Ex-congressman Weiner mulling N.Y. mayoral campaign


Former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner reportedly is “seriously considering” running for mayor of New York.

Sources told the New York Post that Weiner is “desperate” to get back into politics and also would consider a lesser statewide office, such as public advocate.

He reportedly has $4.5 million in a campaign fund from previous mayoral runs and would qualify for matching funds on the money only through the 2013 election.

Weiner reportedly has spoken to former staff members about working for him again, according to the Post, and continues to pay rent on a campaign office in Manhattan.

The veteran Democratic lawmaker resigned from Congress in June 2011 after lying about tweeting an illicit photo of himself to a 21-year-old supporter. Since then he has been a stay-at-home father.

His return to politics reportedly has the backing of his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to the Post.

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart dies unexpectedly at 43 of natural causes


Conservative blogger ” title=”BigJournalism.com” target=”_blank”>BigJournalism.com and ” title=”here” target=”_blank”>here.

 

Ex-congressman Anthony Weiner becomes a dad


Anthony Weiner, who resigned his Congress seat after lying about tweeting an illicit photo of himself to a 21-year-old supporter, has become a father.

The ex-New York lawmaker’s wife, Huma Abedin, gave birth to Jordan Zane Weiner on Wednesday, the New York Post reported.

Weiner, who is Jewish, in June acknowledged inappropriate Internet relationships with at least six women. The pregnancy of Abedin, a Saudi-born Muslim, became public during the scandal.

Republican Bob Turner wins Weiner’s former seat


In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner.

The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, beat his Democratic opponent, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, in Tuesday’s special election. The Associated Press called the race for Turner shortly after midnight, with the Republican leading Weprin by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent and more than three-fifths of precincts reporting.

The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support Turner in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel.

Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, initially led in pre-election polls. But Turner, a retired television executive who was a creator of “The Jerry Springer Show,” pulled ahead during the past month.

Turner’s victory came despite the Democrats’ strong advantage in voter registration in the middle-class Brooklyn and Queens district, which is 57 percent Democratic and only 19 percent Republican. Observers, however, have noted that the district votes more conservative than the registration numbers seem to suggest.

The Republican’s tenure in Congress, however, could be short-lived. New York state is losing two congressional seats due to decennial reapportionment, and many expect that the seat, which has been vacant since Weiner’s scandal-induced resignation, will be eliminated.

New York’s 9th Congressional District has the fourth-largest Jewish population of any congressional district, with some 173,000 Jews, according to a 2009 report from the Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American Jewish Data Bank. Jerry Skurnik, a partner at the political consulting firm Prime New York, told The New York Times that about a third of the district’s active voters are Jewish.

However, the district’s Jewish demographics are somewhat atypical, with sizable concentrations of Orthodox Jews and Russian Jews, who tend to lean more conservative in their voting behavior than Jews in general.

During the race Weprin tried to distance himself from the president, highlighting his criticisms of the president’s policies toward Israel.

According to a September poll from the Siena Research Institute, 54 percent of the district’s likely Jewish voters said they had an unfavorable view of the president, with only 42 percent viewing him favorably—figures that almost exactly matched the views of the district’s likely voters overall.

The Siena poll, conducted Sept. 6-8, showed Weprin trailing Turner by six percentage points but leading among Jews by an equal margin.

While the Israel issue has garnered much of the media attention, in the Siena poll only 16 percent of the district’s Jewish voters said that a candidate’s Israel stance would be the most important factor in determining their vote. That is roughly half the proportion (30 percent) who identified the candidate’s position on the economic recovery as their key issue and slightly fewer than the proportion (20 percent) who chose Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs as the top issue.

Did Israel, gay marriage or the economy make the difference in GOP’s win in N.Y.?


Was it Israel, same-sex marriage or the Obama administration’s handling of the economy?

That’s the question political partisans and observers are debating after Republican Bob Turner won an upset victory in the heavily Democratic and Jewish New York congressional district represented by Anthony Weiner until his scandal-induced resignation in mid-June.

Turner beat his Democratic opponent, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, in Tuesday’s special election by a margin of 54 to 46 percent, with more than four-fifths of precincts reporting.

