Campaigns gear up for special election in Weiner's old district
September 12th, 2011
06:10 PM ET
11 years ago

Campaigns gear up for special election in Weiner's old district

(CNN) - All was quiet Sunday in the final weekend before a special election that determines who will fill ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's seat, as both campaigns paused to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

But with polls opening Tuesday in Brooklyn and Queens, the two candidates were back to full speed Monday, with Democrats making a last effort push to keep the GOP from winning a potential upset in the longtime Democratic district.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

A Siena Research Institute poll released Friday showed Republican Bob Turner leading Democrat David Weprin by six percentage points, reversing results from the same poll a month earlier, which had Weprin ahead by the same amount.

Turner supporters have painted the campaign as a referendum on President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Meanwhile national Democratic groups have funneled in hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad buys within the last week, and Obama's re-election organization sent out hoards of volunteers to canvass for Weprin, signaling fears of a loosening grip on the race.

On Monday, Democratic elected officials from the area joined Weprin, including Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens, to drum up more get-out-the-vote efforts in the district by Tuesday.

Weprin, who rarely used Obama's name while campaigning, pulled big endorsements from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former President Bill Clinton. They both recorded calls in support of Weprin to go out to voters Monday and Tuesday.

On Saturday, his campaign hosted an event in an apparent attempt to appeal to Democratic women in the district. Elected officials and women's health advocates gathered to rally for Weprin and blast Turner for his pro-life stance on abortion.

While Turner has been lauding his recent GOP endorsements–namely Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump–national Republican groups haven't been throwing as much money behind their candidate compared to the Democrats.

The Republican National Committee and the New York State GOP launched fundraising efforts within the last few days, in addition to the Tea Party Express cutting a check for $5,000 for Turner while asking supporters to contribute, as well.

"A revolution is in process in NY9, where the people are demonstrating that they are sick and tired of liberal roadblocks to progress and want to send a representative to Washington that will represent them with integrity," said Levi Russell, communications director for Tea Party Express.

The race, which kicked off in mid-June, had little expectations to end in a head-to-head sprint. With Democrats outnumbering Republicans by three to one in the district, the local party assumed they had a safe bet in Weprin, whose family name has deep roots in Queens politics.

But over the summer, one defined by partisan gridlock in Washington over the fight to raise the federal debt ceiling, Turner gained momentum touting his inexperience in politics and his business in background.

The former TV executive had a few things going for him in the beginning. He already had some name recognition after challenging Weiner in November and losing with a stronger-than-usual second place finish, winning 40 percent of the vote.

Turner's biggest turning point came when former New York City Mayor Ed Koch crossed party lines to endorse him, hoping a Republican win in the district would send a message to Obama on the president's policies toward Israel.

Weprin, an orthodox Jew, fought back, trying to convince voters he was the better friend of Israel. And in one of the strongest Jewish districts in the country, the issue became front and center in the race.

The competition continued to heat up over issues ranging from the mosque near ground zero to the Zadroga Act that aids 9/11 first responders as well as to the federal debt. And, regarding the the last item, Weprin drew heavy criticism for guessing the federal debt amount wrong by more than $10 trillion.

Both campaigns turned negative early on, with Weprin often characterizing his opponent as "Tea Party Turner," a wealthy businessman who wants more tax breaks for the rich, while Turner's campaign frequently referred to Weprin as a "career politician" who won't make any changes in Washington.

But no matter who wins on Tuesday, the Congressman may not have the seat for long. Due to population loss, New York has to cut two congressional districts and NY9 has been widely speculated to get the ax in a redistricting process set to finalize in 2013.

Filed under: Anthony Weiner • New York • President Obama
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. T'sah from Virginia

    Democrats need to get out there and VOTE. This is serious and NO ONE should sit home thinking the other person is going to win anyway and their vote is NOT going to count!!

    September 12, 2011 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. virginia nielsen Florida

    Please Democrats, don't let the sick Republicans win any more seats, because they will do the same thing that they did after the Nov 2010 elections... nothing besides block anything that Pres Obama wants for the real americans like me !!!

    September 12, 2011 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  3. Thai

    Only Democrats need to vote, T'sah?

    September 12, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |