Weiner Speaks Out On Scandal, Wants ‘Second Chance’ In Politics
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Weiner Speaks Out On Scandal, Wants ‘Second Chance’ In Politics

Former congressman Anthony Weiner, who represented one of the most heavily Jewish districts in the nation before his fall from grace, is still considering a run in this year’s Democratic primary for mayor, he told The New York Times Magazine in Sunday’s edition.

“I think to some degree I do want to say to them, ‘Give me another chance,” “ said Weiner, referring to voters.

The current field of Democrats and Republicans makes this the first election year in two decades without a Jewish candidate. Weiner last run for mayor in 2005, coming in second place out of four candidates in the Democratic primary after then-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

This year Weiner would face the speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, former comptroller William Thompson (the 2009 nominee) and former Councilman Sal Albanese should he enter the primary.

In his his most extensive public comments since his humiliating resignation in June, 2011, after admitting he sent explicit photos to women via Twitter, Weiner also said “I don’t have this burning, overriding desire to go out and run for office. It’s not the single animating force in my life as it was for quite some time. But I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something.”

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Weiner, who served a Brooklyn and Queens House district from 1998-2011, is sitting on a campaign war chest of $4.3 million and will lose more than $1 million in New York City matching funds if he does not run for office this year.

Addressing the damage done to his public image and his marriage to Huma Abedin in an extensive interview with the Magazine’s Jonathan Van Meter that often sounded like a therapy session, Weiner said “No one deserved to have a dope like me do that less than she did.”

Abedin, who was a top aide to Hillary Rodham Cinton when she was first lady and secretary of state, told Van Meter that she relied on the counsel of friends and family in the scandal’s aftermath. “There was a deep love there, but it was coupled with a tremendous feeling of betrayal,” she said. “It took a lot of work, both mentally and in the way we engage with each other, for me to get to a place where I said: ‘O.K., I’m in. I’m staying in this marriage.’ “

Weiner blamed that scandal that drove him from office on “my last name; the fact that I was this combative congressman; the fact that there were pictures involved; the fact that it was a slow news period; the fact that I was an idiot about it; the fact that, while I was still lying about it, I dug myself in deeper by getting beefy with every reporter. “

In a week of awkward interviews, Weiner at first said his Twitter account, which had more than 45,000 followers, had been hacked, but as questions persisted and he refused to definitively say a photo of a man’s crotch was not of him, he later admitted the social media indiscretions and, under pressure from congressional leaders and President Barack Obama, resigned his seat.

Weiner has commissioned pollster David Binder to assess his impact on the crowded political field and has not released the results, but told the magazine “David said I’d be the underdog in any race I ran.”

Weiner said he would assess the campaign as it progresses to see if any of the current candidates for mayor address issues that concern him. He did not rule out a bid for other offices, except public advocate, saying a loss in that race seemed to rule out a further political career.

Weiner in an email message to The Jewish Week declined immediate comment.

Baruch political science Professor Douglas Muzzio said City Hall was a long shot but not a pipe dream for Weiner. “The impossible often happens in politics,” he said. “He has a shot, but probably not this year.”

Muzzio said Weiner, who now lives in Manhattan, would appeal well to outer borough voters in Brooklyn and Queens. “He has proven that white ethnic homeowners and the black middle class in those areas may be a base for him,” said Muzzio.

adam@jewishweek.org

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