In a move that surprised few since his recent re-emergence in the media, Anthony Weiner officially launched his bid for New York City mayor Wednesday.
The former congressman who was forced to resign after sending lewd pictures to young women has largely remained under the radar since he stepped down in 2011.
Weiner, clearly conscientious of the image he has to overcome, began his mayoral campaign by posting a two-minute video on his website that paints him as a family man. His wife, Huma Abedin, and his child – with whom she was pregnant with during the scandal – are prominently featured. Abedin is a former aide to Hillary Clinton.
"Look, I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I've also learned some tough lessons," Weiner says in the campaign spot. "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."
A new poll shows Weiner trailing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for the Democratic nomination. Quinn is polling at 25 percent, Weiner at 15 percent. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller William Thompson garner 10 percent each, Comptroller John Liu received 6 percent support and about 27 percent of voters say they are undecided, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
In order to win the Democratic nomination, a candidate must cross a 50 percent vote threshold in the primary. If that is not met, the two candidates who receive the most votes will face each other in a run-off election.
"With former Congressman Anthony Weiner seeking the Democratic nod, it still looks like Council Speaker Christine Quinn against the guys," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a memo accompanying the poll results.
"But where she once was brushing up against the magic 40 percent number that could get her past a run-off, the wear and tear of the campaign, and possibly the addition of Weiner, are taking a toll on the front-runner," he said. "This poll says there's a run-off. It just doesn't say who's in the run-off."
Weiner's chances for convincing voters that he's worthy of their support will depend on how effectively he copes with his past transgressions, says Lewis Glinert, a linguistics professor at Dartmouth College.
"His use of 'mistakes' is him trying to come across as a straight guy, a simple guy – a bit like Bill Clinton's model – so it sounds like you really are contrite," he says.
But Glinert says that word also comes with risk.
"The word 'mistake' is a whitewash," he says. "People who are a little bit more thoughtful or cynical would say, 'Are you trying to whitewash something which you knowingly did?'"
Weiner is expected to be well-funded, but a fat target for the lascivious New York tabloids who are not likely to let his past remain buried. They'll also be on the hunt for hints of any further scandal beyond what he's already disclosed, a revelation that would surely sink Weiner's mayoral chances.
George Arzt, former journalist and press secretary to former NYC mayor Edward Koch, called Weiner's midnight video announcement "cowardly."
"What is he going to do? Keep away from the press?" he says. "De Blasio, who was most hurt by his entry, will go after him in a debate. He and de Blasio have overlapping constituencies to a great extent, so de Blasio has to go after him."
Arzt says Weiner's entry guarantees Quinn, the frontrunner, will face a run-off, but taps Thompson as the most likely to be her opponent.
"Weiner's 15 percent is name recognition and I don't see where he grows; he's an obnoxious guy," he says.