no one will get 40 percent.” He predicted that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Liu and Weiner himself wouldn’t survive this primary process, and “the runoff will probably be between Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn.”
Underdog candidate Sal Albanese, a former Bay Ridge councilman, said Weiner may attract votes among Queens residents, who remember him from his days as a Congressman, and from Jewish voters. However, he said that Weiner would take away more votes from his rivals than from himself.
A Marist Poll taken in April and re-released Wednesday gives Weiner second place among Democratic mayoral hopefuls at 15 percent, second only to Quinn at 26 percent. Liu, de Blasio and Thompson followed with 12 percent, 11 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
“I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons,” Weiner said in a video posted online. “I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance.”
After a photo of a man’s underwear-clad groin appeared on his Twitter account in 2011, Weiner initially claimed his account had been hacked. After more photos emerged — including one of him bare-chested in his congressional office — the married congressman eventually owned up to exchanging racy messages with several women, saying he’d never met any of them.
Weiner has done a series of magazine and TV interviews recently to reintroduce himself, and he has released a list of ideas styled as a blueprint for helping the city’s middle class thrive. The suggestions, some of them updates from a mayoral run he nearly made in 2009, include giving every public school student a Kindle reader and using Medicaid money to create a city-run, single-payer health system for the uninsured.
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