Joe Lhota, the likely Republican nominee for mayor, voiced support this morning for Anthony Weiner’s potential mayoral bid. Not because it would help Lhota politically, of course, but out of respect for the Civic Good. “I’m looking forward to engaging him in a vibrant debate,” Lhota said at an unrelated press conference. “I think he raises the level of the debate all way round and I urge him to enter the race.”
The truth is that pretty much everyone speaking out for Weiner these days has their own self-serving ulterior motives. Lhota wants Weiner to run because he would throw the Democratic primary into disarray and weaken the eventual nominee. Eliot Spitzer wants Weiner to run because it would set a precedent that might benefit the scandal-tainted Spitzer someday. Hell, even Weiner himself might be motivated by something other than the desire to actually win the mayoralty, as two political operatives suggested to the New York Times Magazine recently:
[T]here may be reasons to run that have nothing to do with his chances. “Is this about winning?” asks the political adviser. “Or is this an attempt to get the scandal off the books? Then the next time he runs for something, he can say: ‘You know what? We talked about that last time. Aren’t we beyond that?’ If so, it’s not a crazy strategy. Because when you’re running in a race you know you’re going to lose, you get to say all the positive things you want about yourself and take the brunt of the jokes this round and then figure out your real move after that. But that takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to do.”
Another political operative echoes this way of thinking about the race: “I have no idea if he will run. But if he does, the reasoning might be: I don’t want that to be the last word of my public career; I don’t want that to be the thing that my son reads about me, as the end of my career. He’s looking for redemption.”
Huma, also, “is starting to think he should run,” according to the Times Magazine. She probably has her reasons, too. You know what they say about idle hands.