New York rejects two sex scandal-marred candidates

Democratic mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner makes his concession speech at Connolly's Pub in midtown Tuesday, September 10, 2013 in New York. Democrat Anthony Weiner had positioned himself as the ultimate comeback kid, deciding to run for mayor of
Democratic mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner makes his concession speech at Connolly's Pub in midtown Tuesday, September 10, 2013 in New York. Democrat Anthony Weiner had positioned himself as the ultimate comeback kid, deciding to run for mayor of New York City after quitting Congress in 2011 over a steamy cyber-sex scandal. -- PHOTO: AP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Two disgraced politicians who had hoped to salvage careers ruined by sex scandal saw their bids for election redemption flame out in New York.

Democrat Anthony Weiner had positioned himself as the ultimate comeback kid, deciding to run for mayor of New York City after quitting Congress in 2011 over a steamy cyber-sex scandal.

But after a campaign fraught with more lurid revelations, Mr Weiner won only five per cent of votes in Tuesday's primary election.

Mr Weiner's online proclivities first came to light when he accidentally tweeted a picture of himself in his underwear to his followers rather than the student he was then courting online.

He initially claimed his account had been hacked and that he had not sent the pictures, but later backtracked, and tearfully quit his post in the US House of Representatives.

For a brief moment, it seemed Mr Weiner might have a shot at political redemption as he topped polls in mid-July.

His campaign was quickly torpedoed, however, when details emerged of further online cavorting.

The 49-year-old admitted sending lewd texts and photographs under the name "Carlos Danger" to a young woman after his resignation from Congress, as well as after the birth of his infant son.

The fresh revelations tested the limits of forgiveness of New Yorkers and Mr Weiner never recovered in the polls. His campaign ended with an emotional speech on Tuesday night.

"We had the best ideas, sadly I was an imperfect messenger," said Mr Weiner.

His wife, Huma Abedin, a former aide to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, was nowhere to be seen.

"Sleazy come, sleazy go," said a New York Post headline, next to pictures of Weiner and fellow sex-shamed candidate Eliot Spitzer.

Mr Spitzer, 54, was governor of New York from 2006 to 2007 when exposure of his liaisons with high-priced Washington call girls forced his resignation.

In July, without the support of his party and his marriage in ruins, he caused widespread surprise by announcing he would run to become New York's financial controller.

"I'm hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it," he told the New York Times in an interview.

Mr Spitzer was neck-and-neck with his rival Scott Stringer in the polls, but ended up losing with 47.8 per cent to his rival's 52.2 per cent.

"For me politics was never a profession, it was a cause," he said as he conceded defeat.

Uncertainty still hung over the Democratic mayoral race on Wednesday.

Public advocate Bill de Blasio was by far the winner, but hovered only a hair's breadth above the 40 per cent needed to avoid a run-off with 97 per cent of votes counted.

His nearest rival is former city financial controller Bill Thompson with 26.2 per cent, who held out hope that De Blasio's 40.2 per cent score would slip and force a run-off.

"We are going to wait for every voice to be heard, every voice to be counted. This is far from over," said Mr Thompson, the sole African-American candidate who narrowly lost to incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009.

New York is overwhelmingly Democratic, even though it has not elected a mayor from that party in 20 years.

The party's candidate will battle Republican Joe Lhota on Nov 5 to replace Mr Bloomberg, who has been at the helm in the Big Apple for 12 years.