Redistricting Could Give Dems Escape Hatch in Weiner Dilemma

Friday, 10 Jun 2011 12:28 PM

By Martin Gould

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Disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner’s desperate attempts to save his congressional career in the wake of his sexting scandal all could be in vain, as his seat is now being targeted for extinction under redistricting.

Observers see it as an easy way out for Democrats if Weiner continues to embarrass his party by refusing to step down.

Anthony Weiner, scandal, sexting, DemocratsNew York has to lose two seats following last year’s census. The 9th District, which contains a narrow swath of land in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, could be carved up easily, leaving Weiner with nowhere to go by the time of the 2012 election. The second seat likely to go would be upstate.

Writing in Salon, Mark Greenburg says few New Yorkers in Congress would be sorry to see Weiner go, as he was unpopular even before the scandal that exposed him for texting pictures of his genitals to women he met on Twitter and Facebook.

The seats of three other New York Democrats — Carolyn Maloney, Eliot Engel, and Gary Ackerman — originally were seen as vulnerable under redistricting, Greenburg writes, adding, “but Weiner’s embarrassing scandal changes this calculus and puts the biggest target squarely on his back.”

Weiner reiterated on Thursday that he would not resign, even as support among Democrats ebbed away. Even his political mentor, Sen. Charles Schumer, who represented the 9th District before his election to the Senate, has stayed uncharacteristically quiet during the scandal.

Apart from a bland statement saying that Weiner “did the right thing” by explaining himself, apologizing, and taking responsibility for his actions at his tearful Monday news conference, camera-loving Schumer has dodged all questions about his protégé.

Others have not stayed silent. At least seven Democrats in the House and two in the Senate have called for him to go. The latest to join the bandwagon is Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who said, “It’s time for him to go.

“The initial act was reprehensible. The effort to mislead people after the fact was not appropriate either,” said Matheson, who serves with Weiner on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Although Weiner’s colleagues want him out, his constituents apparently do not. An NY1-Marist poll conducted on Wednesday showed that 56 percent of registered voters in the 9th District said he should stay, while only 33 percent said he should quit. Twelve percent were unsure.

But when it comes to the next election, assuming that his seat still exists, 30 percent said they would vote for him, 31 percent would vote against and 38 percent were undecided.

The pressure on Weiner is sure to increase next week, when the House returns and he has to see his colleagues face to face. Many of those who have not called for him to quit immediately, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer, say he should face an ethics committee hearing.

If that hearing ever happens, it is likely to focus on whether Weiner used government equipment and whether any of his interactions were with underage women. There has been no proof of that so far.

He also could be investigated under the broad provision that he broke the rule that says any congressman should “conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibility on the House.”


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