Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the Forest Hills Democrat, may or may not have launched a campaign for mayor this week when he released a plan called “Keys to the City: 64 Ideas to Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class” — and started a new Twitter account.
Weiner was forced from office a little less than two years ago when it was revealed that he had been sending lewd photos of himself to young women around the country, many via Twitter, and then lied about it for weeks. Until the scandal hit, he was a darling of the Democratic Party for his take-no-prisoners approach to political discourse, advocacy for the needs of his Central and Southwestern Queens district and staunch support of Israel, among other things. He was, for example, a foremost cheerleader of President Obama’s healthcare bill, without which, Weiner said, the economy couldn’t recover from the recession.
With millions of dollars in his campaign war chest and major name recognition, he was seen as the leading candidate for mayor in 2013, a position that fell to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn the moment Weiner left office.
But now he’s back, first conducting a survey to test his chances in the political waters, then scoring a front-page profile of his family in The New York Times Magazine and now issuing his plan to improve the city.
The document starts off with a homey introduction written in the first person, perhaps in part to help clean up his tarnished image. In a section called “The View from the Stoop,” Weiner says, “My parents ingrained in me a belief in the city’s basic bargain — that hard-working New Yorkers have a real chance at raising their children into a better life. That has compelled me to advocate for the middle class for 27 years ...”
The full document can be read online at keystothecity.uberflip.com/i/121474.
But are the people of New York still interested in the tainted politician who once was, for many, a hero on Capitol Hill?
An April 19 poll by Quinnipiac University paints a mixed picture. Only 41 percent of voters say he should run for mayor, while 44 percent say he should stay out of it.
Fifteen percent of Democratic primary voters say they would support him for mayor, which doesn’t sound like much, but it puts him at second place among those running, behind only Quinn, who got the support of 28 percent.
Trailing both were Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at 11 percent, former Comptroller Bill Thompson at 10 percent and sitting Comptroller John Liu at 9 percent. One percent said they would vote for someone else, a tiny segment that must include the supporters of longshot Sal Albanese, a former city councilman whose name recognition remains miles behind that of his opponents.
“The Democratic primary for New York City mayor still looks like Council Speaker Christine Quinn versus the guys,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “With his better name recognition, former Congressman Anthony Weiner jumps into the mix at 15 percent. With his negatives, however, the question is whether he can get much higher.”
Carroll noted that Quinn comes in far short of the 40 percent share she would need in the primary to avoid a one-on-one runoff against one of her opponents, which would be like a whole new ballgame. City law mandates the runoff if no one reaches 40 percent in the primary.
Whoever wins on the Democratic side, waiting across the aisle is former deputy mayor and MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, who immediately became the Republican front-runner when he announced his candidacy.