NEW YORK — Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose once-shining political career collapsed after lewd online relationships with women forced him to resign from Congress two years ago, entered New York's mayoral race Wednesday with promises to make the city "the middle-class capital of the world."
Weiner made his announcement via a video posted on YouTube overnight, ensuring he would not be subjected to the heckling that erupted when he held a news conference to announce his resignation in June 2011. Unlike that news conference, when Weiner stood alone on a stage to address the city, in the video his wife, Huma Abedin, appears beside him and speaks on his behalf.
In the announcement, Weiner, a Democrat, portrays himself as a family man and typical "middle-class kid" from Brooklyn with fond memories of playing stick ball, going to baseball games, and attending public schools. It opens with a scene of Weiner helping Abedin feed their toddler breakfast at home.
Photos: Political sex scandals
"Every day starts right here," he says, before guiding viewers on a two-minute, 16-second tour of New York while reminiscing about the past and lamenting the present. "It's getting harder and harder every day" to make it into the middle class, Weiner says, citing the city's high cost of living and soaring housing prices.
"Look, I know I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," he says.
Weiner joins a race that includes several candidates with high name recognition who have been campaigning for months, including the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn; the city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio; and Bill Thompson, who ran in the last mayoral election in 2009. The primary is in September, and the election to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been in office the maximum three terms, is in November.
Weiner's candidacy had been expected, and a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed him in second place to Quinn, with 15% supporting him in the Democratic primary compared to Quinn's 25%. But the poll also indicated that 27% of those surveyed were undecided. The same poll showed that 49% of respondents felt that Weiner should not run for mayor, compared with 38% who supported his candidacy and 12% who were undecided.
Still, the results were impressive for a man who has been off the political stage for nearly two years and whose resignation followed embarrassing revelations of online relationships with several women and lies he told to try to cover his tracks. Ten days after confessing that he had sent sexually provocative messages to women, including photographs of his crotch, he bowed to pressure that peaked when President Obama said that if he were in the congressman's position, he would quit.
Weiner, 48, had represented New York's 9th congressional district, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens, since 1999 and enjoyed immense popularity among constituents, many of whom stuck by him after the "sexting" scandal erupted.
"I hope I get a second chance to work for you," Weiner tells constituents in his video, which includes scenes with his wife, who was an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and pregnant with their first child when the scandal erupted. "We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony," Abedin says.