With Weiner's exit, is his House seat safe for Democrats?
Local Republicans see an opening, but they'd need to persuade the national GOP to invest in a special election in N.Y. Ninth. Anthony Weiner resigned the seat Thursday amid a sexting scandal.
The House seat that disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York gave up on Thursday has long been considered bona fide Democratic territory, bolstered by a 3-to-1 party advantage in registered voters.Skip to next paragraph
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But local Republicans have more than a glimmer of hope now that Mr. Weiner has resigned, after having tweeted lewd photos of himself to various women and lied about it. They are pressing their case to the national GOP to invest in a bid to snatch the Ninth Congressional District from Democrats in a special election, which could take place as soon as August (but probably no later than November).
A Republican takeover of the district – which stretches from the picturesque beach community of Breezy Point in Brooklyn to the apartment complexes and kosher delis of Rego Park in Queens – would be an uphill battle, but not impossible.
IN PICTURES: Who is Congressman Anthony Weiner?
In May, voters in another special election in New York switched parties after the incumbent was caught in an online impropriety. Rep. Chris Lee (R) resigned his seat in a heavily GOP district near Buffalo when it became known that the congressman, who is married, had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met on craigslist.com. Voters turned around and elected a Democrat (though a fight over Medicare may have played a bigger role).
Local Republicans also note that Weiner won in 2010 with 60 percent of the vote at a time when other Democratic candidates were winning by larger margins. Although the Ninth District has a high percentage of typically liberal Jewish voters, many are Orthodox. They tend to vote along more conservative lines, as do the district's contingent of naturalized citizens from Russia.
Craig Eaton, head of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Republican Party, says a serious GOP bid is worth a shot. Once the Weiner sexting revelations broke, Mr. Eaton reached out to the national party, anticipating that the congressman would have to resign.
“The single biggest need is money,” he said in a phone interview. “We have to make sure we have the necessary funding to run a competitive race.”
One factor that could change the dynamic is that the Ninth District, as currently configured, may not be around for long.
In 2012 New York will be losing two congressional seats as a result of redistricting after the 2010 Census. This summer, the state legislature in Albany will be responsible for consolidating one Republican district upstate and one Democratic district closer to New York City.