Anthony Weiner’s Twitter scandal came roaring back on Tuesday with the revelation that he had continued to engage in sexually explicit online conversations with at least one woman after such behavior had prompted him to resign from Congress.
But some Queens voters on the outskirts of his old congressional district do not think that Weiner’s online interactions with women other than his wife should disqualify him from becoming New York City’s next mayor.
In fact, potential voters interviewed on Tuesday evening seem to be increasingly inclined to forgive and forget. In mid-May, shortly before Weiner officially announced that he would run for mayor, it was difficult to find anyone at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 48th Avenue in Bayside who would say that they might give him another shot.
Two months later, a number of Bayside residents interviewed on the same street corner said they just might vote for the former congressman. Their sentiments mirror Weiner’s rise in several polls, where he is now either in the lead, tied for first place or in second place among the Democratic candidates for mayor.
A July 15 Quinnipiac University poll also found that voters find public corruption to be worse than sexual misconduct by a three-to-one margin.
Several Bayside resident echoed those poll results, saying that the mayoral candidate’s personal faults are exactly that—personal.
“We’re electing them for their jobs, not their personal lives,” said John, a Bayside resident who works in information technology. “We’re not judging his morals, so I think I’d consider him.”
John, who was chatting with several other parents while waiting for his kid to finish a taekwondo lesson, wasn’t alone in his views. Three other parents outside the taekwondo studio agreed that Weiner’s candidacy shouldn’t be ruled out.
“I’m UFT, so my union is supporting Bill Thompson,” said Suzanne Miller, a teacher and United Federation of Teachers member who lives in the nearby neighborhood of Fresh Meadows. “If Thompson doesn’t get the Democratic nomination, I would consider voting for Weiner. I also like John Liu, but I would also consider voting for Weiner.”
“Wasn’t there something with John Liu?” asked another parent.
“There was,” Miller replied, acknowledging an investigation into Liu’s fundraising, as the others laughed. “I know. I don’t know. I’d vote for anyone except Christine Quinn. She’s no friend to the teachers at all. She’s a friend of Michael Bloomberg.”
The group also seemed to be receptive to another disgraced candidate positioning himself for redemption—Eliot Spitzer, the former governor who recently jumped into the race for New York City comptroller. All four parents agreed that Spitzer, despite his prostitution scandal, had done a good job as attorney general of New York.
Across the street, a middle-aged woman named Sue, who works in banking, said that it was too soon to say whether she would vote for Weiner or Spitzer. But she initially didn’t rule out casting a ballot for either one.
“No, not at all,” she said when asked if Weiner’s online interactions with multiple women would keep her from voting for him. “Whoever the best candidate, I will vote for. I don’t know too much about him yet.”
But when she was informed that Weiner had continued the online conversations after his behavior had become public and after he had already stepped down from Congress, she said she might reconsider whether supporting him was an option.
“That means he lies—that’s not good,” she said.
At least at this stage in the campaign, one potential advantage for both Weiner and Spitzer is that their scandals, as well as past positions in elected office, have resulted in relatively strong name recognition.
For example, nobody interviewed could name any other candidates in the city comptroller’s race. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a Democrat, was seen as a shoo-in before Spitzer entered the race, and a long-shot Republican candidate, John Burnett, is also in the mix.
The mid-July Quinnipiac poll found that more than 60 percent of voters don’t know enough about Stringer to have an opinion of him. Only 12 percent had not heard enough about Spitzer, and 18 percent didn’t know enough about Weiner.
Of course, some people view Weiner and Spitzer as little more than embarrassments. Leo Gorynski, a self-employed Bayside resident in his mid-50s, said that both candidates are a “disgrace.”
“If New York elects him, it will just show that we’re Sodom and Gomorrhah,” said Gorynski, who said he plans to vote for Republican candidate John Catsimatidis for mayor. “[Eliot Spitzer] is a bigger disgrace. He broke the law. People went to jail for the same thing he did.”