NEW YORK (AP) — Anthony Weiner knows there may be a lot of New Yorkers who would never consider voting for him again, but he says he's running for mayor because he wants to bring his ideas to the fore — and win.
"I don't kid myself. I know that this is going to be a difficult slog, and I'm going to have to have a lot of difficult conversations with people along the way," the former congressman, whose career imploded in a rash of raunchy tweets two years ago, said by phone Wednesday after officially launching his mayoral bid.
"I think I have something to contribute. And I think that it's up to New Yorkers to decide whether I get a second chance or not, and I hope the answer's yes," the Democrat added.
With a YouTube video posted late Tuesday, Weiner embarked on an audacious comeback quest, hoping to go from politician whose tweeted crotch shot was emblazoned on the nation's consciousness to leader of America's biggest city.
With a $4.8 million campaign war chest and possibly $1 million more in public matching money, a resume that includes seven terms in Congress, polls showing him ahead of all but one other Democrat, and certainly no end of name recognition, Weiner is certain to add drama to the most competitive mayoral race in more than a decade. His participation makes a Democratic primary runoff more likely, and many political observers feel he could at least get to the second round.
His announcement was met with a mix of polite greetings and pushback from his now-rivals, at least one of whom used it as a jumping-off point for a fundraising appeal. Average New Yorkers were at no loss for opinions, either.
Weiner, who is styling his campaign as a bid to help the city's middle class thrive, ran for mayor in 2005 and nearly did in 2009. He said last month he was considering running, and he said Wednesday he'd been encouraged since by hearing from New Yorkers "who weren't completely forgetting the things I had done and the regrettable mistakes that I had made but wanted to hear more about my ideas."
Still, it's clear that he also will need to win over many.
"If you're so indiscreet in your personal life, what are you going to be in your political life?" city resident Gale Sorel said Wednesday.
But Elizabeth Fasolino, for one, is ready to give Weiner a chance to win her vote.
"He's made atonement," the Manhattanite said Wednesday. "I think he has the best interest of New York City voters in mind, the middle class especially."
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Weiner getting 15 percent of the Democratic primary vote, behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at 25 percent. But 49 percent of city voters said Weiner shouldn't even run.
He said he's eager to talk to them, nonetheless.
"I hope at least some of the ideas penetrate, and it changes some of the conversations," said Weiner, who planned to greet commuters at a subway station and participate in a candidate forum Thursday.
His career cratered after a photo of a man's bulging, underwear-clad groin appeared on Weiner's Twitter account in 2011. He initially claimed his account had been hacked. But after more photos emerged, including one of him bare-chested in his congressional office, the married congressman eventually owned up to exchanging racy messages with several women, saying he'd never met any of them. He soon resigned.