Despite the crotch shots circulating the internet and the botched cover-up that forced him to resign from Congress in shame, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner says he believes he can win the mayor’s race.
“Yes,” he told Politicker Wednesday afternoon when asked whether he honestly thinks he can become the city’s next mayor. The comments came in a phone interview hours after Mr. Weiner formally jumped into the race with a video posted on his new mayoral website.
Mr. Weiner argued that, even with a new poll showing that half of the city’s Democrats don’t want him in the race to begin with, the response so far has been overwhelming.
“It’s been pretty remarkable,” he explained. “It’s mostly almost entirely just people calling and writing because they want to be helpful and asking for ways to do it.”
However, Mr. Weiner declined to spell out the calculus that will get him a spot in the expected run-off–where he’d face a tough one-on-one matchup with another Democrat. But he claimed the current crop of candidates were simply lacking.
“I’ll let someone else do the punditry. But I believe that at the end of the day that, as Democrats, if we’re going to prevail, it’s because we understand the struggles of the middle class and those trying to make it,” he said. “The middle class needs someone out there to represent them.”
“I’m going to try to talk about some of the ideas that I have and I’m going to try to take every opportunity I can to present the challenges and how we should be addressing them,” he said, dismissing the theory that he’s running now just to clear the air so he can run seriously again in another four years. He argued voters are hungry for new ideas–and the message he presented in the 2005 race. Echoing the narrative of his campaign video, Mr. Weiner pointed to his experience growing up in Park Slope, Brooklyn at a time when his parents could afford to buy a limestone duplex for $50,000.
“I care about these things very deeply,” he said. “I think New Yorkers are going to respond to the message.”
Furthermore, despite his late entry into the race—after a large chunk of major labor unions and borough brass have endorsed other candidates–he said he doesn’t think his timing puts him at a disadvantage.
“I don’t know if it does,” he said. “I would argue that I was there first,” he said, pointing to his work in Congress and his efforts to stop Mayor Michael Bloomberg from running for a third term in 2009. “As far as the calendar, I think it’s still–for most citizens–fairly early in the process. And I’m going to work hard.”
Mr. Weiner has been slowly hammering together a campaign team, hiring Barbara Morgan, a former spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, whom he described as “a rock star,” as his spokeswoman. He also brought on Lisa Hernandez Gioia, who worked with him previously, as his new finance director.
“We’re in a good place,” he said, ignoring reports that he’s had difficulty attracting top-notch talent. “It’s a very professional team.”