From Redistricting to Resigning, Pressure Mounts on Weiner

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rep. Anthony Weiner Rep. Anthony Weiner (Win McNamee/Getty)

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Colin Campbell, City Hall News reporter and blogger at The Brooklyn, and New York Observer reporter, Azi Paybarah, look at the politics, national and local, around the continuing Anthony Weiner scandal.

Elected officials, including Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, have been calling for the resignation of Congressman Anthony Weiner following the revelation that he conducted online affairs with multiple women while married, then lied to cover it up. Yet among his constituency there seems more ambivalence, and seem much more in favor of letting the constituents of Weiner’s Brooklyn and Queens district decide with their votes in the next election. 

An Amazing Silence

Campbell says the local political climate of some of the national politicians calling for Weiner's resignation explains why they might want to take that decision away from the voters. Pennsylvania, which Rep. Schwartz represents, has a large white working class constituency.

It’s one of those places where Democrats and Republicans feel that they can get an advantage over an opponent based on the current political temperatures… If Anthony Weiner is seen as being toxic to this kind of core constituency for Democrats nationally, he becomes a liability to the party as they’re heading into an election season.

Democrats nationally are not giving Weiner a lot of support. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is reportedly furious with him and proposing an investigation, Senator Harry Reid and former DNC chair Tim Kaine have condemned him. Paybarah said no national Democratic leader has gone on the record supporting Weiner.

It is an amazing kind of silence that is being heard. When colleagues from your own delegation are resolutely silent, and when you have national people sort of clearing their voices, saying, look you’re becoming a distraction and you need to go, the writing is on the wall. He clearly doesn’t have the kind of support that you would think a seven-term member of congress would have.

Redistricting may cost Weiner his seat, even if he doesn’t resign, with the scandal increasing that likelihood. Campbell said that possibility is likely, but cautioned that a lot can happen in the six months before the process begins.

There’s going to be two sitting congressman who are going to lose this game of musical chairs, and why would the Democrats work overly-hard to keep somebody that might lose reelection in a conservative district because of a personal scandal?

A Progressive Nationally But Not Locally

Weiner’s district is one of the most conservative congressional districts in the city, yet Anthony Weiner has a reputation as a progressive firebrand in congress. Campbell took issue with that description of Weiner, pointing out that the congressman has supported several right-leaning positions, such as with foreign policy in Israel and closer to home, he has opposed bike lanes. Paybarah agreed with that assessment.

The more Anthony Weiner focused on national issues, the more liberal he was able to appear, much in the way Chuck Schumer does. When he is on the Sunday talk shows, when he is traveling around the country nationally, he is the flag-bearer for progressive democratic politics. When he is closer to New York things are much more cautious and reserved.

In the 2005 mayoral democratic primary campaign, Weiner positioned himself as the more conservative, white ethnic outer-borough candidate against competitor Fernando Ferrer, who won the nomination.

The Seatholder Strategy

Campbell spoke about a strategy in which, if Weiner’s district is eliminated, it might be politically expedient for Weiner to remain where he is for now. If he stays in office, he can prevent a challenge in a redistricting election from an incumbent who might beat the current office holders. He likened the process to musical chairs.

“If there’s going to be one less congressional seat in Queens, if Anthony Weiner stays on, he can resign and every incumbent will have a chair to sit down in. If Anthony Weiner resigns now and there’s a special election to [replace] him, there’s going to be one congressmember who is going to compete for one of those chairs, and that could come at the expense of a sitting Queens incumbent.”

If Weiner does resign, the governor will schedule a special election and local parties would have to select a candidate, to serve the rest of the congressman’s term.


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Comments [14]

@jgarbuz from Queens

Please go back into your moralistic cave.


Jun. 14 2011 09:08 AM
DON'T RESIGN - It'd define the rest of your life. from Character assassins should have their lives investigated!

