Anthony Weiner, the former U.S. congressman who resigned two years ago after engaging in lewd online behavior, would be a formidable candidate in a crowded New York mayoral field, pollster Maurice Carroll said.
Weiner, 48, who served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, is considering a return to politics, the New York Times reported Wednesday. One reason why he would have an impact on the race is that he still holds $4.3 million from an aborted 2009 run for the Democratic mayoral nomination, said Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut.
"His political savvy and his money are two real pluses," Carroll said. "Everybody knows what the negatives are." Weiner's entry into a race that already includes five Democrats would almost guarantee a Sept. 10 primary in which the top vote-getter fails to win 40 percent, Carroll said. That would force a runoff with the second-place finisher. Polls show City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leading among Democrats, though with less than 40 percent support.
"Weiner in or Weiner out, you'd probably have a runoff," Carroll said. "If he entered the race it would be a certainty."
Weiner, a former New York City Council member, said in an e-mail that he was "kinda swamped today," declining further comment. In Congress from 1999 to 2011, he was an advocate for universal health care, stricter gun regulations and increased tax rates on the high-income earners.
Under city law, a candidate needs $250,000 in donations of $175 or less to qualify for 6-to-1 matching funds. Weiner, who has $248,710 in such claims, needs just $1,290 in contributions to qualify for about $1.5 million in public funds, said Eric Friedman, spokesman for the city Campaign Finance Board.
His deadline to be eligible for matching funds requires him to run for local office this year, Friedman said.
"He would have to run a full bore, honest-to-goodness campaign or he would be required to give back that money," said William Cunningham, a political adviser to former New York Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
"His late entry, with this cloud over his head, makes his chances of winning remote, to say the least," he said.
Weiner's resignation came after he admitted that he engaged in "inappropriate conversations" with six women over the previous three years, including on Facebook, e-mail, Twitter and on the phone with one of them.
He had publicly denied sending a racy photograph of himself to a Seattle woman via Twitter, and claimed that his account was hacked. The photo showed a man from the waist down in gray underwear.
Weiner mused about a possible political future for himself in a New York Times magazine article to be published April 14, in which he said he remains undecided about a mayoral bid this year. He described himself as a political underdog, citing private polls he's paid for, the Times reported.
"The fact that I don't know tells me I shouldn't run. Or I should not run now," the Times article quotes him saying. The former Brooklyn-and-Queens-based congressman now lives in a "sprawling apartment" on Manhattan's Park Avenue South, the newspaper reported.
"If Anthony wants to be mayor, he should run," City Comptroller John Liu, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, said Wednesday after a speech. "I would just suggest getting rid of his phone and closing down the Tweeting account."