Weiner scandal shakes up 2013 mayoral race
Jun 14, 2011 | 2424 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anthony Weiner's sex scandal may be the best thing that ever happened to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Or, depending on which way you slice the electoral map, to the handful of other ambitious officials who are recalculating their odds of winning City Hall now that a potential Democratic frontrunner has Tweeted himself into oblivion.

Assuming Weiner doesn't attempt an Eliot Spitzer-sized comeback, the 2013 mayoral race is now more wide open than ever before. Weiner's likely absence provides a measure of breathing room for the presumed favorites - City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former Comptroller William Thompson and de Blasio.

And it also opens a window of opportunity for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who is suddenly considering a run, and perhaps other top city officials who previously thought the field was too crowded with big-name personalities.

It's safe to assume that nobody relished the challenge of facing Weiner in a primary.

His image of an aggressive, fast-talking firebrand didn't take hold overnight. Weiner, who was obsessed with being mayor - it is the one job he always said was better than his own - spent years cultivating the personality he figured was necessary to endear him to millions of voters.

Though he rubbed some people the wrong way, in the past few years it's clear his strategy based on media savvy and an insane work ethic was beginning to show signs of success. He held no real power in Congress, but was developing a reputation as a “rising leader” in the Democratic Party, for both his role in the health care debate and his outspoken attacks against his Republican colleagues.

When he ran for mayor in 2005, Weiner was hardly a household name in New York City. At the beginning of 2011, in the months before he became a nationwide joke, Weiner already enjoyed skyrocketing name recognition, especially in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, where he enjoyed a reputation for being an unusually effective elected official with an encyclopedic knowledge of neighborhood issues. Plus, the guy could debate with the best of them.

Without serious union support, which he would not have received, Weiner would have struggled to raise as much money as Quinn, who is leading the pack in fundraising, or even Stringer, who is nearing the $2 million mark. Still, it is hard to imagine either of them - or anyone, really - escaping a toe-to-toe match-up with Weiner unscathed.

What is less certain is who emerges from all this as the clear winner, and who will be able to pick up Weiner's predominantly white, predominantly liberal (though increasingly conservative-leaning) base of support. At the very least, his scandal has put an early charge into the race for City Hall. And who knows? Perhaps Weiner will surprise everyone by running for mayor anyway.

You can't put it past him.

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