Former congressman Anthony Weiner formally ended his highly theatrical bid for a political comeback Tuesday night, saying he was proud of his campaign for the Democratic mayoral nomination and would work to end the “24-year slump” that has kept his party out of City Hall’s executive office.
“We didn’t win this time, but I could not be more proud of the campaign we ran,” Weiner said. “We never backed down and we never ducked.”
Notably, Weiner made his announcement without his wife, Huma Abedin, who had earlier stood by his side when he launched his campaign and later when he endured new revelations about his explicit relationships with other women.
Weiner, who had millions raised from before the scandal, refused to bow out of the race after the new revelations, even as his poll numbers plummeted. In the final Democratic debate last week, Weiner called himself “an imperfect messenger for the best ideas in the campaign.” All along, he has said he entered the race because issues he cared about were not being addressed.
Weiner’s strong showing in the 2005 Democratuc mayoral primary, earning a spot in a runoff with Fernando Ferrer, then the Bronx borough president, positioned him as a strong contender for future races, especially after he conceded to Ferrer for the sake of party unity. But Weiner declined to run against Michael Bloomberg in 2009 and his social media meltdown two years later sent him to political exile.
Jewish candidates usually fare well in citywide Democratic races, as in the case of Mark Green, the 2001 Democratic nominee; Ruth Messinger, the 1997 nominee and Ed Koch, who won the nomination for mayor in 1977, and was re-elected twice. Indeed, Weiner quickly went to second place after his late entry in the primary and was briefly the frontrunner, arguing that his past mistakes shouldn’t negate his ideas for the city’s future.
But the stormy campaign ended with some of the same eccentric drama that surrounded his attempt to overcome the humiliating sexting scandal — a testy exchange with Laurence O’Donell on MSNBC in the final hours, and a surprise, unwelcome appearance at what he hoped would be his victory party by the woman at the center of his most recent scandal.
Sydney Leathers, who had an online and telephone relationship with Weiner after his resignation from Congress in 2011, showed up at Connolly’s bar in Midtown hoping to meet him for the first time, but Weiner’s staff made sure the two never met.
“He needs to stop being an emabrassment to the city of New York,” Leathers told reporters. “He should have dropped out a long time ago.”
In his concession speech around 10:40 p.m., Weiner said he had called Bill de Blasio and William Thompson, Jr., to congratulate them, as well as Christine Quinn “just in case.” As of 1 a.m., with 97 percent of precincts reporting, de Blasio had 40.2 percent of the vote, on the cusp of clinching the Democratic nomination without a runoff. Thompson had 26 percent, Quinn 15 percent and John Liu 7.7 percent.
Weiner was at just 5.1 percent.