NEW YORK (AP) — Anthony Weiner's run for a renaissance is officially on.
The ex-congressman whose career imploded in a rash of raunchy tweets two years ago said in a YouTube video announcement late Tuesday that he's in the New York City mayoral race. He'd said last month he was considering it.
"I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," he said in the video. "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."
With that, Weiner is embarking on an audacious comeback quest, hoping to go from punchline pol whose tweeted crotch shot was emblazoned on the nation's consciousness to leader of America's biggest city.
The Democrat is jumping into a crowded field for September's primary. He's arriving with some significant advantages, including a $4.8 million campaign war chest, the possibility of about $1.5 million more in public matching money, polls showing him ahead of all but one other Democrat — and no end of name recognition. His participation makes a runoff more likely, and many political observers feel he could at least get to the second round.
But Weiner has continued to contend with questions about his character and the scandal that sank his career just two years ago.
After a photo of a man's bulging, underwear-clad groin appeared on his Twitter account in 2011, he initially claimed his account had been hacked. After more photos emerged, the married congressman eventually owned up to exchanging racy messages with several women, saying he had never met any of them. He soon resigned.
In seeking a second chance, Weiner will have to overcome some voters' misgivings; in a recent NBC New York-Marist Poll poll, half said they wouldn't even consider him. He can expect opponents to hammer at his prevaricating past, and he said in a recent interview on the RNN cable network that he couldn't guarantee that no more pictures or people would emerge.
Weiner has taken a series of steps recently to rehab his image and reintroduce himself, including a lengthy magazine profile and a series of local TV interviews. He hasn't responded to interview requests from The Associated Press.
He also has released a platform of sorts, a list of ideas styled as a blueprint for helping the city's middle class thrive. The suggestions, some of them updates from a mayoral run he nearly made in 2009, range from giving every public school student a Kindle reader to using Medicaid money to create a city-run, single-payer health system for the uninsured.
"Anybody who underestimates Anthony Weiner's ambition is a fool. And anybody who underestimates his ability as a candidate is a fool," says retired Hunter College political science professor Kenneth Sherrill. But "we're going to see, basically, if Weiner can take hits as well as he can dish them out."
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