Though the latest poll showed a majority of New Yorkers want Anthony Weiner to drop out of the mayor’s race, he shows no signs of quitting despite a week of nonstop coverage, questions, criticism, and at least one defecting staffer. All three of Weiner’s main rivals — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — have called for him to give up the ghost, but with the race entering its home stretch — a little more than 40 days until the crucial Sept. 10 Democratic primary — the reality is, some of Weiner’s opponents might benefit from having Weiner to kick around a while longer.Prior to the sexting scandal, insiders saw the race as a three-way contest between Weiner, Quinn, and Thompson. Weiner had the lead in several polls. A poll conducted immediately after the scandal indicated it propelled Quinn into first place and cost Weiner a large chunk of his support. That finding was echoed by a Qunnipiac poll released Monday.
However, Quinn’s lead isn’t enough to get her to City Hall. New York City election law provides that, if no one wins at least 40 percent of the primary vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in a run-off Sept. 24. Quinnipiac polls released before and after the Weiner scandal showed Quinn’s best chance of winning a runoff is in a matchup with Weiner. Quinn’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Thompson also could benefit from a diminished Weiner remaining in the race. His support climbed just one percent in the first post-scandal poll compared to a five-point increase for Quinn and a four-point bump for De Blasio. Monday’s poll showed Thompson’s support remaining flat despite Weiner’s decline while Quinn gained five points and De Blasio saw a six percent increase. Thompson clearly would prefer Weiner holds on to some of his support if, as these numbers indicate, voters who leave Weiner are more likely to flock to his opponents than to Thompson. Thompson’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Both De Blasio and Thompson’s teams indicated they expected their candidate to outperform the poll numbers long before Weiner dropped out of first place. With Weiner struggling, De Blasio’s team said he is “better positioned than ever” to make the runoff that will occur if no candidate wins at least 40 percent of the primary vote.
“It’s a wide open race, and as the only progressive candidate fighting to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for universal Pre-K and taking on inequality and racial profiling, Bill de Blasio is better positioned than ever to make the run off,” De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said.
For his part, Weiner clearly wants to shift the focus back to substantive policy issues and off his digital dalliances.
In an email to supporters sent Monday afternoon, Weiner struck a defiant tone, criticizing the press and his opponents for pushing for him to drop out and vowing to win the support of voters by continuing to hammer home the message of standing up for the middle class that he has tried to stick with since launching his campaign in May.
“These same folks have been howling about me running from the moment I first got in, Weiner wrote. “I knew that revelations about my past private life might come back to embarrass me. I never hid from that possibility. But, I waged this campaign on a bet that the citizens of my city would be more interested in a vision for improving their lives rather than in old stories about mine.”
However, bad headlines, hecklers, outside pressure, and plummeting poll numbers aren’t Weiner’s only problems as he tries to rebound from the sexting fiasco.
Over the weekend, news broke that Weiner’s campaign manager, Danny Kedem, had left his team in the wake of the scandal. The departure of Kedem, who declined to comment on this story, thins the ranks of an operation that was already reportedly having trouble recruiting talent and was noticeably smaller than rival organizations.
Despite Kedem’s departure, at least some of Weiner’s staff are standing by him. Reached by phone Monday, Weiner’s deputy campaign manager Camille Joseph confirmed she was still working on the team and referred all other questions to the campaign’s communications director, Barbara Morgan.
“Yes, I’m still a member of the team,” Joseph said.
Morgan did not respond to multiple requests for comment, however,
Kedem’s departure isn’t the only sign of tense times in Weinerland. On Friday, the New York Post published a story about Weiner’s brother, Jason, attempting to contact one of his online chat partners to “take her temperature” as Weiner began to prepare his mayoral bid. The original version of that story, which has since been edited online, quoted Morgan seemingly snapping in response to the newspaper reporter’s question:
“Do you even f–king know how Facebook works?”