In what could be the start of one of the most intriguing second acts in American politics, Anthony Weiner is considering jumping into the New York City mayor’s race, two years after resigning a high profile House seat.
The Brooklyn Democrat said in a New York Times Magazine story Wednesday that he realizes he would be an underdog, but he wants to “ask people to give me a second chance.”
“I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me,” Weiner, 48, said in a long and highly personal profile that he clearly hoped would be the start of his rehabilitation.
Weiner said that his political committee spent more than $100,000 on polling and research by Obama’s longtime pollster, David Binder, but said he doesn’t know when he’ll decide on entering the race.
“It won’t be something as pedestrian as ‘Do I think I’ll win?’” he said. “It will be something more like ‘Does it feel like I should be involved in this debate? Someone should be out there saying A, B or C.’”
Political analysts say Weiner would face a steep climb, but his political skills, his rich reserve of campaign money and the dynamics of a crowded Democratic primary could make him a player, if not a clear winner, in the contest this fall to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor of the nation’s largest city.
Known as a congressman for his in-your-face style, he could punch up the forums and debates. And he certainly doesn’t lack for name recognition.
“He’d be a real candidate,” said Maurice “Mickey” Carroll, the director of Quinnipiac University’s polling institute. “His pluses are known. His minuses are known.”
Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said they sought the magazine interview to show voters he is a changed man: He has spent most of his time as caregiver to the couple’s 13-month-old son, Jordan.
Other Democratic candidates greeted the prospect of a Weiner candidacy with restraint Wednesday, with several saying they would welcome him to the contest.
If Weiner gets into the race, he would have a campaign fund of more than $4.3 million and the possibility of nearly $1.5 million more in public matching funds.
With several Democrats vying for the nomination, it’s far from clear that any of them could emerge with the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Some observers think Weiner could at least make it to the second round.