Against all expectations, Anthony Weiner is now leading the Democratic race to become mayor of New York City. The former Brooklyn-Queens congressman, who was forced to resign two years ago over a sexting scandal, now polls higher than previous frontrunner Christine Quinn, and it appears he won’t stop gaining momentum any time soon.
According to a new poll conducted by NBC New York and the Wall Street Journal, released Tuesday, Weiner now leads the primary race with support from 25 percent of registered Democratic voters, despite entering the race at the last minute. In second place is City Council Speaker Quinn with 20 percent. Trailing are former City Comptroller and 2009 nominee Bill Thompson (13 percent) and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (10 percent).
Until recently, Weiner was seen as a second-place candidate at best. In a poll from May, only 40 percent of registered New York voters said they would consider voting for Weiner. Now, 49 percent say they’ll at least consider Weiner as their candidate of choice. Similarly, voters who said they never vote for him dropped in number from 52 percent to 45 percent.
The verdict is clear: Weiner is gaining ground fast. It’s not hard to see why, either. Weiner is a charismatic candidate, and he’s been campaigning hard for the position. When Weiner appeared at a forum on education last month, as IBTimes reported, he captivated the crowd asking for a second chance at his political career. It seems obvious that after conceding the Democratic race to Fernando Ferrer out of party solidarity in 2005 and staying out of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s way in 2009, Weiner is determined to finally win the mayoral race this time around.
“Things are changing – the race has been scrambled by Weiner’s candidacy,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told the Wall Street Journal. “Weiner’s candidacy has gotten more acceptable to voters since he announced, (and) Quinn’s having a difficult time reversing what has been a slow but steady decline in her numbers.”
Despite Weiner’s numbers, though, the Quinn campaign isn’t ready to bow out just yet.
“We fully expect the polls to fluctuate throughout the campaign, but we are confident that on Election Day when voters have to decide who they want to lead this city, they will choose someone who has demonstrated the ability to lead and deliver,” Quinn spokesman Mike Morey told NBC New York.
And regardless of his recent increased momentum, Weiner still has to overcome the 2011 sexting scandal that sank his career as a congressman. In June 2011, Weiner inadvertently posted a picture of his clothed genitals on Twitter, and lied to the press saying he’d been hacked. Not long after, he fessed up to sending racy pictures and text messages to multiple women despite being married.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.