Thies: How Weiner and Liu will affect the mayoral primary
And another one bites the dust.
Just a few weeks after Sydney Leathers sank Anthony Weiner's mayoral hopes, the Campaign Finance Board left Comptroller John Liu treading water on Monday when they found "serious and pervasive" fundraising violations and denied him $3.5 million. That leaves Liu critically underfunded for the homestretch of a very competitive race.
The blow to Liu is a one-two knockout. First, on the heels of his former campaign manager's conviction for lying to federal investigators, the City of New York essentially just called him a cheater. More important, though, he will no longer have the money he needs to change that perception.
So now we have two major candidates for the Democratic nomination hopelessly hobbled by scandal, each with about as much chance of being the next mayor as the Mets have of winning the World Series.
But they're also two of the most tenacious people you'll ever meet, even by New York standards. And they're already on the ballot. In fact, it is likely that -- through pure name recognition (Weiner) and tireless campaigning with fiery rhetoric (Weiner and Liu) -- together the pair will net at least 20 percent of the final vote on Sept. 10.
So the real question isn't if Weiner and Liu can win. It's, who else will these zombie campaigns infect?
At first, the three serious candidates each seem to benefit from these flameouts: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio shot up in the polls last week as outerborough white voters swam to his ship from Weiner's; Council Speaker Christine Quinn saw a bump among women overall; and Liu's problems should send the minority voters he's courting from his camp to the only black candidate in the race, former Comptroller Bill Thompson.
But Liu and Weiner will still get significant chunks of each of those populations. And it's very possible that the groups they siphon the most from will determine the odd (wo)man out in this round of musical chairs, which will send two candidates to an Oct. 1 runoff and the other sourly bellying up to the bar.
With just over a month left to the primary, it's truly anyone's guess which two Democrats will duke it out in the runoff. But one thing's for sure: Even though Liu and Weiner won't make it in to that final showdown themselves, they can still decide who does.
Evan Thies, a Democratic political consultant, is the president of Brooklyn Strategies. You can follow him on Twitter at @EvanRThies.