The New York City mayoral race got much more interesting Wednesday with Anthony Weiner’s entry, asking New Yorkers in a video to give him a second chance and saying that he’s “learned some tough lessons.” His wife, Huma Abedin, is standing next to him with her own pitch: “We love this city. And no one would work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
The video makes it clear that the famously press-shy Abedin–a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and friend to the Clinton clan– is on board despite her husband’s fall from grace in 2011 when he resigned from Congress after he was caught tweeting lewd photographs of himself to other women.
But her longtime boss and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who officiated at Weiner and Abedin’s wedding, are staying out of the race. Both of the Clinton camps told Politico that because of connections to many of the candidates, they won’t be endorsing anyone.
“Secretary Clinton knows all of the candidates, she has worked with many of them, and is close with many of them, so won’t be weighing in one way or the other,” Hillary Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement to Politico. Bill Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna told Politico, “President Clinton has too many friends in this race who have been good to him and his family. He wishes them all well, but won’t be getting involved.”
New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is running and was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager for her 2000 Senate campaign, and whether Clinton is eyeing another run for the White House or not, it would make little sense picking a candidate running against Christine Quinn, who could be the first woman and openly gay mayor of New York, or the man vying to be the city’s second black mayor, Bill Thompson.
Evan Stavisky, a Democratic consultant and a partner at the Parkside Group consulting firm, said their presence could continue to hang over the race because of their connections and stature, but will have little effect if they stay on the sidelines.
“Obviously, when you have two political stars as bright as Hillary and Bill Clinton, and when those two stars are married to each other and living and working in the New York City metropolitan area, their stars shine even brighter and their shadows have an even wider impact,” Stavisky said. “However, the candidates running for New York City mayor are all well known and well defined in their own right.”
Stavisky noted that the Clintons have long held ties in New York all the way back to Clinton’s first run for president in 1992 when he won New York City helping to win the state, aiding him in his Democratic primary fight against Jerry Brown.
“Anyone running for office with ties to the Clinton family will be defined by those relationships, but the reality is many New York Democrats have ties to the Clinton family…. It’s not going to be a determinative factor in the race.”
A former Hillary Clinton aide from her 2008 presidential run agreed, saying, “I don’t think it will play much of a role at all.”
“I don’t think they are incentivized to play a role and instead I think they are inclined to stay away as far as [possible],” the former aide said. When it comes to supporting Weiner, Hillary Clinton is “damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.”
The aide is referring to the fact if Clinton is weighing a 2016 run, she won’t want to align herself with someone as scandal-scarred as Weiner, but not backing him she “risks upsetting one of her closest and longest serving confidantes.”
“It’s a sticky situation when you look at Weiner alone,” the former aide said. “The Clintons are as a big of a deal in New York as anywhere else, perhaps a bigger deal, but they haven’t really weighed in to contentious or contested races like these.”
There are some exceptions where Bill Clinton has endorsed in primaries, including campaigning last month for Wendy Gruel in the Los Angeles mayor’s race. Gruel conceded to Eric Garcetti in that race Wednesday.