NEW YORK — Anthony Weiner’s rivals were split Wednesday on whether the ex-lawmaker should drop his bid for mayor after he admitted that he continued to send sexual messages to women he met online even after he was forced out of Congress over the issue.
Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker who has been statistically tied with Weiner in recent Democratic primary polls, said the latest revelations called into question whether Weiner has the “maturity and judgment” to lead. But she stopped short of calling for him to exit the race, saying that was a “decision for him to make.”
"The circus that former Congressman Weiner has brought to the race in the last two months has been a disservice to New Yorkers who are actually looking for someone who has the judgment and maturity to lead this city and a mayor who has the record of actually delivering that,” Quinn said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “Being mayor of New York is a serious business and it demands a serious leader. Instead, we see a pattern of reckless behavior, consistently poor judgment and difficulty with the truth. New Yorkers deserve something completely different.”
Being mayor, Quinn added, is a not a job about “self aggrandizement.”
But three other mayoral hopefuls — Democrats Bill de Blasio and Sal Albanese and Republican John Catsimatidis — have called on Weiner to exit the race.
De Blasio, the city’s public advocate who has struggled to gain traction in the polls, sent a message to supporters Wednesday asking them to sign a petition urging Weiner to drop his campaign so that the candidates could focus on “serious” issues in the race.
“Right now the conversation in this campaign is neither serious nor critical — it's a joke,” de Blasio wrote. “You deserve to know how we would use the power of the office to make life better for people in all neighborhoods. But the sideshows of this election have gotten in the way of the debate we should be having about the future of our city.”
His comments echoed editorials in the two of New York's major newspapers — The Daily News and the New York Times — which called for Weiner to quit the race.
"At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told," the Times editorial read. "In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.
But Weiner has given no indication he plans to give up on his bid to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In an email sent to supporters Wednesday afternoon, the mayoral hopeful sought to explain his "personal failings" and insisted "the 'news' today is about my past life.'"
"Some people may find my personal life reason not to listen to me. I completely understand that some may not ever even consider voting for me," Weiner wrote. "But I'm going to keep trying to bring them around and earn their support. This fight is too important to give up, because I've had embarrassing personal things become public."
He added, "This race for mayor isn’t about me. It's about you. And I'll never lose sight of that. New Yorkers don't quit, and I'll never quit on you."
The latest developments came less than 24 hours after Weiner admitted that he was the author of dozens of lewd messages a woman shared with the gossip website The Dirty — messages she said were sent as recently as last summer.
At a press conference Tuesday, where he was joined by his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, Weiner admitted that he had continued to exchange sexual messages with women up until last year — even after he was forced out of Congress in June 2011 over the issue.
“It’s in our rear-view mirror but not far,” Weiner told reporters, though he added that his behavior was now “behind” him and that his marriage was stronger than ever. It was a statement backed up by the normally press-shy Abedin, who emotionally told reporters she had forgiven her husband.
On Tuesday night, Harper's Bazaar published an essay Abedin wrote for the magazine's September issue, in which she explains why she's backing her husband's effort to return to politics — in spite of the attention it has attracted to their personal lives.
"Anthony has always been a smart, caring, and dedicated person, and while he’s the same public servant who wants what’s best for the people he represents, he is now something else — a better man," Abedin writes. "New Yorkers will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give him a second chance. I had to make that same decision for myself, for my son, for our family. And I know in my heart that I made the right one."