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Confirming the worst-kept secret in politics, former Rep. Anthony Weiner has announced he’s running for New York City mayor—telling voters that he wants a second chance in politics.
"I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons," Weiner said in the two-minute YouTube video released on Wednesday. "I'm running for mayor because I've been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance."
The move comes nearly two years after Weiner was forced to resign from Congress after he acknowledged sexting with women who were not his wife. Last month, the ex-lawmaker kicked off a public amends tour, giving his first major interview since the scandal to the New York Times magazine. In the interview, he called the mayoral race a case of “now or maybe never for me.”
In the video, Weiner is shown with his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their young son, Jordan, in a move clearly meant to emphasize his family values.
“Every day starts right here,” Weiner says in a voice-over, as footage shows him in his kitchen with his wife and son. “And it’s the best part of my day.”
It also features footage of Weiner walking through Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he grew up, talking about how much he loves New York and emphasizing his middle-class roots as the son of a schoolteacher and a lawyer who got his start working from home. Stories like theirs, Weiner says in the video, “is how this city was built, but it’s getting harder and harder every day.” He adds, “The very people who put everything they had into this city are getting priced right out of it, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Weiner’s message is likely to be popular amid growing concerns about rising rents and the high cost of living in New York. But he enters an already crowded Democratic field of hopefuls clamoring to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, considered the front-runner in the race.
It’s unclear how willing voters will be to forgive Weiner for his transgressions, but politics has long been a career of second chances. Just weeks ago, South Carolina voters sent former Gov. Mark Sanford to Congress. Sanford had been written off politically after admitting he had been engaged in an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina during his tenure as governor.
But Weiner enters the race with lots of money. His most recent campaign report revealed he has just over $5.1 million in the bank—second only to Quinn, who reported $7 million.
In the video, the ex-lawmaker talks up his record in Congress, arguing he “got a billion dollars” to hire more New York City police officers, worked to offer assistance to sick first responders after the 9/11 attacks and “led the campaign” to overhaul the nation’s health insurance industry.
“We can make a difference if we are willing to fight for it,” Weiner says in the video.
The ad concludes with footage of Weiner sitting on the porch of his childhood home with Abedin, who makes a direct appeal for her husband’s candidacy. For many voters, the moment is likely to be the first time they’ve ever heard Abedin’s voice, because she is known for avoiding the media.
“We love this city,” she tells the camera. “And no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”