For his part, Weiner acknowledged in his concession speech that he was an “imperfect messenger” but also boasted of the staying power of himself and his campaign.
Weiner had been in political exile since he resigned from Congress in 2011 for sending women lewd online messages and pictures. He got into the mayor’s race in May, and aside from a few dust-ups with hecklers, was largely well-received at first, holding the lead for most of June and July.
But after an obscure gossip website named The Dirty released X-rated exchanges between Weiner and Leathers that took place well after the candidate quit the House of Representatives, Weiner — and his sexting pseudonym, Carlos Danger — once again became a national punchline.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Weiner was far behind in the city’s Democratic mayoral primary.
Spitzer took a steadier path to his loss. He took an early lead in the polls, but the race tightened dramatically in recent weeks as the Democratic establishment rallied around Stringer, his main opponent.
Unlike Weiner, who made a point of fielding voters’ questions about his scandal, Spitzer apologized a few times and then refused to talk about it.
He largely eschewed retail campaigning — situations that could have led to awkward exchanges with voters — in favor of national TV interviews and a big television ad campaign, financed with his own millions.
But he could not avoid all mention of the scandal. The city’s tabloids hounded him about the state of his marriage; Spitzer said he was still married, but his wife never appeared on the campaign trail.
“All of us should serve, participate,” Spitzer told supporters in his concession speech. “I intend to do so in different ways.”