Former Democratic New York Congressman Anthony Weiner officially entered the race for New York City mayor Wednesday, announcing his candidacy in a video on his website. Weiner resigned from Congress two years ago following the revelation that he had sent inappropriate photos of himself to young women via Twitter.
Weiner will face an uphill battle to reshape his image and convince New Yorkers that he is the right man for the job. After initially denying it, the former congressman openly admitted to sending a series of explicit photos to several different women and stepped down from Congress. His wife, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton, was pregnant with their son at the time. Both wife and son appear in his campaign video.
In his video announcement, Weiner acknowledged his past transgressions:
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.
Weiner said New York City should be "the middle class capital of the world" and highlighted the challenges faced by the city in education, affordable housing and employment.
Weiner will face, among others, current New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary in September. Quinn is currently ahead of Weiner in polls. The speaker is close to current Independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who is unable to seek reelection due to term limits), but he has not publicly endorsed her. Sources close to the current mayor say he privately supports her candidacy.
One candidate must receive more than 50 percent of votes to avoid a runoff. Other prominent Democratic candidates include New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and city Comptroller John Liu.
The Washington Post's Chris Cilliza says that although Weiner is well-known and has ample funds to run a campaign, the former congressman most certainly knows he can't overcome his tarnished reputation to win. But he says this doesn't mean his candidacy won't have an effect:
The other obvious impact of Weiner's candidacy – and we strongly suspect this is why he is really running – is to wash himself clean in the eyes of the electorate. As in, this bid is less about Weiner winning (he is smart enough politically to know it's a major long shot) than about him withstanding all of the bad stories, punny headlines and ridicule so that when he runs again for office (and he will run again) he can say: "Look, we covered all of this ground in 2013."
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