Now, take that wide open race and throw into the middle of it a candidate with $5 million worth of campaign funds with which to advertise and build a GOTV operation. Incredibly, Weiner enters the race with the second largest campaign account because of money held over from previous campaigns – thus avoiding the fate of other banished politicians who encounter trouble raising funds for their comeback tours (remember Mark Sanford chose to run not for Governor this year, but local congressman, a race requiring far fewer resources).
The next asset Weiner brings to the race may be the most appreciated, and that’s his zeal and effectiveness as a campaigner. While some observers seem committed to a narrative that Weiner’s campaigning has been nothing but a “circus-like” sideshow, the reality has been something different. It’s been only a week or so since he’s entered the race, but by most accounts he’s thus far dealt with the inevitable questions about his scandal with skill, and engaged voters successfully. This should surprise no one who’s watched Weiner perform in the past. He’s a natural campaigner, who relishes crowds – and like a good standup comic, enjoys taking on hecklers and skeptics. That he might be able to persuade voters unimpressed with other candidates, to give him a second chance, has not occurred to many of his critics, but it should — he’s the happiest glad-handler in the field.
Of course, there are also some real challenges to this candidacy (beyond Weiner’s complicated record, which I’ve previously discussed here). The question is: will they be as insurmountable as the conventional wisdom says?