Democrats Notch a Win

Who's mad at Weiner's decision to drop out? Not his supporters

But he is comfortable with Weiner's decision. "It is a very personal call, and Anthony made it. He had to reach into his heart and soul to decide what was best for him and his party." Were supporters shortchanged? "Yes, that's an argument," said Engel. "I could've written you the Post's headline ("Kick in the Ballots"). It was discussed that night. But Anthony felt that 39.945 [percent] was so close. Had it been 38 it might've been a different decision. That heavily influenced him. He believed he could win, as do I. But even if he won, the party could be so badly divided that it could be a Pyrrhic victory."

Like Engel, state assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz from Riverdale also backed Weiner from the start. "Sure, I wished he'd stayed in. I thought he had a reasonable chance to win," said Dinowitz. "But I didn't argue with him. His decision was his decision. He felt a runoff could be divisive. I don't feel disenfranchised." There was also an issue of practicality. With Ferrer just 250 votes away from the required 40 percent, the likelihood was that most of the affidavit ballots would be filed in areas where Ferrer is strongest, thus making the entire debate moot. "I assume Ferrer will be reaching out to us," said the assemblyman. "No one wants to see a Republican elected for the fourth time in a row."

Scott Klein, a former president of the gay Democratic club Lambda, in Brooklyn, is another Weiner supporter with reason to gripe. Klein went to hear the mayoral candidates at an NYU forum last March. Weiner was late, running behind as usual from Washington. Klein was about to leave but decided to wait to hear the little-known congressman. "I thought he was amazing," Klein recalled last week. "I called his staff—it was just bare bones then—and said I wanted to help."

Klein stayed through the campaign. Just standing on a street corner Weiner "created a certain excitement. He engaged people," said Klein. "Was I happy he dropped out? No, I was very disappointed. But it's not like Ferrer got 38 percent. He got 39.95. He basically got 40 percent. [Weiner] could have put in a lot of effort and then there would be no runoff. What would the point be? It would've been divisive. Now the focus is on one candidate. What Anthony says about Bloomberg having unlimited resources, that's true. The runoff could've been good for the party, or it could've been very bad." Last week, Klein wrote a letter to the Post, complaining about its coverage. "It was ridiculous. They have their own agenda."

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