Weiner Seat in Jeopardy for Dems?

David Weprin. Next Left Notes/WikiCommons


The House seat vacated by disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner suddenly doesn’t look so safe for Democrats. That’s thanks in part to a series of untimely gaffes by Democratic candidate David Weprin, who will face off against Republican Bob Turner in a special election on September 13.

Here’s TPM:

The influential New York Daily News savaged Weprin over the weekend after he belly flopped on a simple question from their editors: what is the national debt? With a reported “deer in headlights” look, he twice guessed $4 trillion, about $10 trillion off from the correct answer. As cringe-worthy a moment as it was on its own, its impact is much worse in Weprin’s case: he’s been selling himself as a fiscal Mr. Fix-it, touting his eight years as chair of the City Council’s finance committee as his top qualification.

The next day Weprin dropped out of a debate with Turner at the last minute, citing logistical problems caused by the hurricane. But the storm had already passed and the move prompted speculation—fanned by [Republican candidate Bob] Turner’s camp—that Weprin had dropped out to avoid taking heat for his debt screw-up the day before.

A little bad press will not sink a campaign. But one poll showed Weprin leading Turner by just six points before the gaffe machine went into overdrive. Democratic strategists still think Weprin’s going to win. But he’ll have to lean even more heavily on union support, milk a plum endorsement from The New York Times for all it’s worth, and go full-on negative. So far, that’s meant trying (and mostly failing) to link the apparently moderate Turner to the tea party. It’s a tough sell.

For his part, Turner has had no problem taking cheap shots at Weprin, using TV ads to tie him to the Cordoba House “controversy” and insinuating that Democrats are prepared to sell out Israel (Weprin is an Orthodox Jew). With the election’s close proximity to the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the candidates are expected to dial back the vitriol in their campaigns’ closing days.

Weiner’s district is considered a Dem stronghold. If Weprin loses, expect liberal pundits to sound the death knell for the party in 2012. Which, of course, would be a totally kneejerk, exaggerated reaction. But don’t forget: although it takes a team of dedicated, tireless strategists to win an election, it takes just one ill-prepared candidate to blow it. 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.