NEW YORK CITY — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was forced to resign from Congress following a sexting scandal, is considering jumping into the mayor's race again.
In an extensive interview that will appear in Sunday's The New York Times Magazine, the disgraced poll and indebted spouse said that — while he hasn't made any decisions yet — he is mulling a return to politics and hopes voters will be able to forgive him and give him a second chance.
"It’s now or maybe never for me," said Weiner, whose standing as a Democratic superstar came tumbling down after he posted what he calls "that fateful Tweet" broadcasting an imagine of his crotch for all the world to see. He spent days lying to the press, pretending his account had been hacked as more women and photos emerged, before finally 'fessing up.
"I want to ask people to give me a second chance," Weiner told the magazine. "I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down and with people who put their faith in me and who wanted to support me. I think to some degree I do want to say to them, ‘Give me another chance.’”
Weiner already has $4.3 million in his campaign coffers, left over from 2009, and would be eligible for another $1.5 million in public matching funds if he decides to run this year, making him a potentially potent challenger in a race where many complain the options fail to inspire.
His name has also been floated as a potential candidate for Comptroller.
Speculation that Weiner was mulling a run began to swirl after financial disclosure reports revealed that Weiner was maintaining a campaign office and campaign phones even after his fall from grace. Then, in March, he revealed having spent more than $100 million on research and polls by David Binder.
Binder told the magazine the focus of the poll was: “Are voters willing to give him a second chance or not, regardless of what race or what contest?”
The result? Less than rosy for Weiner.
“People are generally prepared to get over it, but they don’t know if they’re prepared to vote for me," he said. "And there’s a healthy number of people who will never get over it."
Asked about his chances, he said: "David said I’d be the underdog in any race I ran.”
Weiner didn't provide any timeline for making his decision, but has clearly been thinking a great deal about his image and what it would take to run.
"I’m trying to gauge not only what’s right and what feels comfortable right this second, but I’m also thinking, How will I feel in a year or two years or five years? Is this the time that I should be doing it? And then there’s the other side of the coin, which is . . . am I still the same person who I thought would make a good mayor?” he said.
But generally, he said, the reaction he gets on the street is positive.
“It’s one of the following,” he said: “1) ‘Oh, you should run.’ 2) ‘Man, you got screwed.’ 3) ‘Aww, I’m so sorry what happened to you.’ 4) ‘Spitzer! You’re Governor Spitzer!’ ”