With one YouTube video, Anthony Weiner has altered the landscape of the 2013 New York City mayoral race.
Weiner announced his candidacy for mayor of New York City in a slickly produced video that debuted on YouTube late Tuesday night. In the video, Weiner touts his parents’ background as a typical New York story and discusses the issues he feels plague the city in the present, like the working class being priced out and the lack of jobs that provide a living wage.
Before he was interviewed by other media outlets, Weiner called the AmNews for an exclusive. His first words were that he knows that his recent past could deter people from even considering his platform and ideas, but that isn’t stopping him from running anyway.
“I don’t begrudge citizens wanting to ask about the mistakes I’ve made,” said Weiner to the AmNews. “I have no objections to being asked about my private life, but I hope that they take a look at my ideas and what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the issues facing New York City. I’m gonna be out and about, and I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of organization.”
Weiner reiterated his stance that the middle-class New York he grew up in is dead and gone. “Finding affordable housing has become impossible,” he said. “We’ve replaced middle-class jobs with poverty-level jobs.” The former congressman said that he wanted to be the mayor for “aspirational” New Yorkers who want to make it to the middle class. “I want to be an inclusive mayor,” Weiner said.
The newly declared candidate discussed wanting the Democratic Party to take the back the mantle as the “idea party” with concepts designed to push progressive agendas. He feels that under current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, too much money has come in and “distorted” city politics. As for Bloomberg’s third term, he had this to say: “I was ahead of the game. I tried to deny him his second term.”
In 2011, getting people to vote for him was the least of Weiner’s worries. The congressman’s political career had come to a halt after he was caught sending lewd photos and messages to some of his female followers on the social media network Twitter. After initially claiming that his account was hacked, Weiner eventually confessed and left the House of Representatives.
While Weiner’s announcement has made news around the city, and the country, the current mayoral candidates didn’t seem to care about it. Before a mayoral forum hosted by Crain’s New York Business in Midtown on Wednesday morning, Democratic mayoral candidate and Council Speaker Christine Quinn didn’t even mention his name when asked about his announcement. She talked about her own record instead.
“I don’t care who enters the race. Nobody has a better, stronger, clearer record of delivering for working-class and middle-class New Yorkers than I do,” said Quinn. “Why should I talk about anybody but myself? I’m the one running for mayor here.”
However, Weiner’s presence in the race has all but killed Quinn’s chances of avoiding a runoff.
Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson took a more diplomatic approach to the Weiner news. “I think that former Congressman Weiner can bring some ideas to this discussion, hopefully add to the dialogue that we’re having about New York City and what the next mayor of the city of New York is gonna do,” he said during the forum.
Sal Albanese and current City Comptroller John Liu were blunter in their response to the former congressman entering the race.
“He’s a career politician,” Albanese said.
“Honestly, I won’t be voting for him,” said Liu to a round of laughs.
Current Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio took a swipe at Weiner in a newly published feature in the New York Times. De Blasio accused Weiner of abandoning his outer-borough, working-class roots when he moved from his home in Forest Hills, Queens, to an “elegant” apartment on Park Avenue.
But Weiner believes that the public is ready to forgive him for the humiliating sexting scandal that derailed his congressional career in 2011. On the YouTube video with his wife, Huma Abedin, sitting by his side, he asked the city for a second chance at leadership.
“Look, I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down,” said Weiner. “But I also learned some tough lessons. And I hope to get a second chance from you.”
“We love this city and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony,” said Abedin in the video.
When asked about the other candidates running for mayor, Weiner preferred to hold his tongue until he got his proper footing in the race.
“I grew up in a middle-class New York City environment that has formed who I am,” Weiner told the AmNews. “I haven’t shied away from the big fights even though they were tough ones. There were times during the health care debate in 2009 that other politicians said they had to clear out … that this was a tough issue. And I had 29 town hall meetings.
“We’ll have plenty of chances to compare records,” he said.