Ex-congressman Anthony Weiner hits campaign trail in bid to be New York mayor

NEW YORK (AFP) - Former US congressman Anthony Weiner, who gained notoriety after tweeting sexual shots of himself, hit the campaign trail on Thursday, one day after announcing his bid to run for New York mayor.

The Democrat went to Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood to meet voters at a subway stop following the release on Wednesday of a two-minute video in which he asked voters for a second chance.

"I am a problem solver for people," Mr Weiner, who was forced to resign in 2011 due to the scandal, said at his first news conference.

New Yorkers appear cool towards Mr Weiner's bid, with 49 per cent saying he should not run, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday and conducted before he went public.

Mr Weiner's candidacy has shaken up the race among Democrats seeking to secure the Big Apple's mayoral seat.

Until now, Ms Christine Quinn, the speaker of the City Council, seemed best-placed to succeed Mr Michael Bloomberg, who has steered the city for eleven years.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, Ms Quinn - at 25 per cent - leads the pack for the Democratic nomination. Mr Weiner holds 15 per cent, ahead of former comptroller William Thompson and the city's public advocate Bill de Blasio, both of whom are at 10 per cent.

Whoever becomes the Democratic candidate is expected to easily prevail against the best-placed Republican, according to the survey conducted from May 14 to May 20 among 1,082 voters with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Primary elections are set for Sept 10 and the mayoral vote is slated for Nov 5.

Mr Weiner's candidacy almost ensures that no Democratic contender will clear the 40 per cent vote threshold needed to lock up the nomination, however. If that is the case, the top two finishers will face off in a Sept 24 run-off ahead of the November general vote.

Mr Weiner's hard-charging political career - he served 12 years in the United States House of Representatives - imploded in 2011 with the X-rated Twitter scandal.

The Democrat initially claimed his account had been hacked and that he had not sent the pictures, but later admitted to it.