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Why Anthony Weiner might stay in New York mayor's race

Editorials and national leaders have urged Anthony Weiner to drop out, following the tawdry revelations this week. But the candidate could be pressing on for several reasons.

By Staff writer / July 26, 2013

Anthony Weiner, New York mayoral candidate, listens during a news conference Thursday in New York.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

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New York

Embattled New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is pressing on with his bid to lead America’s largest city – even if he’s dogged by hecklers on the campaign trail, as well as late-night comedians giddy with jokes about Carlos Danger “selfies” and sex-chat paramour Sydney Leathers.

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Mr. Weiner stopped Thursday at Masbia Flatbush, a kosher soup kitchen, to peel carrots and help volunteers prepare meals for this “free restaurant” in the heart of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. He was promoting his plan to establish a “nonprofit czar” for the city, a liaison between the mayor’s office and charitable organizations.

Although his wife, Huma Abedin, a close adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, did not attend the event, Weiner has given no indication he plans to drop out of the race. Even as editorials and national leaders have urged him to do so, he has insisted that the race should be about the issues that matter to New Yorkers – not about him.

But with his lead in the race all but evaporated, according to a poll released Thursday, many are asking, do his policy positions even matter anymore? Is he still a viable candidate?

If he’s not, what’s the point of continuing?

“Citizens have a right to decide for themselves whether this personal behavior ... is important to them,” Weiner said to a host of reporters at Masbia. “I understand I brought this upon myself, but I want to return to having a conversation. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to, but I certainly want to try.”

It’s a conversation proving more and more difficult – attested to by the fact that one woman interrupted the event to shout, “I’m a neighborhood resident and I’m an observant Jew, and we want nothing to do with the likes of Anthony Weiner!” The woman was asked to leave by kitchen workers, yet even so, there was little talk about his idea for a “nonprofit czar.”

Weiner’s lead over his rivals in the polls is now gone. He currently trails City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has retaken the front-runner’s mantle with 25 percent of the city’s registered Democrats, according to Thursday’s NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.

Still, Weiner is second with 16 percent, a statistical tie with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has 14 percent, and with last mayoral election’s runner-up William Thompson, also preferred by 14 percent of primary voters.  

“I don't think Weiner can win now,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “I'll even be mildly surprised if he makes the runoff. There's just too much sleaze in the headlines, and even in this age of remarkable public tolerance for sins of the flesh, there are limits. Weiner's reached them.”

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