On the northeastern end of former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s district, which once straddled Brooklyn and Queens, voters are not looking forward to the disgraced former congressman’s potential candidacy for mayor of New York City.
On a street corner in the Queens neighborhood of Bayside, it is hard to find anyone who would say that they would give Weiner another shot if he jumps into the race. Most residents said there was no chance at all that he would get their vote, even if he had their support before.
“He should find a job, an honest job,” said a Bayside resident named James who declined to give his last name. “He’s a ridiculous figure. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a sex fiend—but you know, once you become a butt of jokes … .”
James, who said that Weiner had done a decent job as a representative, echoed other residents in comparing him to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who also resigned from public office after a scandal involving women outside of his marriage but has since returned to the public eye.
“They’re like two peas in a pod,” James said. “They both want to crawl back into the public bosom, and the fact that they think they might have a chance speaks very poorly of the intelligence of the public.”
A part of the Queens neighborhood of Bayside used to be portion of Weiner’s congressional district. The congressman resigned in 2011 amid scandal, and the district now no longer exists, chopped up in redistricting after Weiner was succeeded for a short time by Republican Rep. Bob Turner.
But back in 2010 Weiner easily won re-election, and two thirds of voters in Queens voted for him.
“He had a good neighborhood presence,” said a local named Shari Berkowitz. “He came to all the kids’ graduations. He seemed like the real working kind of politician that shows up at everything, kissing babies and all that. I didn’t really think about him one way or the other, at that time.”
Nonetheless, if Bayside is reflective of Queens or the outer boroughs as a whole, it would likely be difficult for the former congressman to win over even those voters who were supportive of him in the past.
With plenty of time before the primary election, many voters still have only a vague idea of who is running. Many could come up with the name of Christine Quinn, the Council speaker and the frontrunner in several polls. The other candidates were harder to identify. Berkowitz said she supports the city’s public advocate, who is running for mayor, but struggled to recall his name.
“It’s a little early for me yet,” she said. “I like, um, what’s his name? Blasio? De Blasio? I followed him on Facebook throughout the whole Sandy thing. Most of the stuff he said, I agree with. Most of the stuff he’s emailing me, I agree with.”
And like most other residents, Berkowitz hasn’t forgotten the name of Anthony Weiner, and her view of him is decidedly negative.
“Well, you know, the lying is worse than the act, and the continual lying and covering it up until it can’t be covered up any more, then I don’t vote for a guy like that,” she said.
Several Bayside residents also said that they favored Quinn. A woman named Joanne said that the Council speaker was hard-working and sensible and displayed great judgment.
“She’s a leader,” she said. “I’ve watched her on cable. She’s fabulous.”
As for Weiner, Joanne used to be a fan, but she thinks it is too early for him to mount a comeback.
“I think that people want to make sure that the immaturity is gone, and whatever else was the problem,” she said. “These men have to grow up a little bit, huh? This is not a frat house! This is adult time, no?”
“No way, no way at all,” said a middle-aged Bayside woman named Janice when asked about Weiner’s possible return to politics. “There are venal sins and mortal sins, and that’s a mortal one. I’m not a religious person, but there’s no way. He has a right to go on with his life, and he has a right to be forgiven and get a decent job, but not to be a leader.”
Janice said she is also leaning towards voting for Quinn, who she says might need to grow into the role of mayor, but would be a good fit.
“She seems to care about the city, and she seems to, in some ways, have a personality that displays the city, like the mayors that we’ve had,” Janice said. “She’s very visible because she’s been standing right behind Bloomberg with everything. We in New York, we like a New Yorker, and she comes across like that.”