Voters pass judgment on Weiner, Spitzer comebacks
By JONATHAN LEMIRE
The Associated Press | September 11,2013
Democratic mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner holds his son Jordan as he speaks to reporters after casting his vote at his polling station during the primary election in New York on Tuesday.
NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, two brash New Yorkers whose careers were shattered by sex scandals, sought political redemption in Tuesday’s primaries after a campaign season that played out at times like a lurid reality show.
And at least one of them appeared likely to be voted off the stage.
As primary day arrived, the polls had Weiner, a one-time front-runner for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, languishing in fourth place, his image probably in worse shape than when he jumped into the race.
Those same polls had Spitzer locked in a tight contest for city comptroller.
Both Democrats’ attempts at a comeback started strong.
Weiner had been in political exile since he resigned from Congress in 2011 for sending women lewd online messages and pictures. He got into the mayor’s race in May, and aside from a few dust-ups with hecklers, was largely well-received at first, holding the lead for most of June and July.
But then an obscure gossip website named The Dirty released X-rated exchanges between Weiner and a 22-year-old woman that took place well after the candidate quit the House.
Weiner and his wife, top Hillary Rodham Clinton aide Huma Abedin, held an emergency news conference in which the candidate vowed to stay in the race.
“I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward,” Abedin said.
But Adebin was not seen again on the campaign trail. And Weiner’s mayoral bid never recovered.
His online sexting pseudonym, “Carlos Danger,” became a big joke on late-night TV. He plunged in the polls, and his behavior became more erratic.
He called a 69-year-old Republican candidate “Grandpa” at an AARP-sponsored forum. He increasingly engaged in angry exchanges with voters, including a shouting match in a Brooklyn bakery last week when a customer uttered a crude insult.
Weiner shot back: “It takes one to know one, jackass.”
Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 after admitting he paid for sex with call girls. In exile, he bounced around television as a pundit. Then, just four days before the deadline, he announced he was running for comptroller.
He took an early lead in the polls, but the race tightened dramatically in recent weeks as the Democratic establishment rallied around his main opponent, Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president.
Unlike Weiner, who made a point of fielding voters’ questions about his scandal, Spitzer apologized a few times and then refused to talk about it.
He largely eschewed retail campaigning — situations that could have led to awkward exchanges with voters — in favor of national TV interviews and a big television ad campaign, financed with his own millions.
But he could not avoid all mention of the scandal. The city’s tabloids hounded him about the state of his marriage; Spitzer said he was still married, but his wife never appeared on the campaign trail.
And a madam who claimed to have supplied Spitzer with prostitutes announced that she, too, would be running for comptroller. But Kristen Davis’ bid ended when she was arrested by the FBI for allegedly peddling prescription drugs.