Hey, if Mark Sanford can find redemption at the polls after having an affair, why can’t Anthony Weiner after, er, exposing himself? Let the campaign of a thousand double entendres begin! Weiner inexplicably provides the first in his video, talking about the plight of the middle class and the lack of traditional upward mobility — saying that “it’s getting harder and harder every day.” No, I’m not kidding:
Difficult, Anthony, difficult. Someone get this man a thesaurus, please.
Nonetheless, Weiner is finding some sympathy for his big comeback. According to a new poll in the Big Apple from Quinnipiac, Weiner enters the race in second place behind Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary — but with only 15% in a crowded field:
Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner formally unveiled his campaign to become New York City’s mayor late on Tuesday, and just a few hours later, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Weiner remains in second place in September’s Democratic primary following his six-week trial balloon. With Christine Quinn‘s standing in the primary continuing to slip, according to the poll, the City Council speaker edges closer to losing her early frontrunner status, and the race is wide open.
Quinn leads Weiner, 25 percent to 15 percent, the poll shows. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, the party’s 2009 nominee, are tied for third place, each earning 10 percent of the vote. John Liu, the current comptroller, is at 6 percent, and former Councilman Sal Albanese is at 2 percent. More than one in four voters, 27 percent, are undecided.
In the previous poll, conducted about a month ago, Quinn led Weiner, 28 percent to 15 percent.But while the change in Quinn’s vote share is within the margin of error, she has slipped significantly on another important measure. Asked whether they approve of the way she is handling her job as Council speaker, 59 percent of Democrats say they do, while 30 percent disapprove. In early April, 68 percent of Democratic voters approved of Quinn’s job performance, compared to only 14 percent who disapprove.
In order to avoid a runoff, the Democrats have to give 40% of the vote to one candidate in the first round, and that looks less and less likely. Weiner’s entry into the race will almost ensure that Democrats have to endure two rounds of voting, which may not make Weiner very popular, either. That 15% so far looks like a ceiling rather than a floor, as Quinn’s erosion hasn’t improved Weiner’s standing at all.
And why should it? At least with Sanford, an argument could be made that his affair was a private matter (although his disappearance from office and ethics violation were certainly not). Weiner took photos of his genitalia and published them, inadvertently or not, to women other than his wife. That’s the kind of behavior that we’d expect people to give up as teenagers, not indulge as members of Congress. Weiner then tried to lie about it and issue accusations about the motives of his critics, and only admitted it when his lies and denials were no longer sustainable. Is that the kind of accountability that voters want in New York City?
It’s entirely possible that Weiner has redeemed himself and truly repented of his actions; I hope that he has, for his own sake and for his family. That doesn’t mean that voters owe Weiner a position of responsibility, just as they didn’t owe one to Sanford, either. Voters never did get an opportunity to hold Weiner accountable for his actions — but they certainly do now. If the Big Apple cannot find a candidate with a better track record on trust and judgment to lead America’s biggest city, then that will be a bigger joke than anything we’ll hear in this season of double entendres.