Anthony Weiner Hits Comeback Trail in Mayor's Race — With Scant Jewish Backing

Donors and Pols Shun Disgraced Lawmaker — So Far

Comeback Kid: A new poll shows Anthony Weiner has a chance of grabbing a good share of the Jewish vote in New York’s mayoral primary. So why are so few big-name donors lining up behind him?
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Comeback Kid: A new poll shows Anthony Weiner has a chance of grabbing a good share of the Jewish vote in New York’s mayoral primary. So why are so few big-name donors lining up behind him?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published June 03, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
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New York’s mayoral race finally has a Jewish candidate, but he’s not getting much organized Jewish support

Anthony Weiner’s much hyped announcement that he would run in the Democratic primary for New York City mayor was greeted with a collective shrug by Jewish activists and donors across New York City.

That’s in part because the Jewish power players are already committed to Weiner’s rivals. On the Upper West Side, liberal Jewish donors back Christine Quinn, the City Council president. Bill Thompson, who came surprisingly close to beating Michael Bloomberg in 2009, has support from Brooklyn’s Orthodox and Upper East Side influencers. Some liberal Jews are getting behind Bill de Blasio, who is running on a progressive ticket.

“Whether the Jewish community embraces Anthony’s mayoral candidacy depends less on the default setting of whether the candidate is Jewish, and more on a sincere evaluation of his positions and viability,” said Michael Tobman, a New York City-based political consultant.

READ: Weiner Gets Mixed Reaction at Celebrate Israel Parade

While Weiner may be short of big-name Jewish backers, it’s too early to count him out among rank-and-file Jewish voters. A Marist Poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of Weiner’s announcement that he would run in the primary found that Jewish Democrats preferred him to his rivals.

Amid the relatively small sample of roughly 70 Jewish Democrats, 23% reported that they preferred Weiner. Quinn trailed closely at 17%, followed by de Blasio at 16%. Those potentially heartening results for Weiner were tempered by a question showing that 44% of Jews had an unfavorable impression of Weiner compared with 40% who had a favorable impression — a far worse result than for any other candidate.

That poll was taken during a week of wall-to-wall Weiner coverage. Still, it could signify an opening for Weiner, as some Jewish voters have expressed a willingness to forgive him for the sexting scandal that drove him from Congress.

“We all, in our lives, we all have bumps in the road,” said Yelena Makhnin, a prominent member of the Brighton Beach Russian Jewish community. “We have some obstacles, and we have some problems. But to me, what is important [is] how you deal with it.”


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