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Collins: New York's message to U.S.

  • (WALT HANDELSMAN / Newsday)

What lessons can non-New Yorkers draw from the city's primary elections?

Where do we begin?

Right now, you're probably asking yourself: What do the results of this week's elections in New York City mean to me? This could be a pressing question, even if you live in, say, Des Moines. When New York votes, there's always an Iowa take-away.

For instance, on Tuesday all the sex-scandal veterans were defeated — Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, and a City Council candidate named Vito Lopez. It's possible you have never heard of that last one, but he was just terrible: the king of grope.

Also, a City Council candidate involved in another sexual harassment case lost after voters learned that he had made unwanted verbal advances to a female staffer during games of virtual Scrabble.

So the question is: What lessons can non-New Yorkers draw from all this?

A) Wow, you people have really weird candidates.

B) This is the end of the second act for politicians who lose their jobs because of sexual misbehavior. They'll no longer be able to imagine that they can get back in the game under the guise of wanting to “serve the community.”

C) There are sex scandals, and then there are sex scandals.

Well, A is definitely right. If you are a New Yorker, people in other parts of the country will often tell you: “Boy, I wish I could spend some time in New York!” But nobody ever says: “Boy, I wish I could vote in New York!” And for good reason.

Not B. Back-from-sex-scandal candidates will always be with us, particularly if the comeback target is a seat in Congress. Voters will overlook a lot when it comes to Congress, perhaps because they like the idea of sending these people out of town.

Just this spring, South Carolina shipped the disgraced ex-governor Mark Sanford off to the House. Just this week, National Journal reported that Sanford got a special exemption from the rules so that his mistress-turned-fiancée could accompany him on a congressional trip to Israel. I would like to discuss all the thoughts that come to mind when we combine “Mark Sanford” and “trip,” but there is just not enough room.

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