The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, and the Jewish vote was a particular focus of attention. In the lead-up to the election, former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support Turner in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to Obama over his policies toward Israel.

“This Republican win in an overwhelmingly Democrat district is a significant indicator of the problem that President Obama has in the Jewish community,” Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said in a statement. “While party leaders scramble to deny and try to stem the erosion of Jewish support for Democrats, the real issue is this president’s policies on Israel, on jobs, and on the economy.”

But the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, David A. Harris, said that negative views of Weiner meant “keeping this seat in Democratic hands has been an uphill battle.” He also noted the “difficult economy,” saying that “In this atypical district, they’ve reacted atypically.”

In his statement, Harris said, “One thing we know beyond the shadow of a doubt is that this election was about many things—but not Israel.”

Harris cited a Siena Research Institute poll, conducted Sept. 6-8, showing that only 7 percent of the district’s voters had identified Israel as the main factor in determining their votes. The poll also found that 16 percent of the district’s Jewish voters said a candidate’s Israel stance would be the most important factor in determining their vote.

By contrast, 30 percent of those polled said a candidate’s position on the economy was the most important factor, and 20 percent cited Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs as the top issue.

Some Republicans, however, pointed to a pre-election survey from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-aligned firm. That poll, conducted Sept. 8-11, showed that 54 percent of district voters disapproved of Obama’s policy toward Israel. It also found that among the 37 percent of voters who identified Israel as very important, Turner was leading by a 71-22 margin.

The election’s outcome, some suggested, sent a signal of the direction that the Jewish vote was headed for the 2012 presidential contest.

“It is a segment of the American electorate which is up for grabs which hasn’t been until now,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and Fox News commentator. He said that an erosion of the traditionally strong Jewish support for Democrats could be significant in swing states such as Florida, Nevada and Ohio.

“It’s not a pro-Republican vote, but it certainly is an anti-Democratic vote. And it’s an anti-Obama vote,” Luntz added, regarding the New York election.

Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, initially led in pre-election polls. But Turner, a retired television executive who was a creator of “The Jerry Springer Show,” pulled ahead during the past month. Turner had portrayed the race as a referendum on Obama’s policies.

“This message will resound for a full year,” Turner said at his victory party. “It will resound into 2012.”

Turner may not have the opportunity to run for re-election in 2012. With New York State slated to lose two congressional seats due to reapportionment, many expect that Turner’s seat will be eliminated.

His victory came despite the Democrats’ strong advantage in voter registration in the middle-class Brooklyn and Queens district, which is 57 percent Democratic and only 19 percent Republican. Observers, however, have noted that the district trends more conservative than the registration numbers might suggest.

Despite the Democrats’ 38-point edge in voter registration, New York Times election analyst Nate Silver noted that Obama only carried the district by 11 percentage points in 2008. U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)  took a similar proportion of the vote as the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004, though the Gore-Lieberman ticket did significantly better in 2000.

In any case, a Republican has not been elected to represent the district since 1920.

New York’s 9th Congressional District had the fourth-largest Jewish population of any congressional district, with some 173,000 Jews, according to a 2009 report from the Mandell L. Berman Institute-North American Jewish Data Bank. Jerry Skurnik, a partner at the political consulting firm Prime New York, told The New York Times that about a third of the district’s active voters are Jewish.

However, the district’s Jewish demographics are somewhat atypical, with sizable concentrations of Orthodox Jews and Russian Jews who tend to lean more conservative in their voting behavior.

For all the focus on the Jewish vote, it is not clear which candidate actually won it. Polls released in the days before the election offered conflicting findings. The Public Policy Polling survey had Turner leading by 17 percentage points among Jews, while the Siena poll had Weprin up by 6 points.

However, the Siena poll did find that 54 percent of the district’s likely Jewish voters said they had an unfavorable view of the president, with 42 percent viewing him favorably—figures that almost exactly matched the views of the district’s voters overall.

Turner worked aggressively to tie Weprin to Obama. A Turner ad blasted both Obama and Weprin for supporting the right to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. (Weprin has said that while he supports the right to build the center at the location, he would prefer that it be moved elsewhere.) Weprin, for his part, aired an ad accusing Turner of having “Tea Party budget ideas.”

