Anthony Weiner, the former New York City congressman, and Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, wrecked their political careers in spectacularly seamy ways, but, in the Big Apple, there is always the chance for a second act.
Weiner famously got carried away amid cyber-flirtations with women other than his wife and tweeted a photo of his bulging underwear. When the tumescent tweet went public, he tried to evade responsibility with a clumsy lie. Spitzer, the supposedly straight-arrow ex-prosecutor, got caught spending a lot of time and a big wad of money on a dark-haired young call girl.
The two hugely ambitious Democrats were cast into the wilderness of political has-beens, but they are refusing to stay there. Currently, they are mounting comebacks; Weiner has a decent shot at becoming mayor of New York City, while Spitzer is comfortably ahead in the race to become city comptroller.
Not every New York Democrat is ready to absolve the two shamed men. The New York Post has identified numerous Democratic city officials – mostly backers of Spitzer’s opponent – who insist the ex-governor should drop out of the race and pay back the tax money he spent on a 2008 trip to Washington, D.C., where he hooked up with call girl Ashley Dupré.
Nevertheless, a majority of Democrats responding to a new Quinnipiac poll say Spitzer deserves a second chance. His hypocritical romp with a prostitute does not seem to be holding him back.
Meanwhile, Weiner has been able to raise nearly $900,000 for his campaign. Interestingly, Weiner’s chief fundraiser is his wife, Huma Abedin. Apparently, she has forgiven his sexting. The question is whether voters will be as forgiving, especially about his brazen lying.
One poll shows Democrats with an unfavorable view of Weiner outnumber those who like him. Most recent polls also indicate his reported surge to the front in the race for the Democratic nomination may be illusory. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn now appears to be edging him for the lead.
On Saturday, Quinn said having both Weiner and Spitzer on the ballot was bringing a “Kardashian-like” atmosphere to politics in the nation’s biggest city. One assumes, she meant that as a negative. Still, as the Kardashians have proven in the entertainment world, a little titillation and trashiness can be a winning combination.