Against reams of advice from appalled voters and columnists, Anthony Weiner never dropped out of the New York mayoral race, instead sinking to new lows each week, and after getting less than 5 percent of the vote, ultimately exiting the race on Tuesday night like a drunk starlet, flipping off cameras from the backeseat of a car. This was the best possible outcome for America.
The Atlantic Wire, unlike so many others, insisted that Anthony Weiner should stay in the race, even as a new sexter revealed the Democrat had been sexting strangers a year after he quit Congress. Sure, it was embarrassing to have Weiner around as a symbol of New York and American democracy. But if Weiner had quit the race early, before voters had the chance to offer total rejection, he would have been able to tell himself that he still had a future in elected office. Which is exactly what happened this time — Weiner quit Congress amid his sexting scandal in 2011, instead of being voted out, giving him space to imagine the voters wouldn't be nearly as punitive as Nancy Pelosi.
All sorts of political careers and plots are fueled by imagination. Reality is much harder, and once it got underway, Weiner's mayoral campaign devolved from a curiosity to a horror show. His wife, Huma Abedin, stood by his side in late July when new sexts came to light. But she disappeared from the campaign trail when the timing of Weiner's sexts with Sydney Leathers showed he was sexting even while posing for People photos with his baby to setup his comeback. Leathers used her fame to get into the porn industry. Weiner's intern revealed that he called female interns "Monica" (like Lewinsky. Ha.), his press secretary retaliated by calling her a "slutbag."
Did these things make people feel sorry for Weiner? No. Last week, he got into a screaming match with a voter who called him a "scumbag," said he was appalled that Weiner would dare run for office, and muttered that Weiner was "married to an Arab." Weiner yelled "What rabbi taught you that you're my judge?!" and "You know nothing! You know nothing! Your ignorance is being shown to the entire world!" In his last interview before the primary, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell opened with the question, "What's wrong with you?" Weiner unhappily said he needed to "Chillax, buddy." After his campaign party, he was chased by Leathers through a McDonalds.
Weiner never bottomed out. He kept sinking lower, to the bitter end. On election night, Weiner ended up in fifth place, behind Bill de Blasio, Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn, and John Liu. He won zero precincts. He got less than 5 percent of the vote, with just over 31,000 votes counted so far. For comparison, the candidate with the next highest vote total is Erick Salgado. No one has heard of him either.
It's been our suspicion for a while now that Weiner's campaign is more about clearing the air for Abedin to take a job on a Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign or even run for office herself. Still, it's not impossible that Weiner might one day try to mount another comeback. Last week, Weiner's friend suggested the former congressman had future campaigns in mind even as he was losing this one. Referring to the sexting habit, his friend said, "When he does something for the future, it will be fair of him to say 'asked and answered.'" But the public can say the same if Weiner ever asks again for their vote.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.