Weiner undecided on mayor run

By Anna Gustafson

Although U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) has raised millions for his mayoral campaign and has insisted for months that he is a contender in the 2009 race, the congressman sent a letter to supporters last week saying he would not decide whether to run until late this spring.

Weiner, who has raised $6.6 million for the mayoral contest, sought in the March 11 letter to assure donors and supporters that his relative silence in the campaign is nothing less than an attempt to work on national financial problems.

“Over the next months, the task of uplifting our nation and our city out of the worst economic turmoil in 70 years will be, and I hope you agree, should be my top priority,” Weiner wrote in the letter. “So you won’t see me holding campaign rallies. You won’t see me knocking on doors asking for votes.”

“At the beginning of the summer, when Congress takes a break, I will look at the lay of the land again and try to determine the best political course,” he added.

Weiner is a six−term congressman who represents the Ninth Council District, which includes Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Rockaway Beach, Woodhaven and parts of Brooklyn. The representative has consistently said in public that he planned to run for mayor, including last fall while speaking to a Forest Hills High School government class and at a Citizens Union breakfast in January.

Democratic consultant George Arzt said he believes Weiner will bow out of the race. He contended Weiner has little chance of winning against Bloomberg, a billionaire who could far outspend the congressman.

“He wanted to gracefully get out of the mayoral race,” Arzt said. “He wanted to say he’s not being driven out of the race because he’s trailing in the polls, and he wanted to say he’s doing something important with the stimulus bill.”

Arzt said he expects little political fallout if Weiner does leave the race, and said the coverage Weiner has received could give him a name recognition boost should he decide to run for mayor in four years.

Michael Krasner, a Queens College political science professor who teaches a course about electing the city’s mayor, said he also expects Weiner to pull out of the race and run again the next time around.

“I don’t think it does him a lot of harm,” Krasner said of Weiner’s potential exit. “People recognize Bloomberg is a powerful force and has vacuumed up a number of Democratic consultants.”

A Quinnipiac poll released in late February had Bloomberg defeating Weiner by 48 percent to 36 percent. In the poll, Bloomberg defeats Thompson 50 percent to 33 percent. Fifty−five percent of those polled said they do not know enough about Weiner.

Weiner, however, insisted that his lack of campaigning is not synonymous with dropping out of the race.

Though Weiner could have forced a runoff between himself and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer in the Democratic primary in the 2005 mayoral race, he withdrew. His withdrawl and consequent endorsement of Ferrer garnered the Congressman praise.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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