Republicans target New York Democratic stronghold

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 13, 2011 7:04 AM
Republicans target New York Democratic stronghold

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republicans hope to score an upset victory in a Democratic stronghold Tuesday when New Yorkers vote to replace Anthony Weiner, who resigned from the House of Representatives amid a Twitter sex scandal.

The special election pits 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.

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 over the economy 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 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 Tuesday. Republicans control the House 240-192 with three vacancies.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Mark Egan)