Anything can happen in the special election for the House in the district formerly served by Anthony Weiner, a new poll suggests.
Democrat David Weprin has just a six-point edge over his Republican rival, Bob Turner, 48-42 percent in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic but has been leaning to the right in recent presidential elections, according to the Siena College telephone survey of 501 likely voters, taken August 3-8.
Most voters appear to have made up their mind with the race less than one month away, with only nine percent undecided. While both candidates live in Queens, Weprin, a state Assemblyman and former Councilman, has a 10-point edge there, 50 percent to 40 percent; Turner, a former cable and broadcasting executive who ran for the same seat last year, has a narrow edge in the Brooklyn part of the district, 49-43 percent.
“While Weprin holds a two-to-one advantage over Turner with Democrats, Turner has a nearly six-to-one lead among Republicans and a slim four-point lead with independent voters," said pollster Steve Greenberg.
The winner of the contest gets to fight the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep them from dividing up the district in the reapportionment as is widely believed to be in the cards.
Turner has some high-profile endorsements that are liable to resonate with the district's Jewish voters, including Democrat Ed Koch and Republican Rudy Giuliani. Weprin has been backed by independent ex-Dem Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The poll found that endorsements by public figures are more effective in the race than endorsements from any of the city's major newspapers.
Closer to the race, Weprin is likely to trot out nods from Sen.Chuck Schumer, who represented the district until 1998, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Turner has been hitting Weprin hard on everything from his support of the so-called Ground Zero mosque to what Turner calls ambiguous comments on funding to the Palestinians.
In a fundraising letter sent to The Jewish Week on Aug. 8th, Weprin says "running in a special election for Congress against a millionaire, self-funding candidate in the middle of the summer is not an easy or inexpensive task. Additionally, as there are only two Congresional elections in the country right now, the national Republicans are eyeing this race very closely and will likely be throwing their considerable financial resources behind my opponent."
A spokesman for Turner, Bill O'Reilly, said Turner was only spending "seed money" of his own. "Almost all of it will be raised by individuals," he said of the remaining funds. The Daily News reports today the Lieberman and Silver will host a kosher, $1,000 a plate funder for Weprin Aug. 31 at Abigael's in Midtown.
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