In an effort to discredit his billionaire opponent in the 2009 mayoral campaign, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) railed against Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a Citizens Union breakfast Monday.
“More so than any time in recent memory, New York seems to have lost touch with its citizens,” Weiner said at the event. “It seems controlled by the elite and powerful.”
Weiner went on to blast Bloomberg on everything from the budget — saying the mayor has saddled the city with debt — to his support for the term limits extension. The City Council voted in October to approve a bill that allows elected officials to run for a third ter. Previously, politicians were limited to remaining in the same position for no more than two terms. Representatives from the mayor’s office did not return phone calls for comment.
Weiner, sworn in last week after winning 92 percent of the 9th Congressional District, downplayed his run for mayor, saying he wanted to focus on his job as a congressman before kick−starting his campaign into full gear.
“Now, a lot of people have asked, particularly those in the media, when does the campaign for mayor start?” Weiner said in an e−mail statement. “Well, Mayor Bloomberg is correct on this, that the time to campaign is not now, but the truth is that it is past time that City Hall started listening to New York. Right now, I think the middle class and those struggling to make it feel overlooked, and that will be an issue in November, but in January they don’t want us arguing about it. They want us working to solve it.”
The 9th Council District includes Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Rockaway Beach, and Woodhaven.
Still some have speculated Weiner could drop out of the mayoral campaign because the term limits vote pits him against the billionaire Bloomberg, an independent who can easily outspend Weiner and city Comptroller Bill Thompson, a Democrat in the mayoral race.
Political activist and Woodside resident Dan Jacoby, who listened to Weiner’s speech at the Citizens Union breakfast, said it seemed to him that Weiner was campaigning.
“He said he agreed with Mayor Bloomberg that now is not a time to campaign but to a time to get problems solved, but his speech was clearly a campaign speech,” said Jacoby, a member of Democracy NYC, the West Queens Independent Democratic Club and the Sunnyside United Neighborhood Network.
The congressman crisscrossed the city Sunday, holding fund−raising events all closed to the press, in each of the five boroughs. Weiner said he has so far raised $6.6 million for his campaign.
Jacoby said it might be best if Weiner left the race and ran once Bloomberg departs City Hall for good.
Bellerose resident Ian Steinberg, co−president of the New Queens Democrats, said he expects Weiner will drop out.
“He’s probably not going to run,” Steinberg said. “It would be hard for him to run against Bill Thompson, and an even harder time running against Bloomberg.”
Queens College political science professor Michael Krasner, however, said he expects Weiner to remain in the race.
“He’s an ornery character, and he’s not going to drop out,” Krasner said. “He’ll use the term limits vote as the chief issue against Bloomberg.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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