Anthony Weiner, the former New York Democratic congressman who resigned amidst a sexual scandal, has re-emerged on the New York City political scene as a potential mayoral candidate – but experts are cautioning his bid is a long shot.
"I don't see a path for him to win," says George Arzt, former journalist and press secretary to former Mayor Edward Koch. "You never say never in politics and anything can happen, but most people believe Anthony Weiner will enter the race and will not win."
Weiner stepped down in 2011 following revelations he sent lewd pictures and engaged in sexual conversations with several young women over the course of three years including during his marriage. Weiner is married to former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who was pregnant at the time the scandal broke. He initially denied the allegations after they came to light when he accidentally tweeted a picture of himself meant for a young woman to all his 45,000 followers.
Arzt says the decision for Weiner to get in will be consequential, not just because of the political implications.
"It's hard to put your family through this, because you know it's coming," he says. "I don't know when the tabloids are going to run out of puns on his actions and his name."
The Democratic field is already crowded, with six declared candidates seeking to replace current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent. They are led by Christine Quinn, the outspoken New York city council speaker from Manhattan who is also a lesbian.
"Her get-it-done-by-any-means style holds a distinct appeal in the post-partisan age of Bloomberg," writes The New York Times in their overview of her candidacy. "But the real risk, as she strains to be a palatable candidate to big business, labor unions and the billionaire mayor, is that New Yorkers will have no idea what she stands for."
Other Democratic candidates include Sal Albanese, a former city councilman; Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate; John Liu, the city comptroller; Erick J. Salgado, a minister; and William Thompson Jr., a former city comptroller.
Weiner does have skills that could put him in play if he does jump in, Arzt says, but the deck is still stacked against him.
"The thing in his corner is that he's a very good debater and so far the field has been sort of lackluster," he says. "But I just don't see Weiner as a possibility for elected office at this time."
A recent poll showed Weiner garnering 15 percent of the vote, though he remains unpopular with voters. Quinn led the field with 28 percent support, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University.
"The Democratic primary for New York City mayor still looks like Council Speaker Christine Quinn versus the guys," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release accompanying the poll results. "With his better name recognition, former congressman Anthony Weiner jumps into the mix at 15 percent. With his negatives, however, the question is whether he can get much higher."
But Weiner's entrée could carry consequences for Quinn even if he doesn't pose a threat to defeat her. The top two primary vote getters will face each other in a run-off if no one garners 40 percent of the vote.
"The two people in the run-off are likely to be Bill Thompson and Christine Quinn," says Arzt. "Let's say by some miracle he gets into the run-off. I would call that a major victory."
Arzt says it seems like Weiner's agenda isn't to win the contest, but rather rehabilitate his image and re-launch himself on the political stage.
"I don't believe that Weiner is really going for anything except to get back into mainstream; he's been a pariah for so long," he says. "[His goal] might not even necessarily be politics, but maybe as a talking head in the future – maybe radio or television."
The primary election is scheduled for September 10.
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