Among Blacks, Spitzer and Weiner Find a More Forgiving Crowd

As Eliot Spitzer, a candidate for comptroller, and Anthony D. Weiner, a candidate for mayor, crisscross the city asking residents to look beyond sexual scandal and choose them for high office, they are finding unexpectedly strong support in black communities.
August 9, 2013

As Eliot Spitzer, a candidate for comptroller, and Anthony D. Weiner, a candidate for mayor, crisscross the city asking residents to look beyond sexual scandal and choose them for high office, they are finding unexpectedly strong support in black communities.

 
Repeated polling has found a racial gap in the races for mayor and comptroller: black voters are far more likely than white voters to view Mr. Spitzer and Mr. Weiner favorably, and more likely to say they deserve a second chance. And the statistical evidence is reinforced on the campaign trail: last week, for example, the predominantly black audience at a mayoral forum in Laurelton, Queens, cheered Mr. Weiner and jeered at another candidate, George T. McDonald, a Republican, who called Mr. Weiner a “freak.”
 
Interviews with black ministers, political leaders, scholars and voters suggest two major factors at work: an emphasis in black congregations on forgiveness and redemption, and an experience, particularly among older black voters, of having seen their revered leaders embroiled in scandal.
 
“You can’t think of any major black leader that did not have some kind of legal or other kind of media attack, so we are not as prone to believe the attacks as other communities,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said in an interview.
 
Mr. Youngblood agreed, saying, “When we as African Americans look at our history, our own Dr. Martin Luther King, or own Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, there has always been something in a person’s life that others sought to use against their greater good.”

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