Rep. Anthony Weiner is often compared to his
predecessor and mentor Chuck Schumer.
It was a display of energy, determination and self-confidence worthy of his
mentor and predecessor, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). "He is a young man with
contagious energy, always in a hurry," political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said.
"He is sure of himself, and he gets things done. I would say though, that he is sure
of himself to a fault." Elected to Congress in 1998 as a liberal Democrat to
represent the New Yorks 9th District, with widely separated parts of Queens and
Brooklyn, Weiner quickly distinguished himself. In his first months in Congress he
introduced and helped pass a measure that will provide $30 million over three years to
reduce airport noise by encouraging aircraft manufacturers to make quieter engines.
Weiners district borders JFK and LaGuardia airports.
Weiner feels the most important issues in his district are Medicare, Social Security
and education. He supports President Clintons proposal for prescription drugs for
all seniors, but believes that Clintons proposed funding for hospitals is woefully
inadequate. "I am concerned that he [Clinton] does not see the way his plan will hurt
New York hospitals. The president is giving with one hand and taking with the other."
David Rich, the Greater New York Hospital Associations vice president for
government affairs, is working with the lawmaker to pry more funds out of the
"What we are hoping from Weiner and the rest of the New York delegation is that
they will get the president to give hospitals, and specifically teaching hospitals, more
money," Rich said.
Rich called Weiner: "Extremely articulate, committed and energetic. He has a
bright future because he is very focused on the needs of his constituents, and that
Weiner also is working for increased federal funding for schools. The 9th District has
seen an enormous rise in the number of young children, he said, and has become one of the
most overcrowded areas in the New York school system.
"We should set up a school construction program; the state and the locality will
each put up 25 percent, and the federal government will chip in some money," he said.
Weiners district has one of the oldest populations in the state, according to
Almanac America, and one of the oldest in the country, making Social Security an enormous
concern. He disagrees with those who think the system is in imminent danger.
"As a party and a country we have exaggerated the dangers to Social
Security," Weiner said. "We shouldnt do concrete things that harm seniors
today on the abstract idea that people of my generation are going to have problems later.
My strategy on Social Security is to play defense."
Weiner has also introduced legislation this spring to create a "regional"
Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA). The legislation takes into account the
rises in cost of living in different regions of the country, instead of relying on
national numbers for every district. Because the consumer price index rises faster in New
York City than most other places, seniors in the 9th District would receive higher Social
Security payments if this legislation were passed.
"It is more expensive to live in New York City than in Butte, Montana," said
Weiner. Yet, each year, New Yorks seniors see the increases that better reflect the
costs of housing, health care and food in Butte than in Brooklyn and Queens."
But Weiner is not just known in his district as just a younger Schumer. "Its
not a name people forget," Weiner said. "It served me well during the campaign,
because people talked about it. Who is this guy Weiner? What kind of a name is
Anthony Weiner? That kind of thing."
Born and raised in Brooklyn, the son of a lawyer and a high school teacher, Weiner was
the middle of three sons. After receiving his B.A. at the State University of New York,
Plattsburgh, he began his political career as an intern in Schumers office. He
quickly moved up to press secretary and then legislative assistant.
Rep. Weiner safely slides into home despite the
best efforts of catcher/Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois).
"Anthony was bright and energetic and we could tell that right away,"
At 27, Weiner became the youngest person ever elected to the New York City Council.
Seven years later, he ran for the House, winning the Democratic nomination by less than
400 votes. He is one of the poorest members of the freshman class, listing no assets in
his financial disclosure statement.
Nevertheless, at 34, Weiner is one of the Hills most eligible, Jewish bachelors.
Despite the fact that he has a girlfriend who lives in Miami, the Jewish mothers of Queens
and Brooklyn have not given up. "There isnt a grandmother in the 9th District
who hasnt tried to set Weiner up with her granddaughter," said Lew Fiddler,
Democratic state committeeman in New Yorks 41st Assembly District, explaining that
many grandmothers in the district act as his own. "He is from an old district and
that is one of his charms."
As Schumers protégé, Weiner was often teased during the campaign with the
nickname "Chuck Lite." Weiner said, "I dont know if its a
reference to my weight or my intellectual capacities," or, he added with a
characteristic smile, "my touch."
As Weiner begins to make his own name, the nickname is now used fondly. And his daily
existence often revolves around a frenetic pace. On a particularly muggy Thursday in June,
the highly driven Weiner begins his day at 7 a.m. with congressional baseball practice in
Bowie, MD. By 9 a.m., he has rushed back to the Cannon House Office Building for a meeting
of the congressional Whips, of which he is one.
At 10 a.m. hes now at the Judiciary Committee meeting, where he sits until his
brief meeting with New York lobbyists at noon. He rushes into the small conference room,
sits down at the head of the long table and smiles. "Gentlemen, I dont have the
money for you yet," he said.
Ten minutes later he is back in Judiciary to introduce his mentor, Schumer, to the
committee. After a quick description of what Schumer has done for New York since his
recent election, he added, "And, both the New York Knicks and the Albany Sabers are
in the play-offs." He delivers the line well, and when he sits down the room is
In the afternoon he has a meeting on gun safety and then a Technology Subcommittee
hearing. At 7 p.m. he will leave the office to fly back to his district.
During another frantically paced afternoon, he finds time to speak, briefly, with a
reporter who phones in about a softball game his office team, Weiners Beaners,
"I had an in-the-park home run, but not much else. For the record," Weiner
said to the reporter, "you can write that this congressman stunk up the field."
His press secretary looks embarrassed, but amused. When asked about his Judiciary
Committee appointment, he commented: "Its a great responsibility, but its
fun and interesting too. Its not like Im Solomon splitting the baby."
When asked about his future, Weiner was momentarily annoyed. He rallied though, as he
so often does, with humor:
"I got elected to Congress on a landslide of one percent," he said.
"There is not exactly a national mandate for my service. My aspirations are to get
reelected. I have peaked. Dont think of me as Chuck Schumer; think of me as Manny
Seller: They are taking me out of here stiff as a board."
Dana Bazelon writes for our sister paper, The Hill.