Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weiner Decides to Stay Out of Mayoral Campaign by Michael Barbaro and David W. Chen -

Read original...

Representative Anthony D. Weiner, the one-time front-runner in the campaign for mayor who became a frustrated sideline player, has made it official: he is staying out of the race.

His decision all but ensures that the city’s comptroller, William C. Thompson Jr., will not face a serious challenger in the Democratic primary. Mr. Weiner is expected to announce his plans at a news conference outside his parents’ home in Brooklyn on Wednesday, according to a person briefed on the matter.

In an Op-Ed page article to be published on Wednesday in The New York Times, Mr. Weiner suggests that his — or anyone’s — chances of beating Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has already spent $19 million on his re-election campaign, are slim.

“As a native of Brooklyn, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t savor a good scrap,” Mr. Weiner wrote. “But I’m disappointed because I’m increasingly convinced a substantive debate isn’t likely right now.”

Mr. Weiner, a six-term congressman, also said that with his party controlling both Congress and the White House, he could accomplish more by focusing on legislation in Washington than by waging a distracting and probably fruitless campaign for mayor in New York.

Mr. Weiner’s exit, first reported on Tuesday on the Web site, deprives the campaign of its most colorful and confrontational candidate. Mr. Weiner is known as a tireless political street fighter — and trash talker — who had outmaneuvered opponents in races for the City Council and Congress.

But, as his opinion piece in The Times made clear, even the relentlessly driven Mr. Weiner could not find a way to overcome Mr. Bloomberg’s advantages, especially his money.

A year ago, Mr. Weiner was perhaps the most high-profile mayoral candidate. In October, however, Mr. Bloomberg persuaded the City Council to revise the city’s term limits law and allow him to serve another four years, drastically altering Mr. Weiner’s calculus.

The congressman seemed not only vexed by the difficulty of fighting the incumbent, but personally stung and deflated by the turn of events, and he seemed to disappear from view for several months.

Mr. Weiner wrote that Mr. Bloomberg’s intention to spend more than $80 million on his campaign would allow the mayor to “swamp” an opponent.

“With spending like that, regular debates about real issues will probably take a back seat to advertising,” he wrote.

Running against Mr. Thompson, his Democratic rival, Mr. Weiner wrote, “would only drain the ability of the winner to compete in the general election.”

Mr. Weiner is among the few political figures in the city who seem to rattle the supremely confident Mr. Bloomberg, and appears almost to relish antagonizing the mayor. His exit, in some ways, is a victory for Bloomberg campaign aides, who sought to knock him out of the race.

Over the last few days, as his self-imposed deadline for deciding whether to enter the mayor’s race neared, Mr. Weiner huddled with his longtime advisors in Washington: Jim Margolis, a media strategist; Anson Kaye, a political strategist; Joel Benenson, a pollster; and Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s companion, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The congressman hinted in his Op-ed article that personal considerations played a role in his decision, too. An unmarried workaholic who plays in midnight hockey games and attributes his slim physique to a nonstop metabolism, he implied that he was ready to settle down.

“I’d also like to build a family,” Mr. Weiner wrote in The Times.