Reuters US Online Report Top News
Sep 13, 2011 10:03 EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A steady flow of New Yorkers voted early on Tuesday to replace disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in a seat held since the 1920s by Democrats but with the Republican candidate leading in the polls.
A strong turnout in the Brooklyn-Queens special election was expected to help Democrat David Weprin, a state assemblyman from a well-connected political family, against Republican Bob Turner, a retired media executive who won 40 percent of votes last year in a failed bid to unseat Weiner.
The winner will finish out the final year of Weiner’s term in the U.S. House of Representatives after he resigned amid a Twitter sex scandal.
“It’s consistent, kind of a steady flow,” said voting site coordinator Joseph Hennessy of the ballots cast at P.S. 101 in Forest Hills, Queens.
In about an hour, 100 people streamed into the voting booths, a rate Hennessy described as “about the same as any local election, not a general election.”
One of them, John Keiphly, a Republican, said he voted for Turner for a second time.
“I agree with what he had to say. I would be pleasantly surprised if Turner wins because everyone here is a Democrat,” Keiphly said.
Another voter, John Rossi, 84, said he backed Weprin.
“I would be astounded if Turner wins because this is not the place for him,” Rossi said.
Weprin has tried to cast Turner as part of the Tea Party, which wants smaller government and lower taxes and is unpopular with many liberal New Yorkers. Turner hopes voters will repudiate President Barack Obama’s economic policies.
Recent polls show Republican Turner beating Weprin in the district that has gone Democrat in every election since the 1920s, and where Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one.
The seat was held by Weiner, who resigned after admitting he used Twitter to send lewd pictures of himself to women.
Voter frustration with Obama could help Turner, political observers say.
“This is a good time to be a Republican on the ballot,” said Larry Sabato, political science professor at the University of Virginia. “If you could take a poll of Republicans, 90 percent of them would want the (presidential) election this November.”
But he rejected the notion that the outcome of the New York race would predict the 2012 presidential race’s outcome.
Asked about the election on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney played down the importance of the New York race, noting special elections often see low turnout and are determined by circumstances specific to each district.
Democrats have rushed to help Weprin — who some say is a lackluster campaigner from a family of New York politicians — and who has raised about three times as much money as Turner.
Former President Bill Clinton has recorded robo-calls urging Democrats to vote and Charles Schumer, the senior U.S. senator from New York, who used to represent the district, has accompanied Weprin on the campaign trail.
Republicans also expect to easily hold a Nevada House seat — the only other congressional election on Tuesday. The Nevada election is in a rural district that has never sent a Democrat to Congress.
Republicans control the House 240-192 with three vacancies.
(Reporting by Edith Honan and Paula Rogo; Editing by Mark Egan, Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)
Source: via Source One News