Will Weiner continue to woo black voters?
In 2011, Anthony Weiner, who is currently running for Mayor of New York City, was forced to resign from his seat in the House of Representatives after he admitted that he had sent explicit photos and carried on sexually charged conversations with young women—obviously not his then-pregnant wife, Huma Abedin—on the Internet. His wife, unsurprisingly, decided to stand by him.
Several political men have been caught in scandals involving other women—President Bill Clinton, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and former U.S. Senator John Edwards, just to name a few (from a long list). The trend is that their wives stay, even publicly expressing forgiveness of and support for their husbands. At least, Abedin stopped short of that—the first time Weiner got caught.
Now Weiner, who was leading in the election polls largely due to the black vote before his latest scandal hit, is yet again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite his claims in People magazine before he announced his bid for mayoral candidacy that he was a changed man, he has continued the behavior that got him booted out of Congress.
Weiner’s sexting scandal #2
This week, TheDirty.com published sexually explicit conversations and photos from Weiner that showed he continued his pattern of sexting young women on the Internet after his resignation. At an awkward news conference on Tuesday, Weiner appeared with his wife and owned up to the latest round of pictures and racy conversations.
Weiner’s wife called her husband’s actions, “horrible mistakes”, then added, “I love him, I have forgiven him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.” She meant the marriage, and his mayoral campaign.
Despite pleas for Weiner to drop out of the race such as The New York Times editorial suggesting, “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,” Weiner has decided to stay in the race.
The politics of marriage
What I don’t understand is why his wife is still with him. This is the second time he publicly embarrassed himself and made a mockery of his marriage. And who knows how many times—and with how many women—he has continued to cheat on her with, even after he was caught on the first go round.
In an interview for the New York Post, a political strategist summed up the situation succinctly: “They are that power hungry that she stands there and she accepts the absolute disgracefulness of serial cheating from her husband… Huma comes from the Clinton school of forgiveness — power is more important than dignity.”
It’s clear where Huma stands, but what of the black vote that’s been fueling Weiner in the polls? Earlier this month, The Christian Science Monitor reported that Weiner’s lead was most significant among black voters, who prefer Weiner over former city Controller William Thompson, a black candidate who appealed to more than 75 percent of black voters in the last mayoral election. Not so much now.
Why blacks loved Weiner
The article attributed black New Yorkers’ preference for Weiner to his outspoken stance on Stop and Frisk police procedures, which disproportionately affect the city’s black and Latino population. Thompson has not been as vocal, according to the article. Another reason suggested was the “strong culture of faith and forgiveness among black voters,” meaning that blacks are more likely to give disgraced candidates a second shot.
Perhaps that is true. But as concerned as black voters may be about police procedure, I predict Weiner will lose his strong hold in the community after his latest scandal. It’s hard to offer forgiveness and move on to focus on the big picture when a candidate is still shamelessly and blatantly repeating the mistakes of his past.
Even as Weiner embarked on his first apology tour, a timeline of his apology tour of interviews shows he was continuing to sext young women even as he declared himself to be “a very different man” to People.
Will African-Americans make a change?
So far among all Democrats, Weiner has lost his lead by nine percentage points. Since his latest scandal, he now ranks number two overall compared to the new frontrunner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Despite losing among Democrats overall, will Weiner maintain his popularity in the black community?
Post sexting mess number two, black Democrats now see Weiner as at least comparable to Thompson.
Weiner’s second round of the same scandal isn’t just an embarrassing revelation that should remain a personal matter. It’s a distraction from the real issues and an indication of his profound lack of self control. His wife may be willing to overlook that, but I hope that black voters do not.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria). Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk.