Anthony Weiner, talking about an ‘ideas primary,’ is getting ahead of himself
In his first televised interview since resigning from office over a sext scandal, Anthony Weiner said he is interested in running for mayor, and in particular, of being part of an "ideas primary."
To that end, Weiner has re-released to the Times a policy book, which is mostly a slightly refurbished version of his 2009 policy book. (The word "impotent" has been removed; the word "investor" has been replaced with "private equity firm;" an image of Weiner himself has been removed from the cover.)
In yesterday's interview with NY1, Weiner tried to keep the focus on that policy book, though with limited success: in parrying questions from Errol Louis, he came up with lines like "I don't want to create a dynamic where the privacy of people is being impinged upon," as a means of establishing that he is done talking about the scandal that brought him down.
But that's not really up to him, any more than it was when he tried the same method, repeating prefabricated lines, as a means of ending questions about the scandal as it was still unfolding.
(It'll be worth watching how he handles this going forward, given that he couldn't stop himself from evincing frustration at the reasonable-seeming questions he was asked by the Times' Michael Grynbaum, who is too good and self-respecting a reporter to constrain himself to prediscussed topic matter in exchange for the privilege of receiving a Weiner exclusive.)
During the policy-dedicated portion of the NY1 interview, Weiner was asked about one major issue that mayoral candidates are debating now, which they weren't talking about the last time he ran (either in 2005 or in 2009, when he aborted his run): curbing stop-and-frisk and creating an office of inspector general for the New York Police Department.
Weiner gave the now-standard Democratic answer on stop-and-frisk, saying it should be reduced, but he declined to say how much. He was clear in saying, like all the Democratic candidates except for John Liu, that he didn't want it abolished.
On the subject of a proposal in the City Council to create a police inspector general, Weiner went further right, saying he opposed the plan because it reduced the responsiblity the mayor had over the police force, echoing the complaint Republicans have about the bill.
(Liu opposes the bill for not going far enough in overseing the police; Bill Thompson supports the bill, but not in its current form, because he wants the I.G. to answer to the police commissioner, ensuring a clear chain of command.)
So, Weiner is quite literally sticking to his 2009 playbook, and tacking right on public safety issues. Which puts him exactly where, in the mayor's race?
Maggie Haberman says a Weiner candidacy would take votes away from Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio. And the candidate reactions so far to Weiner's threatened comeback seem to indicate that they agree: Thompson and Liu both indicated that they'd welcome him into the Democratic primary with open arms, and there's little reason to doubt them.
One candidate I spoke to floated a theory that Weiner could skip the Democratic primary altogether and runs on a minor-party line, suggesting that may be his best shot at having a meaningful impact on the race.
Which may in turn explain why the single harshest reaction to a prospective Weiner candidacy has come from Adolfo Carrion, Jr., the Independence Party candidate, who said flatly it was too soon for Weiner to return. Whatever shot Carrion has of making an impact with his Independence Party-basked bid, as I wrote earlier, is predicated on bloody and divisive major-party primaries. But that assumes no credible competition for him from another independent.
But before any of that, it's up to Weiner to demonstrate that he's actually got something to say now, beyond the controlled airing-out of his scandal laundry. He's already showing signs of being frustrated at his treatment as a maybe-candidate. And if he's actually going to follow through and run, the worst is most certainly yet to come.