NEW YORK - Anthony Weiner knows there may be a lot of New Yorkers who would never consider voting for him again, but he says he is 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.
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 resumé 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. Average New Yorkers were at no loss for opinions, either.
"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.
Elizabeth Fasolino was ready to give Weiner a chance to win her vote. "He's made atonement," the Manhattanite said. "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 run.
His career cratered after a photo of a man's bulging, underwear-clad groin appeared on Weiner's Twitter account in 2011. He initially said his account had been hacked. But after more photos emerged, the married congressman eventually owned up to exchanging racy messages with several women, but said he had never met any of them. He soon resigned.
He has said he should not have lied but wanted to keep the truth from his then-pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has said she forgives him.
Some rivals said they welcomed him to the race, including Democratic former City Comptroller William Thompson, whose campaign then sent out a fund-raising e-mail. Quinn said Weiner's run "doesn't change my perspective or plan in this race at all."
Republican George McDonald complained that by seeking matching funds, Weiner "wants to rehab his tarnished reputation at the expense of taxpayers."