Race for Anthony Weiner's old seat heats up

In this Sept. 10, 2009 file photo, David Weprin participates in a debate for the office of comptroller, in New York. Weprin, 55, a Queens assemblyman, has been chosen by Democratic leaders as their candidate to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned last month after a sexting scandal. Weprin will compete for the 9th district Congressional seat in a special election Sept. 13.
Pool, File,AP Photo/Ken Goldfield
AP Photo/Ken Goldfield, Pool, File

The Republican candidate vying to replace Anthony Weiner has a slight lead over his Democratic challenger in a new poll released just days before Tuesday's special election in the heavily Democratic district in New York.

Republican Robert Turner is ahead of Democrat David Weprin by six points, 50 percent to 44 percent, according the poll of likely 9th district voters released Friday by the Siena Research Institute. Both candidates are ratcheting up their campaigns in the final days, with high profile endorsements, advertising and support from the national parties.

Turner, a cable television executive, is viewed favorably by 48 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 34 percent, while Weprin, a State Assemblyman from Queens, has a 41 to 41 percent favorability/unfavorability rating. Voters also said Turner is running a more positive campaign.

Voters are still more likely to think that Weprin will win the district, where Democratic voters outweigh Republicans in the district by more than three to one. Still, compared with earlier polls, more voters now say Turner is likely to win.

Turner and Weprin will face off for New York's 9th on Sept. 13. The seat became open after Weiner resigned from Congress in June after a weeks-long firestorm surrounding the revelation that he had sent lewd photographs of himself to various women on the Internet.

Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a release that "voters' mood on the direction of the country, coupled with the unfavorable rating of President Obama - particularly among Republicans and independents - makes this a tougher election for Weprin, or for any Democrat running in this district or a district like it."

Greenberg pointed out that in a low turnout special election, the campaigns' get-out-the-vote operations are crucial.

Democrats are airing ads in the final days of the race, hoping voters come around to Weprin. The Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee was set to air an ad slamming Turner's support for corporate tax loopholes, but the ad was pulled and modified. The DCCC changed the ad, which featured a plane flying over the Manhattan skyline -- an upsetting image to some around the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The pro-Democrat group House Majority PAC is also running a last-minute ad in the pricey New York media market in favor of Weprin.

Meanwhile, Turner's campaign had television personality and businessman Donald Trump endorse Turner in a robocall to voters this week. "I'm not calling to fire you, as we say on The Apprentice," Trump says in the call. "I'm calling to fire you up."

Regardless of the September 13 election's outcome, the future of New York's 9th district remains to be seen: as a result of the 2010 census, New York is losing two congressional seats, and New York's 9th, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, may be at risk of elimination. That means the winner of the special election in may quickly be out of a job.