As race in Weiner's district closes in, stakes get higher
September 2nd, 2011
05:57 PM ET
10 years ago

As race in Weiner's district closes in, stakes get higher

(CNN) – With less than two weeks before the Sept. 13 special election in ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's district, new signs point to Democratic concerns over the race evolving into a referendum on President Barack Obama.

In what was once presumed to be a safe win for Democrats, the Obama for America re-election get-out-the-vote organization sent out volunteers Friday in the New York district to campaign for Democrat David Weprin.

Jeremy Bird, national field director for Obama for America, released an email this week to supporters asking for ground troops to canvass in Queens Friday.

"You should join the event in Forest Hills on Friday to help contact voters in David's district - the calls you make could be the ones that put him over the top," Bird wrote in the statement.

But according to recent poll numbers, Obama supporters may not have much sway in that part of town.

While Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one in the district, Obama had a 45 percent favorable rating in the area, according to a Sienna Research Institute poll in August.

The number falls roughly on par with Obama's nationwide approval ratings taken at the same time.

Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch had a 69 percent favorable rating in the district. Koch drew national attention when he injected himself in the race, endorsing the Republican, Bob Turner. The former mayor is hoping to send a message to Obama that Democrats feel dissatisfied with the president's policies on Israel's future borders.

The same Sienna poll showed that Weprin had a narrow, six-percentage point lead over Turner in early August, a closer match-up than expected by local analysts.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent about $3,000, hoping to keep the longtime Democratic stronghold on the district, according to a source at the committee.

And both campaigns are touting their internal polls this week.

According to a DCCC-commissioned poll, Weprin leads Turner by eight percentage points with 14 percent of likely voters undecided.

A McLaughlin & Associates poll released by Republicans showed the two candidates tied at 42 percent with 16 percent of likely voters undecided.

Internal polls are rarely considered predictable or accurate indicators of where candidates stand in an election.

The poll numbers followed a week of bizarre twists in the race. Turner blasted Weprin for telling the New York Daily News editorial board Sunday that the federal debt is only $4 trillion, a figure that's about $10 trillion off the mark.

The $14-trillion national debt was a key number used throughout the summer long stand-off between Republicans and Democrats over the debt deal reached Aug. 2.

"If Mr. Weprin wants to keep running for higher offices, he ought to read a newspaper," Turner's campaign said in a statement Monday.

That same day, Weprin canceled his appearance for a scheduled debate in Queens, citing weather conditions from Hurricane Irene, which passed through New York the previous day.

In response, Turner's campaign pointed to the day's dry weather conditions and offered to drive Weprin to the debate. A Turner volunteer even drove the route from Weprin's campaign headquarters to the debate location in Queens to prove the path was clear.

But Weprin maintained his staff had trouble getting to his headquarters because of the hurricane's aftermath.

On Thursday, Weprin's campaign announced it sent a magician named "Wendy Wizard" to a Turner event to endorse the Republican. The campaign said it was trying to show "in a light way" that it would take an act of magic for Turner to carry out his campaign promises of both cutting the budget and lowering taxes without affecting Medicare and Medicaid.

According to a statement from Weprin:

"Tea Party Turner's smoke and mirror budget tricks require a level of magical ability that only the greatest illusionists have mastered," Wizard said from her underground lair in an undisclosed part of Queens while stroking a black cat named Oolong. "I'm proud to support my fellow magician's candidacy because I know that Tea Party Turner will pull the money we need to save Medicare right out of thin air."

The stunts continued Friday when Turner's team accused Weprin's team of spying on their campaign. Turner's campaign sent out a statement, asking "Who is this man?" with a photo displayed below of a Weprin volunteer holding a camera at a Turner event.

Turner's campaign claimed the man was one of four "known moles" they've so far detected trying to sneak into the group. This particular man, they said, asked to be a volunteer for Turner.

"Bob Turner is talking about serious issues like job growth, federal debt, and the Obama Administration's hostile stance toward Israel, while David Weprin is playing grammar-school spy games," said Turner campaign spokesman William O'Reilly in a statement.

Weprin's spokeswoman Liz Kerr told CNN Friday that the man in the photo is in fact a Weprin staff member but was video-taping a public forum, not an internal campaign meeting.

She called Turner's accusation a "desperate attempt to distract" from the issues.

Filed under: Anthony Weiner • Congress • New York
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginia

    Democrats need to stick together -– PERIOD!!!

    September 2, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. jane

    Folks you better get out and vote....unless you want more teabaggers in congress....we see how well that's working

    September 2, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Ron

    IF these NY'rs vote for the republicans, they deserve what they get. It's not like they don't already know what the GOP/Tea party is all about. But, then again, NY didn't have much damage from Irene, so nothing to worry about. No one in NY needs FEMA.

    September 2, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  4. Terry TX

    This is going to be one drawn out ugly mess of fights for the next year. These 2 parties are so in conflict it will take a miracle to make anything at all happen that helps this country. Obama may not be perfect, but I sure as hell won't vote for the GOP in any shape or form. They have never taken accountability for any of our economic mess and to give them a pass is totally insane.

    September 2, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Larry L

    I'm quite tired of politicians in America worrying about Israel. We have real problems here in America and Israel has always seemed very capable in taking care of it's own. If New York Democrats worry about Israel they should pack their bags and catch a flight for Tel Aviv. Causing the Democratic Party to fragment isn't productive at this juncture.

    September 2, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. malabar

    It will be funny to see the usual libs on here reverse their stance on intelligence and competence to support a dem who does not knw what the national debt is, obviously chickened out of a debate, and used a witch to talk to voters hahaha, how christine o'donell of him! so, with no further ado, take it away hypocrites . . . no one can tell ur full of it 😉

    September 3, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |