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Weprin has huge money advantage

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Political action committees have donated to Assemblyman David Weprin’s (D-Little Neck) campaign at a rate nearly 50 times as high as his Republican rival, Bob Turner, in the race for the 9th Congressional District seat, Federal Election Commission records showed.

Weprin raised more than $291,000 from PACs while Turner received only $6,000, according to the FEC records.

The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee gave $5,000 to Turner with the New York State Conservative Party donating $1,000.

Dozens of congressman and other elected officials have donated to Weprin, including $2,000 apiece from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside).

Weprin also heavily benefitted from contributions from unions, which accounted for a large portion of the $291,000 he raised from PACs.

Turner received $1,000 each from U.S. Reps. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) and Peter King (R-Massapequa Park), according to the FEC.

Weprin also had 269 individual contributors compared to Turner’s 134 individual donors.

Turner’s campaign received more than $138,000 in contributions, not including a $65,000 loan Turner gave himself, and spent more than $118,000, leaving him with more than $93,700 in cash on hand, according to the latest FEC disclosure information.

Weprin’s campaign took in more than $450,000 in contributions, spent about $250,000 and has more than $202,000 in cash on hand — more than double the amount Turner has left, according to FEC records.

Weprin and Turner were thrust into the race after U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned in May amid a sexting scandal.

The 9th CD seat that they are vying for includes Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and parts of the Rockaways and Brooklyn.

The race has been defined by the candidates’ stances on the federal budget, entitlement programs and Israel, although both Turner and Weprin oppose President Barack Obama’s idea that the Jewish state go back to its pre-1967 war borders as a precondition for negotiations with the Palestinians.

Weprin has attacked Turner, saying his plan to cut the federal budget by 35 percent is not feasible if Turner also wants to preserve Medicare and Social Security.

Turner is slamming Weprin for being a “career politician,” having positions that mimic the unpopular Obama and for failing to state the correct figure when asked what the federal deficit was.

Both campaigns earned critical endorsements in the race, with Turner getting the backing of former Mayor Ed Koch, King, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the Jewish Week, while the United Federation of Teachers, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the firefighters’ union are throwing their weight behind Weprin.

Earlier in the race, a Siena College poll found Weprin leading Turner by six points, but both campaigns had surveys conducted on their behalf last week.

A poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associated and commissioned by Turner found him and Weprin in a dead heat, with both men at 46 percent.

Weprin released his own survey, done by Global Strategy Group, that showed the assemblyman with an eight-point lead over Turner.

In the final days of the campaign, the contest has taken a turn for the weird.

Weprin, a Democrat, had a borough magician named “Wendy Wizard” endorse Turner outside a Rockaway fund-raiser last week, playing off a New York Times editorial that urged voters to cast their ballot for Weprin.

In the endorsement, the Times criticized Turner, a retired businessman from Rockaway, for saying he wants to slash the federal budget while keeping Social Security and Medicare intact.

“That would take a magician, not a businessman,” The Times said.

Turner’s campaign said the Weprin camp was going off the deep end.

“The Weprin campaign is becoming increasingly bizarre. We suggest they all head back to Hogwarts and regroup,” Turner campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly said, referring to the fictional wizard school from the Harry Potter books.

Turner’s campaign accused the Weprin camp of sending in spies that purported to be Turner volunteers while Weprin’s campaign said they had no knowledge of such incidents.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 7:09 pm, September 14, 2011
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