Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has officially joined the race for New York City mayor, launching his campaign with a YouTube video designed to position the Queens/Brooklyn Democrat as the candidate of the middle class.
Weiner, who sparked a media circus in 2011 when he resigned his House seat after admitting that he sent inappropriate photos of himself to women on Twitter, indirectly acknowledges the scandal in the video. “Look, I made some big mistakes. And I know I let a lot of people down,” he says. “But I’ve also learned some tough lessons.”
“I am running for mayor because I have been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life, and I hope I get a second chance to work for you,” he adds.
The ad also highlights Weiner’s past efforts to secure “real health care reform,” benefits for 9/11 first responders, and funding for the New York City Police Department, in an attempt to redefine a congressional tenure that is better remembered for explosive rhetoric than tangible results.
Weiner — who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2005 and led the polls in 2009 before deciding to return to Congress — joins a crowded field for the Democratic nomination. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is widely favored to take first place in the September 10th Democratic primary, although she is unlikely to achieve the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff with the second-place finisher. Weiner joins Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former comptroller Bill Thompson, and current comptroller John Liu as a strong contender for second.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds Weiner in position to make the runoff; Quinn leads in the poll with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Weiner at 15 percent, Thompson and de Blasio at 10 percent, and Liu at 6 percent.
Still, despite Weiner’s strong opening position, the poll contains several warning signs for the former congressman’s candidacy — 49 percent of voters say that Weiner should not run for mayor, compared to just 38 percent who say he should join the race; that number is down a net 8 percent from April, when 41 percent said Weiner should run and 44 percent said he should not.
Additionally, while 15 percent is good enough to put Weiner in second place in May, he may have very little room to grow. A Marist College poll released in April found Weiner’s name recognition at 85 percent, significantly higher than any of his rivals for the nomination. As a result, de Blasio, Thompson, and Liu will have a far greater opportunity to redefine themselves with voters.
Weiner does have one major advantage, however; he has over $4 million left over from his previous mayoral campaign, which he is free to spend in the 2013 race.