Early indications point to state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) as the Queens Democratic Party pick to run for the congressional seat formerly held by scandal-scarred former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, but Republicans plans were not as clear cut.
A spokesman for Weprin said that the assemblyman will likely be announced as the candidate Friday morning.
“It is expected that David Weprin will be unanimously supported by the Democratic parties of Brooklyn and Queens,” Evan Stavisky said.
A Weprin aide who answered the phone at his Little Neck office declined to comment, but said the assemblyman would issue a statement in the afternoon. Another call put into Weprin’s office was answered with the phrase: “Are you calling for David Weprin for Congress?”
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Queens Democratic Party chairman, did not respond to queries, but minutes later another frontrunner for the seat, state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), tweeted: “Congrats to our next congressman, David Weprin. It was an honor to have been considered. On to a big Democratic victory on Sept. 13.”
Weiner resigned June 16 after admitting that he lied about sending racy photographs of himself to women through social media.
A Queens political source expressed shock at the Weprin selection and said former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman of Brooklyn seemed like the most likely candidate for the job.
But the source also said Weprin’s run for the congressional seat — which is likely to be redistricted out of existence in 2013 — makes sense for his political career
The year spent in Congress could serve as a stepping stone for Weprin to set his cap for city comptroller if current City Comptroller John Liu decides to run for mayor. Weprin lost to Liu in 2009.
But on the Republican side, two candidates have emerged who have divided the party, according to another Queens political source.
Retired Rockaway businessman Bob Turner’s name has been thrown around since Weiner stepped down in mid-June. Turner, who ran against Weiner in the last election, has openly expressed his interest in the seat and has been backed by City Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Ozone Park) and Queens Republican district leader hopeful Bart Haggerty.
Haggerty and his brother John have long been involved in a feud with another Republican faction headed by Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa. Ragusa and Vince Tabone, his vice chairman, want to see a relatively unknown lawyer named Juan Reyes in the seat, the source said.
A spokesman for the Queens Republican Party did not address the split and said no frontrunners had been announced.
“We are taking our time with selections,” Robert Hornak said. “The party is still considering many strong candidates… we think this is a winnable seat.”
But the source said the county-level bickering could jepordize the congressional seat in the run against Weprin.
Weprin served in the City Council for eight years until he ran for city comptroller in 2009.
His brother, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), then filled the vacancy.
But then the brothers simply switched jobs in February 2010 after David Weprin was defeated by Liu and won Mark Weprin’s Assembly seat.
Connor Adam Sheets contributed reporting for this article.
©2011 Community News Group
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