Sunday, July 13, 2014

Voters pass judgment on Weiner, Spitzer comebacks

September 10. 2013 4:38PM
Associated Press

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(AP) Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, two brash New Yorkers whose careers were shattered by sex scandals, sought political redemption in Tuesday's primaries after a campaign season that played out at times like a lurid reality show.

And at least one of them looked likely to be voted off the stage.

As primary day arrived, the polls had Weiner, a one-time front-runner for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York, languishing in fourth place, his image probably in worse shape than when he jumped into the race.

Those same polls had Spitzer locked in a tight contest for city comptroller.

Both Democrats' attempts at a comeback started strong.

Weiner had been in political exile since he resigned from Congress in 2011 for sending women lewd online messages and pictures.

He got into the mayor's race in May, and aside from a few dust-ups with hecklers, was largely well-received at first, holding the lead for most of June and July.

But then an obscure gossip website named The Dirty released X-rated exchanges between Weiner and a 22-year-old woman that took place well after the candidate quit the House.

Weiner and his wife, top Hillary Rodham Clinton aide Huma Abedin, held an emergency news conference in which the candidate vowed to stay in the race. But his campaign never recovered.

He plunged in the polls. He increasingly engaged in angry exchanges with voters, including a shouting match in a Brooklyn bakery last week. And his media attention largely dried up, except for the occasional combative interview and late-night talk show mockery of his online sexting pseudonym, "Carlos Danger."

Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 after admitting he paid for sex with prostitutes. In exile he bounced around television as a pundit. Then, just four days before the deadline, he announced he was running for comptroller.

Unlike Weiner, who made a point of fielding voters' questions about his scandal, Spitzer apologized a few times and then refused to talk about it.

He largely eschewed retail campaigning situations that could have led to awkward exchanges with voters in favor of national TV interviews and a big-budget television ad campaign, financed with his own millions.

Spitzer played up his time as "Sheriff of Wall Street" while New York attorney general and focused his campaign on minorities living outside Manhattan.

He took early lead in the polls, but the race tightened dramatically in recent weeks as the Democratic establishment rallied around his opponent, Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president.

Associated Press

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