Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) refused to resign on Monday after admitting he sent sexually explicit photos to women he met through social networking websites. His decision to stay on reduces the slim chance the GOP had of capturing his seat.
"I am sorry," Weiner said during a press conference in New York. "I'm not resigning."
The seven-term congressman initially denied sending a photo of a male crotch to a Washington state college student through Twitter. But Weiner reversed himself Monday after other women came forward to say they'd been in contact with the married congressman and had received photos from him.
Weiner's decision to remain in office helps his party because it means New York won't play host to a second special House election. The last time a New York congressman resigned amid an online scandal, his seat switched hands.
In the state's western 26th district, former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) abruptly resigned in February following a report the married congressman solicited a romantic encounter over the Internet and sent a shirtless photo of himself to the woman. Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) subsequently captured the seat in the May special election.
Democrats likely aren't losing sleep over losing Weiner's 9th district, which covers Queens.
Despite 2010 being a banner year for the GOP, Weiner won reelection last November with 61 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2008, when President Obama beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the district by 11 percent.
No Republican has filed to run against Weiner this cycle.
But his situation could still prove problematic for Democrats. The GOP has demanded to know what the Democrats' House leadership knew of Weiner's communications with the young women.
"It's time for Democratic leadership to explain why Congressman Weiner's actions never aroused any suspicion, and why they rushed to his defense while so many Americans were shocked and confused by his bizarre and disturbing behavior," Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.
The NRCC has a history of trying to exploit the troubles of New York Democrats. Last cycle, they sought to make Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-N.Y.) House ethics trial a national issue for Democrats.
Weiner told reporters he spoke to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) before announcing that he'd had "inappropriate online communications" with several women.
"She said to be truthful," Weiner said. "She was not happy, she told me as much."
Whether Weiner runs for reelection next year remains to be seen. He told reporters on Monday that was "the last thing on my mind."