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Weiner's Meltdown Opens Door for De Blasio

Image:  Weiner's Meltdown Opens Door for De Blasio

By John Gizzi   |   Wednesday, 31 Jul 2013 09:49 AM

The demise of Anthony Weiner's attempt at a political comeback becomes increasingly obvious by the day, even if the former congressman doesn't seem to know it.

According to a Quinnipiac poll — conducted after Weiner admitted he had sent out suggestive messages on Twitter after revelations of similar "sexting" forced him to resign from Congress — only 16 percent of likely primary voters supported him for mayor. That's a 10-point drop from the 26 percent Weiner received in a July 24 Quinnipiac poll.

The biggest beneficiary of Weiner's implosion appears to be Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate and campaign manager of Hillary Clinton's winning U.S. Senate race in 2000. De Blasio, the candidate considered farthest to the left in the field, jumped from fourth place to second in the recent polling, while Weiner's poll numbers plummeted.

The recent survey showed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leading with 27 percent, de Blasio second at 21 percent, and 2009 Democratic nominee Bill Thompson at 20 percent for the September mayoral primary. De Blasio stood at 15 percent in the earlier poll, while Quinn increased from 22 percent.

Historian David Pietrusza, author of three best-selling books on presidential campaigns, noted the widespread contacts de Blasio made while an official in the administrations of former New York Mayor David Dinkins and President Bill Clinton, as well as from his oversight of Hillary Clinton's winning Senate race.

"De Blasio knows how to organize," Pietrusza told Newsmax. "He could turn out enough of the vote to qualify for the Oct. 1 runoff. Support from Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and Communications Workers of America District 1 will be a key."

Pietrusza said de Blasio "features support from the hard-core celebrity left — Alec Baldwin, Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon, and Harry Belafonte. His family is multi-racial, and a number of black elected officials have endorsed him rather than Bill Thompson [who is black]."

"Weiner's move to the top in the polls was a symptom of an uninteresting Democratic field," Pietrusza said. "Because of that, the real winner in September may depend on turnout. The candidacy of [former Democratic Gov. Eliot] Spitzer for city comptroller will increase turnout somewhat, but voting will still be fairly light and votes will be scattered."

There are similarities between Weiner's ongoing meltdown and those of past Democratic front-runners for mayor.

In the summer of 1973, Rep. Mario Biaggi, a much-decorated former policeman and tough law-and-order candidate, was considered the front-runner in the mayoral primary.

But after weeks of denying he took the Fifth Amendment before a grand jury, Biaggi suffered irreparable harm when published transcripts of the jury proceedings showed he had indeed pleaded the Fifth Amendment multiple times on issues ranging from a consulting fee for his daughter to private immigration bills he had introduced.

Biaggi ended up third in the four-candidate primary.

And in 1977, with much of the city blaming him for its plunge into near-penury, incumbent Democratic Mayor Abe Beame came in third in the primary in which the top two vote getters were Rep. Ed Koch — who went on to win — and Mario Cuomo, who went on to become governor.

Even if Weiner announced his withdrawal, it is too late for him to get off the primary ballot.  A showing in single digits may well be the most devastating result of all for him, as it would almost certainly end any hopes of still another political comeback attempt for a long time.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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