The comeback story is one of the oldest literary traditions that exists, but it seems that real life is taking from art when it comes to political narratives. Anthony Weiner made the first step on a comeback tour on Tuesday, posting a video that served as his official entry into the race.
Anthony Weiner, for those who decided to not go on the internet or turn on their television in June of 2011, is a former U.S. Congressman from New York who resigned in the wake of a “sexting” scandal that saw him become a laughing stock in the news and internet. His comeback attempt bring up one question that will be decisively answered in this election, can the public forgive him for his past actions? If bungled this whole electoral attempt could have people asking if Weiner has a working brain.
Weiner has several advantages going into the crowded Democratic primary. He starts off with a $4.3 million dollar warchest, the second largest in the Democratic crowd. Only the front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has a larger warchest built up, reaching the maximum for the primary of $6,426,000. She has also raised money for any potential runoff and has begun raising for the general election contest.
He also has the advantage of name recognition. While candidates like New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and New York City Comptroller John Liu must work to get their names out to the public, Weiner probably has 100% name recognition. For better or worse, he will be a giant in the media cycles, possibly crowding out some of the less well known candidates.
He also will start at a surprising point in polling. Polls have only begun introducing Weiner into their questions but the latest Quinnipiac Poll about the race had him at a surprising 15%, second only to Quinn who has 28%. New York City mayoral primary elections require at least a 40% vote total in order to avoid a runoff, something that was expected even before Weiner entered the race.
However the poll also illustrates the primary obstacle that Weiner faces. He has a 33 favorable/41 unfavorable rating among all voters. Among men it is 36/43 favorable/unfavorable rating, while women have a 30/39 favorable/unfavorable rating of Weiner. He must repair these numbers or shift the focus to his opponent in order to have a chance of winning.
Given the September 10 date of the primary, Weiner will have rapidly build a campaign operation and infrastructure. His late entry may make getting crucial endorsements more difficult as he may have to crash build up relationships that other candidates have spent months cultivating.
But given the comeback of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who managed to get elected to Congress despite a humiliating reveal of his affair with an Argentine journalist, the public may be in a forgiving mood. Time will tell if Weiner pulls off a political comeback or slinks back into the wilderness.