The publication of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sexually explicit online exchanges with several women has led senior commentators to suggest his anticipated campaign for mayor of New York City in 2013 has imploded -- leaving New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a long-time supporter of Irish causes, as the clear front runner for the Democratic mayoral nomination.
Although Weiner told a hastily arranged press conference on Monday that he would not resign his House seat, he is expected to spend the rest of this week encamped in his Brooklyn-Queens district weighing whether or not to run for an eighth term in 2012.
Weiner, who was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) memorably attended an ILIR rally in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx in December of 2006 where he had been a big hit with the hundreds of attendees. At the time Irish Voice reporter April Drew wrote:
“Accompanying Charles Schumer was Congressman Anthony Weiner. Living up to his reputation, Weiner added some drama and charisma to wow the crowd, by standing up steadfastly, removing his expensive suit jacket and swiftly and proudly putting on a Legalize the Irish.org t-shirt, the same garment worn by three quarters of the audience present.”
Weiner also attended an ILIR rally in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2006 where he gave his steadfast support to the campaign to legalize the undocumented Irish.
Commenting on the recent Weiner developments on Tuesday, ILIR Chairman Bart Murphy told the Irish Voice, “He said he isn’t going to resign, so if he stays I believe we will still have his support. He’s been consistent on that going back to our rallies for comprehensive reform in 2006.
“If he goes we will just have to see what happens. I am sorry for him and for his family. He’s proving he’s just another man with feet of clay.”
Reflecting on the obvious shift in dynamic in the race for mayor, Murphy said that both Quinn and Weiner candidates were committed to immigration reform.
“Both are strong supporters and we are glad to have them. I am sorry to see the fall of Congressman Weiner and I hope he sees his way through it,” Murphy said.
Weiner also won plaudits from the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, which awarded him with it's Robert Briscoe Award, named after the first Jewish mayor of Dublin.
The award honors Jewish New Yorkers who have helped support Irish American interests and immigration to the U.S., celebrating the close relationship between Jewish and Irish communities in New York.
“Immigrants built our great city and will build an even greater future,” Weiner told the audience on the night of the award in 2006.
“Irish Americans and Jewish Americans have a long and proud history of living and working together in this City. Today, we are joining together to overcome new challenges that affect Irish immigrants.”
Past Briscoe award recipients include Schumer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Governor General Eliot Spitzer, himself no stranger to public sex humiliation after being embroiled in a prostitution scandal that led him to resign as governor in 2007.
Weiner was also an early supporter of the Irish LGBT inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade in Queens and scored a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, based on his votes in Congress and his office’s commitment to a sexual orientation non-discrimination employment policy.
Questioned about Weiner’s troubles at a press conference on building inspections on Tuesday, Quinn said, “I feel badly for him and his family. They’re in my thoughts, and I hope that he and his family are able to resolve all of these matters as quickly as possible in a way that works for him and his family. That’s the most important thing.”