By Edith Honan
NEW YORK, April 10 The race to succeed New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could receive an added dose of
intrigue with former Congressman Anthony Weiner considering a
run for office two years after he stepped away from politics in
a scandal over lewd pictures.
Weiner, who has a sizable campaign war chest and strong name
recognition across the city, could pose a formidable challenge
to current front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn,
who would be the city's first female and first lesbian mayor.
"You're talking about a city where anything can happen at
any time and generally does," Democratic consultant Hank
Sheinkopf said. "The conventional wisdom is the field is weak."
Sheinkopf also said it would be hard for Weiner to win City
Hall, but that a bid could open other political doors, including
a possible run for city comptroller.
"This is a trial balloon. And if trial balloons don't go up,
they burst and they create opportunities," he said.
In a lengthy interview with The New York Times magazine,
posted online on Wednesday, Weiner said that, after spending
$100,000 on polling, he had concluded that voters might be
willing to give him a second chance.
"I don't have this burning, overriding desire to go out and
run for office," said Weiner, a Democrat who was once considered
an early front-runner in the race. "It's not the single
animating force in my life as it was for quite some time. But I
do recognize, to some degree, it's now or maybe never for me, in
terms of running for something."
The news could shake up the mayor's race five months before
the Sept. 10 primary election. While City Council Speaker
Christine Quinn has held a commanding lead in public opinion
polls for the Democratic primary, political experts have said in
recent days the race remains wide open.
Once seen as a rising star among Democrats, Weiner, 48,
established himself as a leading liberal voice in the U.S. House
of Representatives and was considered a front-runner for mayor
until his fall from grace.
He was known for making fiery speeches on the House floor on
issues including expanding healthcare access and aiding first
responders to the Sept. 11 attacks who suffered health
consequences. Weiner, who resigned from Congress in June 2011
before completing his seventh term, had made an unsuccessful run
for mayor in 2005.
His downfall came quickly in 2011 after he accidentally
posted a lewd photograph of himself on Twitter. The married
politician had intended it only for a woman with whom he had
been sharing messages.
After first insisting his Twitter account had been hacked,
transcripts of other sexually charged communications with women
were made public. Weiner admitted his transgression and
LITTLE STAR POWER
Insiders have bemoaned the lack of star wattage from
candidates in both political parties to follow Bloomberg, an
independent who is nearing the end of his third and final term
Both Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman whose initial bid
for mayor marked his first foray into politics, and his
predecessor Rudolph Giuliani became national figures after
taking the office.
"This is a race that hasn't happened yet," said Lee
Miringoff of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. "The
voters aren't clamoring for anything yet."
Bloomberg's failure to endorse any of the current candidates
has contributed to the sense that the race for mayor has yet to
excite average voters.
Bruce Berg, a professor of political science at Fordham
University, questioned whether there was room for Weiner.
"Obviously, it's a very crowded race, and there are credible
candidates on both sides," Berg said. "It is still Christine
Quinn's race to lose."
A survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute,
released on Wednesday, found Quinn leading the Democratic field
with 32 percent, down five points from Quinnipiac's February
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio follows with 14 percent.
Former City Comptroller William Thompson, who lost to Bloomberg
four years ago, is supported by 13 percent of voters, and 7
percent back current comptroller John Liu.
Weiner was not included in the poll.
On the Republican side, more than half of voters are
undecided. Joseph Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority, leads the field with 23 percent,
though nearly two-thirds of voters say they had not heard enough
about him to form a view. George McDonald, founder of the Doe
Fund, a non-profit that helps the formerly homeless, followed at
11 percent, and businessman John Catsimatidis has the backing of