'I learned some tough lessons': Disgraced Anthony Weiner joins race for New York mayor
Former congressman resigned following 'sexting' scandal in 2011
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Two years after Anthony Weiner’s political career was undone by revelations that he had been sending lewd pictures of himself to women on Twitter, the former Congressman has announced a bid to return to public life by running in the race to succeed Michael Bloomberg as the Mayor of New York.
A YouTube video complete with soft music, shots depicting Mr Weiner as a devoted family man and lamentations of how New Yorkers were finding life “harder and harder everyday” confirmed the 48 year-old’s intention of following in the footsteps of other fallen politicians by seeking “a second chance.”
“Look, I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down. But I’ve also learned some tough lessons,” he said, seeding a campaign that promises to disrupt the Democratic field ahead of the November poll.
It will be a tough sell. In 2011, Mr Weiner spent several days denying that he had used his Twitter account to send a picture of his crotch (clad in underwear) to a Seattle college student.
In one interview with the New York Times, even as he claimed that his account had been hacked, he skirted around the question of the provenance of the image, saying: “I can’t say with certainty very much about where the photograph came from.”
The lies collapsed at a 6 June press conference where an emotional Mr Weiner admitted to inappropriate online exchanges with a series of women and apologised to his wife of less than a year, Huma Abedin, a long-time aide and close confidante of the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years,” he said.
Ten days later, on 11 June, at another press conference where hecklers yelled “pervert” as he spoke, Mr Weiner said he would abandon his seven term Congressional career. The resignation also seemed to have put to rest his ambitions of running for New York’s Mayor.
Now, as he attempts to revive his career by going after a job that he had aspired to for years, he is armed with what is reported to be a campaign war chest of $5m (£3.3m). The current Democratic field is populated by relative unknowns, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn considered the frontrunner. Mr Bloomberg, the billionaire who was first elected Mayor in November 2001, is barred from running again after completing his third term this year.
In his video, which first appeared prematurely appeared online overnight on Wednesday and then was officially released in a morning email from the candidate, Mr Weiner portrays himself as a champion of the middle class. Images of the former Congressman with Ms Abedin - who is expected to be by Ms Clinton’s side if she makes another bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016 - and their young child, give way to a summary of Mr Wiener’s roots in Brooklyn.
Things were different then, he suggests, before turning to how he says they’ve changed: sky-high rents across the city, deteriorating schools, business burdened by regulations. “It doesn’t have to be that way,” he says, highlighting his achievements in Congress. The pitch ends with an endorsement from Ms Abedin, who, sitting beside her husband, says: “No one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
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