Leading Dem may opt out of mayor's race

March 11, 2009 7:25:50 PM PDT
The Democratic field in New York City mayoral races is typically crowded with wannabes, but this year it's looking lonely now that a leading contender says he may opt out. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a U.S. congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said in a letter to supporters on Wednesday that the nation's economic crisis "is a time for problem solving" in Washington, and that he will reevaluate his plans in a few months.

"At the beginning of the summer when Congress takes a break, I will look at the lay of the land again and try to determine the best political course," Weiner wrote.

Weiner and City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. have each raised more than $5 million already for the November race. They have been considered the strongest Democrats running for the chance to challenge incumbent billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, who spent $85 million on his re-election bid in 2005, beat both Thompson and Weiner in a Quinnipiac University poll released late last month. In a Democratic matchup, Weiner beat Thompson 32 percent to 22 percent, with 42 percent undecided.

Thompson campaign director Eduardo Castell said Wednesday: "We don't have to look at the lay of the land in the summer to know that during these tough times New Yorkers need someone like Bill Thompson as Mayor to fight for working families, create jobs and bring change to City Hall."

The Bloomberg campaign had no immediate comment.

After the popular, self-financed mayor changed the city's term limits law last fall so that he could run for a third consecutive four-year term, the candidates with their eye on his seat have been disappearing.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was widely believed to be considering a mayoral run, said she would run for her council seat again instead.

Both Weiner and Thompson have been plagued by rumors that they would eventually drop out, and now Weiner has sent a strong signal in that direction.

"There is a time for politics, but this is a time for problem solving," Weiner wrote in the letter. "And boy do we have a lot of problems to solve in Washington today."

With Weiner out of the Democratic race, Thompson's biggest foe in terms of fundraising would be Councilman Tony Avella, who has raised more than $230,000.