Rep. Weiner - if you are reading this -


Do not let the character assassins destroy you. You are a good person who has done a great deal for NYC. You are an
honorable person who stood up for 911 responders when the truely immoral hypocrits in Congress tried to CUT SPENDING FOR MEDICAL CARE OF

and see how are good people are being
destroyed by the TRUELY Corrupt.



(and remind those cowards in the democratic party who turned on you that :

1) A friend in need is a friend indeed, and

2) "We hang together or surely we will hang separately".


Jun. 09 2011 09:45 PM
Louise from Brooklyn

Brian's guests tell us that resign or not, AW will cost us taxpayer $$. If he does not resign, an investigation of possible misuse of gov't resources will be funded by tax $$. If he resigns, a new congress- person cannnot be appointed. A special election must be held - extremely costly to taxpayers. This is where the integrity and forethought of our elected officials come in - their actions, private or public, often come at our expense. Literally.

Jun. 09 2011 02:17 PM

i don't care about other people's private life.
why do u?

Jun. 09 2011 12:07 PM
mario from Kew Gardens - Queens

I find interesting that Politian cut cost to almost anything that saves lives but fund wars that took this country to the bottom .

Weiner has a private life, if you dislike the way he conducts himself in his own privacy, don't vote for him.

What is wrong with this country that puts more emphasis in sex than lives being wasted everywhere in the name of freedom?

The worse part his is not just a Republican thing, it spreads to the very core of this country.

When will Americans learn that people have sex and sexual fantasies anyway they want? So much has been done by a lot of group of people to stop sex as it is, yet it gets more progressive every decade.
But sex = morality????

Little distraction called sex........This how Republicans destroy this country in 8 years and expect democrats to fix in 3.

Jun. 09 2011 12:05 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

As far as I can tell, unless I missed something(which perhaps I did?), none of these women so far have claimed he harassed them or anything so basically it's a consenting adult sending pics to another consenting adult.....

So this is "immoral" how?

The voters should decide if he stays or goes, not some stupid investigation that will waste tax-payer money!

Jun. 09 2011 12:01 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I don't agree that "voters should decide" as if voters are the authors of morality. The reason we are NOT a direct democracy, but rather a republic, is precisely because we did not want a mobocracy. We did not want mob rule, and so we are supposed to elect people of the highest moral personal standards. If they fail to live up to those high moral standards, they should be removed by Congress, not by the mob.

Jun. 09 2011 11:58 AM

He lied and it sounds like these pictures were unsolicited. Of course we should look into whether or not he used government resources to do this.

Jun. 09 2011 11:57 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

An amoral nation will not be influential or prosperous for very long. I don't care how "effective" or talented a legislator he may or may not be, if he has no capacity to distinguish between moral or immoral behavior, he has no business legislating for us, or ruling over us. Legality is not morality, and if it is immoral, it does not matter how legal it may or might not be. If it is immoral, it brings us down as a society, and we are a society on the way down!

Jun. 09 2011 11:54 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

It amazes me how self-righteous everyone is about this.

Jun. 09 2011 11:53 AM
Dave Gallin

I'm sorry,but why didn't Sen Vitnor resign?

Jun. 09 2011 11:52 AM
Susan from NYC

Did these pols demanding his resignation do the same when Rangel was indulging in four (!) rent-controlled apartments, cheating on his taxes, and misusing his office? If not, then it's all personal and political, not ethical.

Jun. 09 2011 11:51 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Meanwhile, an Ohio congressman was convicted yesterday of having sex with a 16 year old girl, and he has the gall to talk about running for reelection, since it was "only" a misdemeanor.

Not to defend the ridiculous Rep. Weiner, but I have to wonder if the Ohio congressman's conviction has gotten even a tenth of the attention that Weiner has.

Jun. 09 2011 11:51 AM
Reba Kay from East Village

Do we know at what time of day the Congressman sent his messages? Was it an after-hours pursuit, or was done during his work hours while his salary was being paid by us?

(Shame, he was good representative.)

Jun. 09 2011 11:48 AM

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