Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997, initially as a staff writer for the New
Disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's entry into the Democratic mayoral primary goes beyond the calculations of your average nervy career politician. His strange new adventure is unique in several ways. Here's how:
CRAZY MONEYThis year marks Weiner's last chance under city public financing rules to draw down a potential $1.5 million in taxpayer matching funds from the $4.3 million war chest he collected for a 2009 race he never ran. The fundraising preceded the sexting-and-lying scandal that forced him out of Congress less than two years ago. If not for this use-it-or-lose-it incentive, it's hard to believe he'd be in this race.
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'COMEBACK' PLEAWeiner says coyly in his announcement video, "I hope I get a second chance to work for you." But this isn't a bid for his old Congressional seat. He's going for the top job at City Hall -- a management challenge way larger than most, where credibility might help. It is hard to recall anyone who was forced out of public office after getting caught in big lies, and then in 33 months won election from a constituency almost 12 times the size.
Weiner, in the weeks before his announcement, reacted with snark and cryptic utterances to all but the most indulgent news media questions -- and avoided the spontaneous public contact other candidates faced. He has even moved away from his former Brooklyn-Queens district where an unknown Republican was elected to replace him.
Surely as his money came before his scandal, his name recognition largely arises from it. He has yet to start redefining himself to voters citywide and hasn't even plausibly explained his past behavior. So while Weiner draws 15 percent in early polls, half the voters surveyed by Quinnipiac said Weiner shouldn't even run.
SILENT MENTORSWeiner was known for years as a protege of Sen. Charles Schumer, having succeeded Schumer in the House district. Schumer hasn't even commented on his candidacy. Neither has former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, mentor of Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, who speaks in his campaign commercial.