2011-06-15 / Front Page

Weiner Resigns Under Pressure

By John Toscano

Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner of Queens/Brooklyn.Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner of Queens/Brooklyn.Under intense pressure from his Democratic colleagues, his opponents and the press, Congressmember Anthony Weiner has resigned his Queens/Brooklyn seat, ending a 12-year career in Congress.
Weiner’s departure came on the heels of revelations that he had conducted sex-charged Internet relationships with at least six women, during which he sent out suggestive photos, and in at least one known case, a photo of his most private part.
In the midst of this career-shattering experience, it also was revealed that the Queens pol and his wife, Huma Abedin, are expecting their first child.
Also during the period when the shocking disclosures became the center of the media’s attention, speculation about who would succeed Weiner has grown into a list of about a dozen would-be candidates.
But there was also the possibility raised that Weiner’s 9th district seat would be eliminated with the creation of new legislative district lines throughout the state that are to be drawn up by the state legislature shortly.
As for the possible replacements for Weiner, the list of Democrats includes former Councilmembers Eric Gioia of Woodside and Melinda Katz of Forest Hills; Assemblymembers Rory Lancman of Fresh Meadows, David Weprin of Great Neck and Councilmember Mark Weprin of Oakland Gardens.
Republicans on the list include Councilmember Eric Ulrich of Ozone Park, Bob Turner of Breezy Point, who ran against Weiner last year, and Andy Sullivan, a Tea Party activist.
Governor Andrew Cuomo will be announcing the date for the special election shortly.
There was no support for Weiner as he acknowledged his involvement in the Internet sex scandal. Immediate negative reaction came from House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who called for a widespread ethics investigation into Weiner’s “sexting”.
Pelosi said the investigation would determine if any official resources were used in Weiner’s dalliances or if any House violations had occurred.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid showed a similar lack of support for Weiner as he told reporters he would do nothing to help Weiner to deal with the mess he had created.
Weiner, meanwhile, had said he would not resign on the day he confessed to his online activities with the six women, and forcefully repeated the no resignation pledge in the days that followed.
But two days after he admitted to the scandal, House Democrats, again led by Pelosi, started a concerted effort to get Weiner to resign.
Pelosi led it off by saying that Weiner was becoming too much of a problem for his colleagues and their plans to try to win back control of the House in next year’s elections. In other words, aside from the embarrassment that Weiner was bringing upon his colleagues, there were much more important political reasons to have him resign and end the distraction he was causing.
Pelosi also had a personal grudge against Weiner because in an earlier stage of the story’s emergence, he lied to the public about the extent of his involvement, and she supported him, in effect, vouching for his lies.
Another reason for the Democrats’ effort to have Weiner resign, may have been that on June 8, it was revealed that Weiner had sent one of his women texting friends a picture of his genitals.
Among the first to call Weiner and join Pelosi’s push for him to resign was Congressmember Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Israel reportedly minced no words with Weiner and told him his standing in Washington was rapidly deteriorating as new disclosures surfaced.
Another key Democrat calling for Weiner’s resignation was Congressmember Allyson Schwartz, of Pennsylvania, who was described as a Pelosi ally who’s in charge of recruiting the Democratic Party’s candidates for the 2012 elections.
“In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign,” Schwartz stated after noting his loss of respect from his constituents.
Other Democrats who beseeched Weiner to resign that day were Congressmembers Mike Ross of Arkansas, Michael Michand of Maine, Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
Earlier, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez (D–Brooklyn), whose district includes a small portion of Ridgewood in Queens, said she told Weiner, “How can you explain that somebody can be so smart but so stupid.” When asked if Weiner should resign, she stated, “The most important thing in this business is credibility.”
Meanwhile, other Queens congressmembers had refused to join in with the calls to resign.
There were also reports that Weiner had angered many of his regular campaign contributors, and there was a chance they might desert him if he continued in office. The reports said some donors were shocked because prior to his admission, he had lied to them, telling them he was a victim of a right-wing conspiracy.
Weiner’s resignation from Congress appears to end totally any chance that he’ll run for mayor in 2013. At the onset of these career-shattering revelations, it was felt that he still had time to rebuild his career and possibly run for mayor again. However, being out of Congress means Weiner has cut himself off from any meaningful political exposure, so making a run for such an important job as mayor of New York City virtually becomes an impossible dream.
Weiner started his political career as an aide to then Congressmember Charles Schumer in Brooklyn, a post he held from 1985 to 1991. At the tender age of 27, Weiner decided to seek a City Council seat, and he won, becoming the youngest person at the time to become a councilmember.
Then in 1999, Schumer decided to run for the U.S. Senate, so Weiner took the opportunity to run for Schumer’s vacated 9th congressional district seat. Weiner won re-election five times after that easily.
Why a successful congressmember would embark on such an unseemly course of action in his private life, even after marrying Huma Abedin, a highly respected Washingtonian, seems to be beyond explanation. This is especially true in the present political climate, where opposing political parties are eager to seize any opportunity to take down a sitting lawmaker.

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