The next mayor of New York City will not be Anthony Weiner. Or John Liu. Or Sal Albanese. Or the “Rent is Too Damn High” Guy. And somehow, after being the favorite for three years heading into the election, City Council speaker and Bloomberg protege Christine Quinn can now be added to the list of defeated hopefuls.
Her fall can be attributed almost entirely, albeit indirectly, to the man who she beat by only a few points in her eventual third place finish –– yes, Anthony Weiner again. The scandal-plagued former congressman finished in fifth with less than five percent of the vote in last Tuesday’s Democratic primary, but Quinn did not do much better herself, finishing with just over 15 percent of the vote.
Quinn seemed to have the race locked up. Although she was open to attack for her support of Bloomberg’s third term and history of disagreements with the city’s large labor unions, she had all the liberal chops needed in the Big Apple: she supported a bill to provide paid sick leave to city workers, has been a proud supporter of LGBT rights and is happily married to her wife under New York’s recent marriage equality statute. The city and the momentum were both on her side.
And then Carlos Danger walked in. For a little while, Anthony Weiner had a great shot at halting Quinn’s momentum and becoming New York City’s next mayor. Weiner was able to draw on liberal hesitance about Quinn’s moderate positions by presenting himself as a strong advocate for the middle class against some relatively unpopular Bloomberg policies.
Of course, more details soon came out and Weiner became both a “Daily Show” punch line and a professional jerk –– not just for the “Carlos Danger” name, which he used as an online pseudonym –– he also has regularly spent his time vilifying the media, including imitating a British reporter’s accent, telling Buzzfeed that they should go back to showing “videos of cats” and imitating a Caribbean accent at the West Indian Day parade. He even ended his campaign by flipping off a reporter before driving off after his concession speech.
Once Weiner tanked, there was no way to staunch the flow of liberal, anti-Quinn, anti-Bloomberg sentiment. Other progressive candidates gained steam, including 2009 nominee Bill Thompson, who used this shift to propel himself to a second place finish. But the biggest beneficiary of Weiner’s fall was New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a previously little-known liberal candidate whose campaign seized on public opposition to the city’s “stop and frisk” policy, wherein police officers selectively target black and Hispanic New Yorkers at a disproportionate rate for random searches.
De Blasio seized on this combination of an opening for a liberal candidate and opposition to stop and frisk with an ad featuring his biracial son, who promised that his dad was the best candidate to fight the policies that targeted people like himself. This, combined with De Blasio’s focus on economic inequality, evidenced by his slogan that New York is a “tale of two cities,” propelled him to the front of the crowded field and helped him win Tuesday’s mayoral primary. He had no chance heading in, and now he will likely be the next mayor of the largest city in the country, pending a win in the general election over Republican nominee Joe Lhota. The general election will probably be even easier than the primary because Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York City by a margin of 6 to 1. In addition, De Blasio’s opponent is best known for heading the city’s public transit system during multiple fare hikes and for stating that he would not stop subway service to save kittens trapped in the tracks, leading to a bizarre debate response where he declared that he was not the “anti-kitten candidate.”
The city’s voters are ready for a change after twelve years of Mayor Bloomberg leading the city and will most likely elect the Democrat who emerges from the primary. Against all odds, de Blasio has somehow become that guy.
So even though it seems like everybody hates Anthony Weiner, and he is trying to make everyone hate him, Bill de Blasio needs to at least write a thank you letter to Weiner for paving the way to his victory. He should just make sure that it is not a text. Otherwise Carlos Danger may strike again, if you know what I mean.