Weprin tried to distance himself from the president, highlighting his criticisms of the president’s policies toward Israel. Indeed, the Emergency Committee for Israel, a conservative group critical of Obama, created an Internet video with footage of both Turner and Weprin blasting the president on Israel.

In August, when asked whether he would endorse Obama’s re-election, Weprin demurred, saying he was focused on his own race. Later, when pressed on the issue by the New York Jewish Week, Weprin responded, “I am a Democrat and I expect to probably support him as the Democratic candidate.”

Weprin also faced a challenge on the issue of same-sex marriage, with some in the Orthodox community criticizing him for his vote in the state Assembly to legalize it. Fellow New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Democrat who has been known to cross party lines, blasted Weprin’s stance on the issue and backed Turner.

However, The Jewish Press, a prominent Brooklyn-based Orthodox weekly, endorsed Weprin, citing his support for social welfare programs and his opponent’s calls for government spending cuts.

“While there have been several critical rabbinic pronouncements regarding Mr. Weprin’s support for New York’s same-sex marriage legislation, by no means has there been an emergent consensus that this should drive voter choice,” The Jewish Press wrote in an editorial.

Weiner reportedly set to quit Congress


Rep. Anthony Weiner reportedly is set to resign in the wake of a scandal in which he lied about sexually explicit exchanges on social media outlets.

Friends of Weiner (D-N.Y.) were quoted Thursday as saying that the embattled congressman will resign under pressure from top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who had urged him to end the distraction of the scandal by leaving office.

Weiner was in treatment at an undisclosed location this week after confessing that he had sent at least six women sexually charged messages and photos through social media. After his confessional news conference last week, revelations about his lewd exchanges, including photos, continued to surface.

The House Ethics Committee was set to launch an investigation into whether Weiner had misused House resources to send the messages and then cover up the scandal.

Weiner, who is married to a top State Department official, Huma Abdein, is one of Israel’s staunchest defenders in the House.

Pre-eminent among lawmakers calling for him to step down were fellow members of the unofficial Jewish Hill caucus, including Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democrats House re-election campaign; and Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Sender Levin (D-Mich.)

The rise and fall of Anthony Weiner


What happens when new media scandal meets ancient political calculus?

Anthony Weiner, the Democrat from New York, found out on Thursday, when he delivered his resignation following intense pressure from party leaders.

Top Democrats described for JTA the key factors that led to Weiner’s ouster: Their bafflement with the new media Weiner used and misused to send a lewd photo to a 21-year-old fan, his aloof nature and the need above all to introduce bread-and-butter issues like health care back into the news cycle.

“The Democrats need a debate on the issues, and this was a major distraction,” said Steve Rabinowitz, a public relations consultant who works with the Democratic National Committee. “Even if you’re a huge Weiner fan, he has to be sacrificed so we can get back to this agenda.”

The measure of Weiner’s loneliness in the Democratic caucus was evidenced not just by the party leaders who cut him off, but also by how many of them were his co-religionists.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) was the first Democrat to call for Weiner’s resignation. She was followed by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the DNC’s chairwoman, the party’s top position. Also weighing in against Weiner was Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the veteran Detroit-area pol and one of the most widely respected members of his caucus. All are Jewish.

Among the only Jewish members to come out defending Weiner was Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who also represents a New York City district.

“Congressman Weiner was extremely bright, extremely intelligent, he could articulate the issues very well and dramatize them,” Nadler told Talkingpointsmemo.com. “Anytime you lose that kind of talent it’s a loss.”

The 10 days that it took to persuade Weiner to step down, the venue he chose to make the announcement—the Sheepshead Bay home for the aged where he announced his intention to run 20 years ago—and his confident, self-affirming tone suggested that he believes his political career is not over.

“I have never forgotten my neighbors because they represent the same middle-class stories as mine,” he said. “The story of New York is my story.” He said he would look for “other ways to contribute my talents.”

Pundits said Weiner’s dream of becoming mayor of New York City was dead. Rep. Israel told CNN that talk of a political comeback was premature.

“The only kind of recovery that Anthony Weiner is concerned about based on the conversations I had with him is in his personal recovery,” he said.

