Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner told The New York Times this week that he was considering jumping into the race to succeed Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City. It is an obvious trial balloon, to assess whether the public is prepared to forgive his public lies after inadvertently tweeting scandalous photos of himself. While his campaign would be a boon to late-night comics, one key group, his former colleagues in the NY Congressional delegation seem cool to the idea.
“I’m really surprised. That’s all I can say,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), dean of the New York congressional delegation told The Hill. “It’s just a surprise for me to hear that Anthony Weiner was interested in running for any citywide office.”
Weiner, if he runs would be joining a crowded field. There are four top Democrat contenders and all of them have held city-wide office. Weiner would have a fundraising edge, however. He still has $4.3 million in a campaign account left over from an aborted run for mayor in 2009. He would also be eligible for $1.5 million in public matching funds if he ran.
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who is Chair of the Queens Democrat party seems to think Weiner’s move is premature. “I don’t know if this is necessarily the time right now.”
Two other close Weiner allies in the delegation were also coy about the prospects of him running. “He’s a great guy and a great friend. I’ve already endorsed Christine Quinn,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) (D-N.Y.) told The Hill. Quinn is Speaker of the NY City Council and presumptive frontrunner.
“It’s kind of hard to say because he’s entering so late,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said when asked about a possible endorsement of Weiner. “I’ve kind of begun to fix my sights on the field that currently exists.”
Weiner didn’t have to resign from Congress because he tweeted provocative pictures of himself. He had to resign because, when the pictures were exposed by Andrew Breitbart, he publicly, and repeatedly, lied about it to both the press and his constituents. He also suggested that his account had been hacked, leading his allies in the media to smear Breitbart in a lie.
Members of the NY delegation were close to Weiner when he served in Congress. If they are cool to his political comeback attempt, the rest of New Yorkers probably aren’t far behind.