Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Anthony Weiner's run for a renaissance is officially on.
With a heavy appeal to the middle class, Anthony Weiner is re-entering political life, announcing a campaign for Mayor of the City of New York in a video released overnight on youtube (you can view it at the end of the post.)
The ex-congressman's career imploded in a rash of raunchy tweets two years ago. But sliding in just inches ahead of June's deadline to start collecting signatures to get on the ballot, Weiner is jumping back into the political fray.
"I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," he said in the video. "I'm running for mayor because I've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance."
To underline that point, Weiner described his roots as a stick-ball playing, Mets-attending Brooklyn boy, son of a schoolteacher and a lawyer, growing up in Park Slope and attending PS 39.
His video opens with a shot of his wife and son at the breakfast table, before segueing campaign shots showing chatting with business owners and appearing at press conferences as a member of Congress. Most of the characters look like what's known in political circles as " white ethnics" -- outer-borough denizens. There are few minorities.
The video caps off with him sitting on the stoop of the limestone where he grew up in Park Slope with his wife, former State Department and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin at his side. Weiner intones: "New York should be the middle class capital of the world, and I've got some ideas how to do it."
Weiner has already released a policy book, Keys to the City, much of it re-cycled from the 2009 campaign for Mayor, which he had planned to enter but never formally did. It includes ideas ranging from making big box stores "play by the rules" to encouraging employer incentives to bike to work to making it easier to remove "troublesome" kids from classrooms.
In Union Square Wednesday morning, voters seemed willing to give Weiner a new look, if they seemed vague on what he wants to do as Mayor. "Everybody deserves a second chance," said Joe Villafane. "Give him a shot, see what happens, he gotta redeem himself."
Steve Schwartz lives in Weiner’s former Congressional district in Forest Hills and said he doesn’t have much confidence in him as a politician, but “it’s a free country, and he hasn’t been convicted of anything, so he can do what he wants.”
The Democrat is jumping into a crowded field for September's primary, which already has five candidates. Another four are running on the GOP and Independence party lines. Weiner is arriving with some significant advantages, including a $4.8 million campaign war chest, the possibility of more than $1 million more in public matching money, polls showing him ahead of all but one other Democrat - and no end of name recognition.
His entry coincided with a Quinnipiac College Poll showing him running second after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, at 15 points to her 25. Two other candidates, Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, are tied at ten percent. Weiner, unlike other members of the field, has almost universal name recognition.
At a mayoral forum Wednesday morning, the other Democrats tried to sidle away from addressing how Weiner's candidacy would affect the race.
"I think that is going to be up to the people of the city of New York as they judge all of us," Thompson said.
"I agree with Billy," said Speaker Quinn. "That's not a question for any of us to answer, it's a question for the voters to answer. But what I think the voters are really concerned about is making sure that the next mayor isn't someone who's just going to make promises, is somebody who's got a record during their career in government or the private sector of actually delivering for New Yorkers."
John Liu echoed that it will be up to the voters and speaking as one himself one thing was certain, "I won't be voting for him."