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Commentary: Weiner's in If for Weiner

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The second place finisher in the Democratic mayoral primary did something unprecedented in New York politics: Anthony Weiner conceded defeat rather than count the absentee ballots, which could have forced a runoff election against Fernando Ferrer. WNYC’s Brian Lehrer says don’t believe either party’s version of why Weiner dropped out.

LEHRER: Let’s be honest. Anthony Weiner was running to lose the Democratic primary, not to win it. Losing – but coming in a solid second – builds his credentials for a future race in an easier year. Winning would have meant actually having to run against Michael Bloomberg, who is kind of like Weiner on most issues, only more so. Put another way, why would you vote for a fake fake Republican when you can vote for a real fake Republican? And there’s the small matter of the hundred million dollars Bloomberg can spend from his own allowance, much of it to paint Wiener in a negative light.

Plus, what nice Jewish boy from Park Slope needs to look like he’s on the wrong side of history, by trying to stop Freddy Ferrer from becoming the first Latino nominee – especially when Ferrer did beat him, after all, by 11 full percentage points – by 50 thousand votes - even if he’s a few hundredths of a percent shy of a technical win.

So don’t buy Weiner’s dropping out as a good deed for the Democratic party. And don’t buy the Republican attacks on him as caving to party bosses. Anthony Weiner made his choice for the sake of Anthony Weiner. And he’ll be back.

Already back, by the way, is last year’s Democratic loser – yes, Senator John Kerry. In a fundraising letter e-mailed to Democrats on Thursday in support of Ferrer, Kerry blasted Bloomberg for raising $7 million for the Bush campaign last year and posing with the President for photo-ops.

Never mind that some of the Democrats’ biggest New York donors have already endorsed the mayor for re-election, or that he regularly gets praised by Senators Schumer and Clinton.

The Mayor felt enough heat by yesterday that he chose sides in a fight he would just as soon have stayed out of: Our mayor, who hasn’t taken a stand on the Iraq war or Cindy Sheehan because they’re not New York issues, came out against the nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice. The official reason: to protect Roe vs. Wade. His unofficial reason: The fall campaign has now begun.

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