Fueled by a $5 million war chest and his unequivocal ambition, former Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his candidacy for New York City mayor, two years after he resigned from office in disgrace over lying about sending lewd pictures of himself by Internet to a college student.
While his name recognition is high and the race to succeed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is wide open, Weiner, 48, will have an exceedingly high wall to scale. Though a Quinnipiac University poll has Weiner in second place with 15 percent of the vote, trailing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn by 10 points, the poll also found that nearly half of city voters say Weiner should not enter the race for mayor. But another 38 percent of voters want to see him run.
The problem for Weiner, from the public’s standpoint, isn’t that he sent a picture of himself in his underwear to a college student in Seattle, it’s that he lied about it. For more than a week, he denied that he had sent the photo, claiming instead that his @repweiner Twitter account had been hacked.
But then several other women came forward to say that they too had shared sexually charged exchanges with the married congressman. Weiner had no choice but to admit he had lied.
Weiner announced his candidacy by way of a wholesome campaign video posted on Youtube.
“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 the video. “I’m running because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life.”
The Democratic primary will be held on September 10.
Weiner had been widely seen as preparing himself for a mayoral run for years, ever since he stomped onto the City Council in the 1990s as a young hotshot with a brash, outspoken style and a hunger for the headlines.
After keeping a low profile since his resignation from Congress, Weiner burst back onto the scene in April when he and his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were featured in a cover story of the New York Times Magazine.
His wife also appears in the two-minute campaign video, telling voters: “We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
Weiner has said he spent about $100,000 on polling to test the public’s appetite for his political comeback. He unveiled a new Twitter account, @anthonyweiner, attracting thousands of followers within days, and he released a booklet of policy ideas, titled “Keys to the City.”
Among the ideas floated in the booklet were replacing textbooks in city schools with Kindle e-readers, expanding the city’s ferry system and creating a single-payer health care system for uninsured and under-insured New Yorkers.
John Feal, an advocate for first responders injured in the attacks of September 11, 2001, in an interview with Reuters had much praise for Weiner, who he said fought for the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act for sick workers.
“He was there fighting for us in the beginning and he was there at the end fighting for us. And I’ll always remember that,” Feal said.
“We’re all human,” Feal said of the scandal that led to Weiner’s downfall.