NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner said he wants a second chance in politics.
In a just released interview in the New York Times Magazine, the former Queens congressman confirms that he’s thinking about a run for mayor.
The article said Weiner’s “political committee spent more than $100,000 on polling and research.” It also said his wife Huma Abedin is starting to think he should run.
He said he doesn’t know when he’ll decide to enter the race. He acknowledged he’d “be the underdog in any race,” adding some people “just don’t have room for a second narrative about me.”
“It won’t be something as pedestrian as ‘Do I think I’ll win?”’ he said. “It will be something more like ‘Does it feel like I should be involved in this debate? Someone should be out there saying A, B or C.”’
Weiner spoke briefly to the media Wednesday after the article went public.
“I don’t have anything more to add than what you read in the New York Times story,” Weiner said. He added he would talk with reporters more next week.
New York Times Magazine contributing writer Jonathan Van Meter was given access to Weiner and his wife for the 8,000-word profile. Van Meter discussed his time with Weiner in an interview with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Wednesday.
“I think he got a lot of advice from some of his friends in politics who said instead of doing a sort of sit on the couch with Barbara Walters, you ought to spend time with a magazine writer who does long-form profiles and let that person get to know you and then let him tell your story,” Van Meter said.
Van Meter also said Weiner provided open access to all aspects of his life. The only topic that was off-the-record was a conversation they had about Weiner’s father, Van Meter said.
“It was remarkable, there was an incredible amount of access. Again, it was part of a strategy on his part,” Van Meter told Scott. “I guess they felt like they had nothing to hide at that point.”
Van Meter said Weiner and his wife both seemed to be in a good place and happy. But Van Meter said he did not get a solid read on why Weiner was exploring a mayoral bid.
“He said to me, ‘I was probably not going to run for Congress again, I didn’t want to be a senator, I’m not interested in Albany.’ The only thing he really wanted to be was the mayor of New York,” said Van Meter.
Van Meter noted that Weiner has about $4.2 million in his campaign fund and there are some matching funds that are set to expire if he does not jump into the mayoral race.
“My sense is that it’s really a personal decision and that’s one of the reasons why he seems so tormented about it is that it comes down to something deeply personal that only he can know and only he can answer,” Van Meter told Scott.
After his hours with Weiner and Abedin, Van Meter said he’s still not sure if the former congressman will, in fact, run for mayor.
“Of all the strange and awkward questions I had to ask him, the ones that he hesitated the longest and the most uncomfortably long pauses before he answered were when I said, ‘how will you know whether you’re going to run or not? What’s the metric for your decision-making process?’ He couldn’t answer me, he would say, ‘I don’t know,'” Van Meter told Scott.
Weiner resigned in June of 2011 in the wake of a Twitter scandal after lewd pictures he sent to at least six women surfaced. That prompted numerous calls from colleagues for the embattled lawmaker to step down.
“I knew when I did it, almost from the moment I did it, there was no good way for it to end,” Weiner told the magazine. “When I sent that fateful tweet.”
Experts have said if Weiner does try to make a political comeback, he might have a better shot if he runs in Brooklyn or Queens because voters there will have first hand knowledge of his record of accomplishments. He represented areas of both boroughs in Congress.
If this a trial balloon, veteran consultant Hank Sheinkopf has some advice.
“Find out what the reaction is. Get people instead of his surrogates to talk about how good this will be, possibly how good he’ll be as mayor,” Sheinkopf told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane. “And he’s got to do the ‘I’m so sorry’ tour and the ‘I’m so sorry tour’ is ‘I know I was an idiot. I did something stupid, but here’s my plan for New York’s future.'”
Sheinkopf did say that Weiner’s trial balloon could just float.
“In the present environment, Anthony Weiner’s crime was one of stupidity. We see public officials being arrested and indicted everyday. It certainly does not hold the same value as that,” Sheinkopf told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.
A major consideration could be $1.5 million in matching public funds if Weiner declares for office by mid-June, adding to $4.5 million in leftover campaign funds.
Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio called Weiner’s mulling over running for mayor a long shot and quixotic at best.
“Clearly the guy’s ambitious. I don’t know what he’s smoking or ingesting or whatever, but bring it on. It just makes it more interesting,” Muzzio told Lamb.
Weiner ran for mayor in 2005 but did not in 2009. Before the scandal, he was considered a potential favorite for this year’s race.
Meanwhile, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows City Council Christine Quinn‘s relentless step-by-step upward movement in the race for the Democratic nomination has stalled.
“She’s still way ahead, 32 percent for Quinn, 14 for de Blasio, 13 for Thompson, and 7 for Liu,” the poll’s Maurice Carroll told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “But whereas Christine Quinn and the Quinnipiac numbers had moved up three, four points month by month by month, this time she stopped.”
On the GOP side, former MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota leads the field at 23 percent.
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