Rep. Anthony Weiner insisted he will not resign, but a cloud now looms over the New York Democrat’s once-bright political future. His New York City mayoral ambitions are all but dead, and his hold on his Congressional seat is in jeopardy.
Empire State Republicans and Democrats suggested Tuesday that media coverage during the next 48 hours could very well determine the Democratic Congressman’s fate. In a Monday press conference now cemented in political lore, Weiner admitted to having sexual communications with six women in recent years, even after he was married.
He spent much of last week lying about it.
“I may be one of the few people who believes he can survive this whole thing, but that doesn’t mean he can be mayor,” a top New York Democratic operative said Tuesday. “Like they say in Brooklyn, ‘Fuhgidaboudit.’”
Even with the 2013 mayoral race out of the mix, major questions remain about whether Weiner’s Congressional career will survive long enough to face a re-election battle next fall and what sort of challenges he might face — from the left and from the right — if it does.
Weiner will largely face these questions alone.
With the memory of a painful midterm election cycle still fresh, would-be allies appear to be scrambling for cover, fearing they might be tainted by the fallout of yet another New York sex scandal. House Democratic leaders have called for an ethics investigation. And Weiner’s mentor, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), said he was “deeply pained and saddened” by the revelations.
Further, New York’s Congressional Democrats are largely sitting on their hands, as the prospect of redistricting leaves some hoping Weiner will go away.
The Empire State will lose two Congressional seats in 2012 because of population losses. And because control of the state Legislature is divided, each party expects to lose one seat when the new political boundaries are finalized in the coming months. A Weiner resignation could make it far easier for the Legislature to determine which Democratic seat to eliminate.
“Every member of the delegation is praying he resigns because it’ll take pressure off them,” said the Democratic operative, acknowledging that it’s unclear whether it actually would take pressure off downstate Democrats or not.
The conventional wisdom on that front seems to be changing weekly, the source added.
Taking in parts of Queens and Brooklyn, Weiner’s 9th district touches six other Democratic districts, including that of Rep. Gary Ackerman, who has been considered among the more endangered downstate Democrats along with nearby Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, is fighting to ensure Weiner’s colleagues feel the heat, regardless of whether they support him.
The House GOP campaign arm on Tuesday attacked Democrats in more than 15 districts, from Minnesota to Connecticut, calling attention to their receipt of campaign donations from the embattled Congressman. Three New York Democrats — Reps. Bill Owens, Brian Higgins and Tim Bishop — are on the list.