After Weiner’s Resignation, What Comes Next?


congressRep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) finally resigned Thursday afternoon. The embattled congressman fought to hang on to his seat. Here’s a look at what’s next for Weiner and for his spot in the U.S. Congress:

How will his seat be filled?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must first declare the Congressional seat vacant. Once he does, he has to set an election date within 70 to 80 days. Both parties will nominate candidates for the district, a heavily white, ethnic neighborhood in Queens and Brooklyn that Weiner has represented since 1998.

Whoever wins the seat can’t count on occupying it long, however. New York will lose two congressional seats this year as its share of the U.S. population has declined. That could make Weiner’s district – which no longer has a senior incumbent – an easy target for elimination.

Who are prospective successors?

Republican Erich Ulrich, a New York City Councilman, has reportedly met with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and has his blessing. Other Republicans mentioned as possible candidates: Bob Turner, the party’s 2010 nominee, and New York State Judge Noach Dear. He ran against Weiner as a Democrat in 1998 and later switched parties to oppose him–again unsuccessfully–in the general election.

Democrats have been slower to signal interest, as they waited for Weiner to make a decision. The names being circulated include New York City Councilman Mark Weprin and ex-Council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia.

New York’s 9th district is traditionally a Democratic stronghold and Weiner won reelection with comfortable margins. But the district has been trending Republican in recent years. While Democratic nominee Al Gore got 67 percent of the vote in 2000, Barack Obama won the district with only 55 percent in 2008.

The slide has given rise to speculation that a strong GOP candidate could give the Republicans the seat in the special election. But that still looks unlikely. The balance of power in the district has more to do with ethnic considerations than partisan ones. The bigger Queens portion of the district includes diversifying, more-liberal enclaves such as Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, and Rego Park, while the smaller Brooklyn portion (Sheepshead Bay) has a mostly white ethnic population, including many conservative Russian immigrants. They voted heavily for 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain. The two parts are likely to be divided in redistricting.

Democrats were riding a small wave before the scandal broke. They won an unlikely Congressional victory in a special election in upstate New York by running against an unpopular Republican proposal to reform Medicare. Now that momentum has been lost, and they will have a tough time bringing the conversation back to that issue.

Weinergate had also started to be a distraction to the President’s efforts to start his 2012 campaign. He, too, was forced to answer questions about whether Weiner should go rather than concentrating on the economic message he’s trying to get across to voters. And at a time when the public’s confidence in Obama and the Democrats to resolve the country’s problems is already low, it hardly helped to have a party member embroiled in a distracting scandal. Democratic politicians, asked repeatedly Thursday about the steps that led to Weiner’s ouster, uniformly wanted to talk about the future and to put Weinergate behind them.

Will this be an issue Republicans can use against Democrats?

Only at their peril. Scandals seem to be an equal-opportunity issue in Washington. Still, this may be one of those cases where Republicans don’t need to do or say anything to reap the political benefits: by hanging on and allowing the slow daily drip of revelations to stretch out the scandal, Weiner has done plenty of damage to the Democrats himself without the GOP needing to throw additional fuel on the fire.

What will happen to Weiner now?

Weiner’s future is unclear, though speculation is already rife that he’ll eventually try to make a political comeback. One thing looks clear from financial disclosure forms released Wednesday: having lost his $174,000 a year job, Weiner will have to find another job. The filings show that the former Congressman has a portfolio worth $16,017 to $117,000, with investments in Hewlett-Packard, Corning, 3M, Dow Chemical, and Sony. And he would clearly be better off if the scandal doesn’t also cost him his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The single largest asset listed is shared with his wife — between $100,001 and $250,000 in the NIH Federal Credit Union. (The filings do not require details about a lawmaker’s primary residence.)

{National Journal/ Newscenter}



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