A primer on what's next for the sexting congressman, his seat, his party and the GOP
The Anthony Weiner scandal story seems to — finally — be on its last legs. The congressman announced his resignation Thursday, speaking from a senior center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where his news was received with heckling. But before we close the book on this tawdry affair, a little housekeeping is in order.
What next for Weiner? President Obama (whose pronouncement earlier in the week that were he Wiener, he would resign, contributed the congressman’s decision) expressed confidence in Weiner. He told ABC News that he thinks Weiner will “refocus” and “bounce back.” Indeed, Eliott Spitzer (as is appropriate) advised that Weiner take time to reflect on his mistakes.
Alternatively, he could opt for a lucrative job in the porn industry. Pornographer Larry Flynt has already reached out to the politician (via a letter in the Huffington Post) with the offer of a job (including a 20 percent pay raise on his House of Representatives salary). “This offer is not made in jest,” wrote Flynt.
The seat: It is in the hands of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to officially declare Weiner’s seat vacant and to decide when to hold a special election. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “An aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor is expected to declare a special election for either Primary Day, Sept. 13, or Election Day, Nov. 8. The winner would serve the remainder of Mr. Weiner’s term, which ends in January 2013.” Both the Democrats and Republicans now will be organizing themselves to nominate candidates, but there is an added complication: As a result of redistricting, since New York State is slated to scrap two seats, Weiner’s district in Brooklyn and Queens might not end up existing — and not many people would want to put themselves forward to represent a nonexistent district.
The Republicans: Likely candidates for the Republican nomination here, reports the WSJ, are council member Eric Ulrich of Queens and Andy Sullivan, “an outspoken critic of the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.” However, as the New York Times’ Nate Silver notes, the Republicans would be well advised to “keep expectations modest” for winning the seat: In the constituency, 57 percent of registered voters are registered as Democrats, and 18 percent as Republicans.
The Democrats: in terms of likely nominations on the Democratic side, the WSJ pointed to Assemblyman Rory Lancman, council member Mark Weprin and former council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia.
More broadly, the party will be looking to move past the saga and focus discourse back on Medicare. The party can now be grateful for the vagaries of the 24-hour news cycle, which haunted them with this scandal, but which will also mean, in a matter of hours, people will likely not care about Weiner anymore.
“It’s not going to take that long for Democrats to right the ship,” Dante Scala of the University of New Hampshire told the Huffington Post. “Especially since the leadership has driven him out, now they can get back to what they were doing.”
What did we learn? Not much, beyond what we probably already knew about how not to conduct oneself online and a series of jokes playing on the congressman’s name (which will get old soon, so you’ve got a couple of days to get those out your system). As the Los Angeles Times notes: “This Weiner story, bottom line at the end of the day, was really about a pedestrian flasher who talked good and took advantage of his powerful position to attract female attention.”
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email email@example.com. More Natasha Lennard.
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