MICHELLE (@mjaconiCNN) & DAN (@DanMericaCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry – the prototype for political disgrace and political resurrection – tells Gut Check that he can relate to the attempted political comebacks of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
“I can identify with them,” Barry said. “I know what people are going through who have fallen, people who have stumbled. I went through some of it, in a different way.”
Come September, Democratic voters in New York will have a big question to answer when they go to the ballot box: Are they prepared to give two men a chance at political resurrection?
Spitzer is running for New York City comptroller, his first foray back into elected politics since a 2008 prostitution scandal forced him from politics. Weiner is running for New York City mayor just a few years after a sexting scandal prompted him to resign his congressional seat.
Two men, one ballot and a wealth of ethics questions to be answered.
After Barry’s brushes with the law – a 1990 drug conviction, a six-month jail sentence, and a 2005 guilty plea to misdemeanor tax charges – voters in Washington were asked those same questions and Washingtonians opted to give the former mayor a second chance.
He served four terms as mayor, until 1999, and has been on the D.C. Council since 2002. Furthermore, a 2012 poll showed that Barry, a veteran of the Civil Rights movement who was first elected to public office in the 1970s, was most popular local politician in the District of Columbia.
History is littered with political comebacks, and with so many out there, the question is: is there a roadmap for mounting one? If there is, Barry has the answer. And while it may be surprising, Spitzer and Weiner could learn a thing or two by asking a simple question: what would Marion do?
“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. And then you try and find out how you get out of that hole,” Barry said, stressing that both Weiner and Spitzer need to show that while they are remorseful, they have a vision.
To this day, Barry denies that he ever had a political scandal and instead chooses to label his drug charges as the time the government tried to entrap him. Barry said his situation is different than Spitzer or Weiner.
“It takes a lot of courage to come back,” Barry said. “It takes a lot of tenacity, a lot of heart to believe more in yourself than people believe in you.”
When we interviewed Barry last year he reminded us that it helps to be blunt: “I didn’t run to be pope, I ran to be mayor,” said Barry.