The very qualities that made Weiner a media star served to alienate others, insiders said. His outspokenness helped guarantee him face time on the cable news networks. One insider said others in the caucus were jealous of the attention Weiner regularly garnered.

Weiner’s aloofness did not help. Weiner did not make appearances at the routine party get-togethers, including those that draw the unofficial Jewish caucus.

“He was happy with his own way,” is the way one top Democrat put it. “He did his own thing,” another said.

Officials did not want to be identified by name because of the party’s eagerness to put the Weiner scandal behind them, particularly in media coverage.

As much as he tacked to the left on economic issues, the congressman leaned to the right on Israel issues, reflecting the values of his heavily Jewish district, which included parts of Brooklyn and Queens. He directly criticized Obama for the tensions between his government and that of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Weiner is married to Huma Abedin, a Saudi-born Muslim who is a top adviser to Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state. Abedin is pregnant, and Weiner has said their marriage is intact.

Weiner’s defenders noted that other politicians have survived sexual transgressions. They called the pressures placed on him to resign—which came from Obama as well from as the Republican and Democratic leaderships—hypocritical. Many of the same Democrats calling on him to step down defended President Clinton when he had a real sexual affair—as opposed to the virtual one Weiner seems to have conducted via phone, text and Internet messages—and lied about it. Sen. David Vitter (R-Va.) remains in the U.S. Senate after he was revealed to have frequented prostitutes.

Weiner’s problem for the Democratic leadership was the novelty of his transgression, said a source close to the leadership. According to this account, straightforward adultery or an addiction problem would have been dealt with, but there was an “ick” factor to the photos of Weiner’s excited state circulating around the Internet. “We didn’t know what to do with this,” the source said.

More important than that, however, were Weiner’s initial—and indignant—lies about his conduct, such as blaming hackers for sending the picture that sparked the scandal. It was only the continued leak of additional pictures and exchanges, and the emergence of his interlocutors—who numbered at least six, he finally acknowledged—that led him to apologize and seek treatment.

“I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made,” he said Thursday, “and the embarrassment that I have caused.”

House approves Rep. Weiner leave of absence


The U.S. House of Representatives approved Rep. Anthony Weiner’s request for a leave of absence.

Weiner (D-N.Y.) requested a two-week leave of absence in order to enter a treatment center to deal with his addiction to having inappropriate online relationships with women.  He reportedly entered treatment over the weekend. House memebrs approved the leave request Monday with a unanimous voice vote.

Calls for Weiner to resign have mounted from his own political party, including from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.), chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) last week called on Weiner to resign, and on Monday he suggested that Weiner should be stripped by his party of his place on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, his only committee assignment.

President Obama addressed the controversy for the first time on Monday, saying during an interview on NBC’s “Today” that “if it was me, I would resign.’’

“When you get to the point where, because of various personal distractions, you can’t serve as effectively as you need to, at the time when people are worrying about jobs, and their mortgages, and paying the bills — then you should probably step back,’’ Obama said.

Leading Baptist defends call for Weiner to embrace Jesus


A Southern Baptist leader is defending his call for Rep. Anthony Weiner to turn to Jesus, answering criticism that he was targeting the embattled congressman because of his Jewishness.

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.—the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship school—had been criticized for urging Weiner to embrace Jesus following the scandal involving lewd photos of the congressman.

In response to news that Weiner intends to seek treatment for his problems, Mohler had tweeted, “Dear Congressman Weiner: There is no effective ‘treatment’ for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ.”

USA Today religion reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman blogged that this “reads as an evangelism tactic, riding in on the Weiner headlines but aimed at people like Jews such as Weiner, Buddhists like [Tiger] Woods, and many others, such as Weiner’s Muslim wife, who hold different ideas about salvation, different approaches to atonement.”

In response, Mohler wrote Tuesday that he had not mentioned Judaism. He said that he was simply stating the Christian doctrine that “every single human being is a sinner in need of the redemption that is found only in Christ.”

In 2003 Mohler caused a stir with his staunch advocacy of evangelizing Jews. He had explained that warning non-Christians of the “eternal danger” they face in not embracing Jesus “is the ultimate act of Christian love.”

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