With pressure from Democratic leaders becoming too great, Anthony Weiner (D-NY) told friends and colleagues he would resign from Congress today in the wake of a sexting scandal that has consumed a great deal of cable news time over the past few weeks.
The top Democratic official said Mr. Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Steve Israel of New York last night while they were at the White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign on Thursday.
Mr. Weiner plans to resign in Brooklyn at 2 p.m., according to two people told of his plans.
The news comes as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness.
That should read committee assignment; Weiner only served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He was not the kind of member of Congress who worked the issues deeply or got legislation passed. He was a backbencher biding his time before running for Mayor of New York City, and then, a bomb-thrower who used cable news to gain the admiration of liberals. What damaged his effectiveness was a scandal that would not allow him to go on TV anymore and yell about Republicans. Because that was really his designated role.
Weiner wasn’t going to have a district anymore. New York loses two seats in redistricting, and the common wisdom on this is that an upstate Republican and a downstate Democrat would be sacrificed. In a way, the Weiner scandal made this easier; now the downstate Dem was obvious. A special election, with a new incumbent, may complicate that.
As for the mechanics of a special election: in other New York races, the parties choose their own nominees in a caucus, and then they run in a special. I’d expect that to happen within 3-4 months. It’s not as Democratic a district as you may think; it’s only D+5. So there’s a possibility, though remote, of an upset here, depending on the candidates.
I’m sure Pelosi and the Democratic leadership believe they will “put this issue behind them” now, and pivot back to talking about Republican plans to end Medicare. Of course, they kept the issue going for a week with the call for resignation. And for my money, the greatest threat to the Democratic plan to make Medicare a foundational issue in the 2012 elections would be… you know, cuts to Medicare as part of a debt limit or deficit deal. So Weiner is less the problem than, say, Tim Geithner.