Search for Weiner replacement begins

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The heads of the borough’s two major parties are expected to name their nominees to replace former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner by later this week at the earliest after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a Sept. 13 special election to fill the vacant 9th Congressional District seat in Forest Hills.

Weiner resigned in disgrace last month after admitting to tweeting a photo of his boxer-clad crotch to a Seattle college student. He initially lied and claimed his Twitter account was hacked.

A source close to the Queens Democratic Party said state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) is the odds-on favorite to be picked as the Democratic candidate for the seat by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who also doubles as the Queens Democratic Party chairman.

“If I was gambling, I would bet on Rory,” the source said, claiming the assemblyman is out of favor with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

“He’s had some run-ins with Shelly,” the source said.

But Lancman denied butting heads with the speaker.

“I haven’t had clashes with [Silver],” Lancman said. “We have a good relationship, I have excellent committee assignments.”

On the Republican side, the Queens GOP is not tipping its hand as to who it will designate as the party’s nominee, but among the contenders is retired Rockaway businessman Bob Turner, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign against Weiner in 2009.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said Tuesday he would not run for the seat.

Queens GOP spokesman Robert Hornak said seven or eight candidates have expressed interest in running on the Republican side.

“We’re going to screen every potential candidate before we make a final decision,” he said. “We’ve cast a wide net.”

Both parties have until Monday to name their nominee, who will run under the party’s line during the special election.

With the state set to lose two congressional seats due to redistricting following the 2010 census, most political observers believe the 9th Congressional District — which covers Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, part of the Rockaways and Brooklyn — will be eliminated, which makes the seat less attractive to ambitious politicians.

Other Democratic names mentioned to be in the running include former City Council members Eric Gioia and Melinda Katz, City Councilmen Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), former Borough President Claire Shulman and former Congresswoman and city Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman of Brooklyn.

“It’s going to be interesting,” the source said.

The special election is set for Sept. 13, Primary Day, when there will also be special elections to fill the seats of former Assemblywomen Nettie Mayersohn in Flushing and Audrey Pheffer in Rockaway Beach.

Mayersohn, 85, retired in April after nearly 30 years in the Assembly, while Pheffer stepped down last month to fill the vacant county clerk position.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 11:09 am, October 12, 2011
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