New revelations that former Rep. Anthony Weiner had at least one reckless relationship with a fan that included lewd photos more than a year after he left Congress have dealt a major blow his political comeback bid.
The latest poll by Quinnipiac University showed Weiner, who quickly gained second place with his late entry into the Democratic primary and who was briefly the frontrunner in some polls, slipping to fourth place at 16 percent (from 26 percent). Council Speaker Christine Quinn leads the pack at 27 percent, with two rivals virtually tied for second place — William Thompson and Bill de Blasio, at 20 and 21 percent, respectively. Thompson is the former city comptroller and 2009 Democratic nominee for mayor, and de Blasio is the city’s public advocate.
De Blasio and Quinn benefited from Weiner’s slide, rising from 15 to 21 percent and from 22 to 27 percent, respectively, since the same poll was taken last week. Quinnipiac pollster Mickey Carroll said Monday the only question remaining was whether Weiner would quit or be defeated, but stressed that the race was essentially over for him.
William Helmreich, a City University of New York sociologist and author of “What Was I Thinking: The Dumb Things People Do and How To Avoid Them” (Rowman & Littlefield), agreed that Weiner’s political goose is cooked.
“It has become too embarrassing for people to say they support him,” said Helmreich. He added that he was not terribly surprised to learn of the more recent relationship Weiner had with a woman, Sydney Leathers, 23, which quickly progressed from casual messages to the pol sending lewd photos. Weiner, who is married with a young child, did not deny the reports of the relationship or that he used the nickname Carlos Danger. In an appearance on Howard Stern’s Sirius Radio program Tuesday, Leathers said the relationship involved not just text messages and photos but phone calls, and that when she tried to back away from the relationship he persisted.
“For a person who has such a deep-seated sexual addiction, short-term therapy doesn’t help,” said Helmreich.
“His behavior is so infantile … people will say that we can’t have a person like that in what is arguably the second-most important job in the country.”
In an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, Quinn declined to say whether Weiner should drop out of the race, but said, “We need a mayor with a level of maturity and responsibility.”
Saying Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, the prostitute-patronizing ex-governor now seeking his own redemption in a bid for comptroller, had created a “media circus,” Quinn said, “New Yorkers are smart. They know talk is cheap.” Noting that there was a lot of talk in the race about second chances, Quinn added, “For me the question is, give us a first chance. Let’s have a conversation about the potential” of a first female, openly gay mayor.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Spitzer, when pressed by host Chris Mathews to say that he would not vote for Weiner, eventually said, “That is correct.”
Weiner has faced an onslaught of comment and opinion from the city’s daily newspapers, rivals and elected officials after the new sexting revelations. Fifty-three percent of participants in the Quinnipiac poll said Weiner should give up the race.
Meanwhile, he continues to face questions about the number of women with whom he corresponded or poyentially continues to correspond. And the Daily News raised new questions of why he spent over $45,000 of campaign funds for investigators to seek out the nonexistent hacker he initially said misappropriated his Twitter feed in 2011 when he first fell from grace.
After Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, long a close confidante to and senior employee of Hillary Clinton, subtly raised the Clinton marriage in public comments likening this scandal to the 1998 events that rocked the White House, unnamed sources said to also be close to the Clintons have said they are upset at the comments and are distancing themselves from the New York couple.
ABC News quoted “several former Clinton aides and advisors” as concerned that the matter could be an “embarrassment and potential liability” if the former first lady, senator and secretary of state runs for president in 2016.
Weiner’s campaign, meanwhile, seems determined to forge on to the Sept. 10 primary, even after the resignation of Danny Kedem, who was running the operation.
“Yes, we’re staying in the race,” Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan told The Jewish Week Tuesday morning. Later in the day the campaign released an ad in which he says “quitting isn’t the way we roll in New Yorl City” (see below.)
Morgan did not immediately respond to an e-mail asking how the candidate would assure voters that his online behavior would not continue at City Hall or Gracie Mansion and cause a distraction from issues facing the city should he become mayor.
“I can’t talk to you now,” Morgan told The Jewish Week Tuesday night. Later, the blog Talking Points Memo published remarks Morgan believed were off the record in which she used sexually explicit, derogatory terms to denounce a former campaign intern. The intern, Oilivia Nuzzi,wrote a harsh guest column in The Daily New about her experiences.
Morgan publicly apologized for the remarks about Nuzzi, which she aid were made “in a moment of frustration.”