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Weprin Faces Tough Road to Victory in Big Apple

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Candidate David Weprin addresses a gathering of the Ohr Natan congregation of Bukharian Jews in the Rego Park section of Queens.

Turner explained that he hadn't immediately pushed to be the GOP candidate for special election, deferring to up-and-coming New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich. But when Ulrich took a pass on running, Turner pressed the county parties to make him the GOP nominee.

"We had an organization already built up; we had momentum," he said.

Turner retired from active management as a television executive in 2002 and said he had spent the subsequent years managing his personal business affairs and spending time with his family including his 13 grandchildren.

"That wasn't such a bad life," he said wistfully.

A Disappearing District

Turner has focused his campaign's messaging on jobs and the economy, as well as Israel. He argues that voters can best signal their displeasure with the president's policies toward the Jewish state by voting Republican.

Flanked by an American flag, addressing his volunteers, Turner said they were building on the 2010 election. "A lot of the groundwork we did last year is starting to pay off," he explained.

"Your enthusiasm is infectious," said Turner, not sounding particularly enthusiastic himself.

In fact, from the national parties to residents walking through the district, no one seems particularly enthusiastic about the election.

Indeed, the district is likely to disappear in January 2013: New York lost two seats in reapportionment, and it appears likely that the 9th will be eliminated during redistricting.

On Greenway North, a quiet tree-lined residential road with beautiful old houses in Forest Hills Gardens, less than a thousand feet from where the late Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D) lived when she represented the district, a man wearing a blue bucket hat said he was only vaguely aware of the special election but knew enough.

"I know there's one Democrat with a mustache and one Republican," he said, revealing more knowledge than most. Asked what he thought of the candidates, he was blunt: "They're both shitty, to be honest with you."

If that is indeed the case, two lackluster candidates competing in a Democratic district would appear likely to end up favoring the Democrat.

"I do think that this is still a Congressional seat in the city of New York, which is still overwhelmingly Democratic. That's why I believe that Weprin will eventually pull it out," New York City-based Democratic strategist Basil Smikle said. But, Smikle added, the race "is going to be a lot closer than people think."

Clarification: Sept. 7, 2011

The quote from Jake Dilemani, David Weprin's campaign manager, refers to the district being tough for voter turnout.

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