New York Democrats are growing weary of their former colleague, Anthony Weiner, as he charges headlong into New York City’s mayoral race despite new revelations of tawdry behavior.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Weiner to drop out of the contest and seek medical help, while Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) warned that his behavior is “a total distraction” from the important issues facing New York.
“Nobody that I know understands at all what Anthony Weiner was thinking about,” Rangel told MSNBC.
Weiner had been leading the race to replace outgoing NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) until Tuesday, when a blog published sexually explicit messages between him and a younger woman who is not his wife.
Weiner used the pseudonym “Carlos Danger.”
The communications were reminiscent of the lewd images Weiner sent in 2011 to a number of young women he’d never met — an episode that forced the seven-term lawmaker to resign from Congress.
Weiner on Wednesday downplayed the significance of the new messages, even as he’s conceded they came after his 2011 resignation.
“People who know me are still going to vote for me,” Weiner told reporters in New York.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, however, shows Weiner losing a Democratic primary runoff to William Thompson, the former city comptroller, and tying Christine Quinn, the head of New York’s city council.
The survey was largely conducted before the latest scandal broke.
His opponents have been quick to pounce.
Quinn said Weiner’s candidacy is a “disservice to New Yorkers who are looking for someone who has the judgment and maturity to lead this city.”
Thompson has characterized the news as “deeply disturbing.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio declared “enough is enough” and called for Weiner to withdraw “for the good of the city that I know he loves as much as all of us.”
And Sal Albanese, an underdog in the Democratic primary, said “from the moment he entered the race, I’ve said that Tony Weiner was unfit to serve as mayor of our great city.”
Weiner, 48, is married to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Abedin spoke on behalf of her husband at a remarkable press conference on Tuesday.
“Anthony has made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after, but I do strongly believe that is between us,” she said. “I love him; I have forgiven him; I believe in him … and we are moving forward.”
Some political observers believe Weiner’s decision to acknowledge the new scandal quickly — and with Abedin at his side — may have saved his campaign.
“[Tuesday’s press conference] was very different from how he handled the initial scandal [in 2011], when he lied and tried to deflect blame,” said New York Democratic consultant Dan Gerstein.
“He had the three H’s that weren’t there before: Honesty, humility and Huma.”
Nadler disagreed. The outspoken New York veteran politician characterized Weiner as a “serial liar” who “should withdraw from the race.”
“He needs serious psychiatric help,” Nadler told NBC.
Though more guarded, Velázquez expressed a similar exasperation. She said, “It’s going to be difficult for him to be focused and to address the issues that are important for New Yorkers.”
“As a woman, I feel — what can I say? — I’m very disappointed,” Velázquez said Wednesday. “New Yorkers deserve a real debate on the issues that are important to New Yorkers, and this is a total distraction.”
Rangel, a 22-term Harlem Democrat who’s faced his own scandals in recent years, emphasized that it remains unclear how voters will react to the latest Weiner scandal.
But he suggested New Yorkers are simply more concerned with other issues.
“As far as him running or not, you know, constitutionally, politically, anyone can run,” Rangel told MSNBC.
“Knowing New York as I do — and I do know New York — this is not going to be a story by the time we get to September the 10th,” Rangel added, referring to date of the Democratic primary.