Weiner tries comback with mayor race entry

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

Former Forest Hills U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner officially kicked off his quest for Gracie Mansion with a video announcement posted on YouTube late Tuesday.

The scandal-scarred politician takes on the city’s mayoral campaign close to two years after resigning from Congress in 2011 when it was revealed he posted a lewd photo of himself on Twitter. He later admitted to sending inappropriate online messages to six women.

Weiner addresses the scandal directly in the campaign video, making an appeal to the public for a second chance in office.

“Look, I made some big mistakes. And I know I let a lot of people down. But I’ve also learned some tough lessons. I’m running for mayor because I’ve 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 said in the video.

But not everyone thinks the ex-congressman deserves that second chance. City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) released a statement Wednesday roasting Weiner for his actions and demanding he call off his mayoral campaign.

“I believe his entry in the race would be a terrible distraction from the important issues that should be discussed in this campaign and from candidates who actually are qualified to be mayor,” said Gennaro, who also contended Weiner lacked the qualifications to be mayor. “First, I believe for any mayor to be effective he or she must possess good judgment. In my opinion, his actions in 2011 show terribly poor judgment — to say the least.”

But the idea of Weiner as mayor might not be a far-fetched notion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. The poll revealed the former congressman ranks second among Democratic candidates running for mayor.

According to the poll, Weiner received the support of 15 percent of Democratic voters, placing him in second place after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), the current front-runner.

But gaining back the trust of voters will be tough, according to Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Carroll said 49 percent of voters said Weiner should not run for office.

“Should Weiner run? More, especially women, say no,” Carroll said.

Carroll also said the addition of Weiner to the race could result in a runoff, as it would be difficult for any candidate to reach the magic 40-percent number needed to avoid a second round of voting.

But now that he is officially in the running, Weiner might be viewed as a strong contender since he has close to $4.5 million in his campaign war chest, according to the city Campaign Finance Board. He was considered a strong possible contender for City Hall before the Twitter episode erupted.

Weiner’s viral re-emergence also featured his wife, Huma Abedin, as well as his infant son. The video closes with Abedin, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, sitting with her husband on a stoop and saying, “We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”

The former congressman launched a new Twitter handle last month, @anthonyweiner, and tweeted a link to a pamphlet outlining his “Keys to the City” with “64 Ideas to Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class.”

He refers to that pamphlet in his campaign video, stating “New York City should be the middle-class capital of the world and I’ve got some ideas on how to do it — 64 of them.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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