For five months, Anthony Weiner tried to make New Yorkers believe that he was worth giving another chance.
His mayoral campaign, he said, was a bet that they would look past his mistakes and listen to his ideas.
He lost that wager. Badly.
Weiner ended the Democratic primary on Tuesday in fifth place, with about 5 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns. On his way to give his concession speech in Manhattan, he had to duck into a side entrance to avoid Sydney Leathers, one of the women with whom he'd once exchanged lewd online messages under the alias Carlos Danger. She showed up outside and declared primary night was the ideal time for them to meet in person.
From the stage, he told supporters: "We had the best ideas. Sadly, I was an imperfect messenger.”
And now his political life is likely over.
For most of his career, Weiner wasn't the guy everyone laughed at. He was charming and funny -- and grating and temperamental. He was a grandstander and a fighter. He seemed to genuinely love public service, and the spotlight it brought him. He served as a city councilman from Brooklyn, and then a congressman.
But what he always wanted was to be mayor.
He ran in 2005, and nearly forced a runoff against Fernando Ferrer, but conceded in the name of party solidarity. He planned to run again in 2009, and was considered a leading contender, but dropped out after Mayor Bloomberg chose to run for a third term. He started raising money for 2013, when Bloomberg would finally be out of the way. He raised about $4 million, enough to be taken very seriously.
And then, in the spring of 2011, Weiner was caught using Twitter to send provocative photos of himself to women. At first, he claimed he’d been hacked. But he eventually confessed, resigned from Congress and went into virtual hiding with his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. At the time, Abedin was pregnant with their first child.
He re-emerged in April of this year in an intimate set of interviews with The New York Times Magazine in which he said he'd salvaged his marriage, received forgiveness and was ready for politics again. He entered the race in May, and shot to the top of the polls in June. In July came revelations on a gossip website named The Dirty that he'd continued his online escapades after his resignation. Abedin appeared with him at a news conference to defend him, but didn't show up again. Carlos Danger jokes fed the late-night talk shows.
Weiner always insisted that he was running because he thought he had more to give his city. Some, including his former congressional constituents, stood behind him, out of loyalty to the work they’d seen him do.
He insisted that the media was undermining his efforts to talk about his ideas. Perhaps that was true. But Weiner also seemed unable to escape ridicule. He called a 69-year-old Republican candidate "grandpa." He made fun of foreign journalists. He faked a Caribbean accent on a parade float. At the Dominican Day parade, he jogged Sixth Avenue in slim-fitting red pants while waving a flag. He got into a shouting match with a man at a Brooklyn bakery who insulted him and his wife.
It was sometimes hard to tell if loved the attention, or hated it.
He did interviews for "Meet the Press" and the "Today" show last weekend and complained that his campaign had been reduced to a "soap opera." He vowed not to stop when things got "a little tough."
On primary day, Weiner got into an argument with a woman in Harlem who ridiculed him and told him to drop out.
"You are all about you," she said.
"Get used to it," he replied.
A few hours later, the returns came in.
One last time, Anthony Weiner had asked his city for another chance.
And New Yorkers told him to scram.
Then, when it was all over, as he drove away from his concession speech, he flipped a reporter the middle finger.