Anthony Weiner Is Running For Mayor Of New York City
Almost exactly two years after the beginning of a personal scandal that resulted in his resignation, former Congressman Anthony Weiner has announced that he’s running for Mayor of the nation’s largest city:
Anthony D. Weiner, once a rising star of New York politics whose career cratered over revelations of his sexually explicit life online, announced an improbable bid on Wednesday for the job he has long coveted: mayor.
After a rocky re-emergence into public life over the past few weeks, marked by circuslike scenes of tabloid photographers chasing him onto the subway, Mr. Weiner opted to declare his candidacy from the safe remove of avideo.
The two-minute video was posted online overnight, apparently prematurely, and then announced by Mr. Weiner in a 5 a.m. e-mail. It makes an oblique and glancing reference to the scandal that prompted him to resign from Congress; Mr. Weiner asks voters for “a second chance,” but does not apologize for his conduct.
“Look, I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down,” he says. “But I’ve also learned some tough lessons.”
Opening with soft piano music and footage of Mr. Weiner and his wife at home feeding their newborn son, the video suggests Mr. Weiner is a changed man, now busy raising a family. It quickly pivots to show Mr. Weiner expressing concern about affordable housing, education and public safety.
His candidacy, fueled by a $5 million war chest and a determination to resurrect his public standing, promises to immediately disrupt a wide-open Democratic primary race populated by several lesser-known candidates.
But it comes with heavy baggage, starting with the deep ambivalence of voters to whom Mr. Weiner lied two years ago, when he indignantly, and falsely, denied that he had sent an Internet image of himself in his underwear to a college student in Seattle.
Mr. Weiner, 48, eventually admitted to a secret practice of befriending young female admirers over the Internet and engaging in intimate sexual banter with them, sometimes sending them lewd self-portraits taken with his BlackBerry.
Mr. Weiner’s skeletal campaign seemed to struggle with the logistics of posting the video. Even after it was published, many viewers still saw outdated content from an old Congressional campaign on Mr. Weiner’s Web siteand Facebook page.
In the new campaign video, Mr. Weiner describes himself as a champion of the city’s middle class, and decries rising rents, inadequate schools, overregulated neighborhood businesses, and a paucity of “good jobs with benefits.”
“The very people that put everything they had into this city are getting priced right out of it,” he says. “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Although his tenure in Congress has often been derided as unproductive, in the video Mr. Weiner says he won money to hire police officers in the city, fought for assistance for first responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and helped win the battle to pass a health insurance overhaul.
“We can make a difference, if we’re willing to fight for it,” he says.
The video features multiple reminders of Mr. Weiner’s family — an important strategy if he is to reassure voters made uneasy by his online behavior. His wife, Huma Abedin, who has worked as a close aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears twice, first at home, with their son, Jordan, and then on a stoop in Park Slope. She declares, “We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
As NBC’s First Read points out, Weiner faces an uphill battle:
Weiner has a lot of work to do. A Quinnipiac poll found almost half of New Yorkers don’t think he should be running – 49%. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn continues to lead, but with just 25%, though she gets a 53% job approval. Weiner now comes in second with 15%. And there’s still an opening for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to launch and independent bid. By a 45%-38% margin, New Yorkers think he should run.
In most polls to date, Christine Quinn seems to have an insurmountable lead, but with the Democratic primary not set to take place until mid-September, this race is just really getting under way. Anything can happen. Could Weiner pull off a win? Who knows.
Here’s his campaign video: