Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
Surprising few, Rep. Anthony Weiner today ended speculation that he may enter the New York mayoral race, declaring in a New York Times Op-Ed that he is focused on making a difference in Washington, while likening a campaign against billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg to facing off a football team of 110 players with only ten teammates at his side.
What was surprising was the lukewarm praise Weiner initially dished out for the Democratic frontrunner, Comptroller William Thompson. “I have respect for [Thompson],” Weiner wrote, “a respect that only reinforces my conclusion that running in the primary against him in September would only drain the ability of the winner to compete in the general election.”
Almost every word of that statement is practical, and falls short of the kind of endorsement you might expect one Democrat to give another that he actually wants to win. For example, here is Weiner’s endorsement of Fernando Ferrer after Weiner ended his primary campaign in 2005:
“I am proud to support Freddy Ferrer. He will be a great mayor. He will serve two terms. He has the record, he has the brains, he has the commitment, he has the understanding to not only run circles around Republican Mike Bloomberg, but to lift up our city.”
Just after noting his “respect” for Thompson, Weiner writes that, notwithstanding Bloomberg’s end run around the term limits law and his spending barrage, the incumbent “has tried to be innovative in some areas, and he has avoided the racial politics that can cripple our city.” He then promises to “work with Mayor Bloomberg whenever I can” while opposing policies he finds harmful to the middle class.
Contrast that with what Weiner said just over five months ago when, according to the Times, he blasted Bloomberg for “the worst kind of boom and bust planning” and an “old fashioned way of thinking.” Two months later, he said “I think his most profound success was gaining mayoral control [of public schools], and his biggest failure is what he’s done with it.”
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Weiner seemed to go in two directions at once, first saying “I want [Bloomberg’s] administration and our city to be a success.”
When pressed on this by a reporter, Weiner said “I’m going to be supporting the Democratic nominee because I want the Democratic party to be successful.”
When asked about Thompson’s chances, Weiner later said “Bill Thompson has been a successful politician in this town. He has won a lot of races,” still saying nothing about the comptroller’s nearly eight-year tenure and his ideas for City Hall. He did, however, say he had spoken to Thompson and “offered to do anything” he needs in the campaign.
On Sunday, at the Salute to Israel Parade, Weiner went further in a bid to give Thompson a boost among Jewish voters, saying ““Bill Thompson has always been committed to the needs of hard working New Yorkers, and for the past few years we’ve have seen these very people, the driving force behind our great city, struggle to remain in New York . Now, more than ever, we need a strong voice for all New Yorkers in City Hall. Bill Thompson will be that voice as Mayor.”
According to a Thompson statement, “Weiner also talked about the Bloomberg administration’s record property taxes and assessments, double-digit increases in water rates for three consecutive years, a proposed increase in the sales tax and support for every proposed transit fare increase. “
(While Thompson is not yet the nominee, the only likely contender in the Democratic primary is the lesser-known and surely underfunded Councilman Tony Avella of Queens.)