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Could GOP seize Weiner’s district?

Though Rep. Anthony Weiner’s district is solidly Democratic, its working class Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods are not the worst place for New York Republicans to dream of pulling off an upset.

Democrats have a 130,000 voter registration advantage and the district has been represented by a Democrat for decades. Weiner was first elected in 1998 and has enjoyed a number of easy victories since.

Still, the Brooklyn part of the district voted for Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and Weiner faced one of his toughest reelections last year, when Republican businessman Bob Turner spent more than $100,000 of his own money to campaign. Turner won 39% of the vote. He’s being discussed as a possible repeat contender, along with a member of the New York City Council.

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Republicans have not had particularly good luck with recent special elections in New York. After losing a safe GOP seat last month, they were not raising expectations for another high-profile race. One Republican aide called the voter registration numbers “Mount Everest” for the GOP.The other wild card in the mix is what the district will look like next year.

New York is losing two seats this cycle because of shifting population trends, and the new boundaries have yet to be drawn. After the scandal broke, Democrats speculated that state lawmakers might eliminate Weiner’s district if he would not to step down.

With the congressman’s resignation, that plan may evaporate. Weiner’s mostly Jewish-Italian district has a rapidly growing Asian population and growing districts don’t usually disappear.

It’s also not yet clear when the election will occur. According to New York law, the governor can call a special election that must be scheduled no less than 70 and no more than 80 days after it is announced. Party leaders pick their nominees and independent candidates can collect signatures to get on the ballot.

If the governor doesn’t call a special election, the seat would appear on the November ballot, according to a spokesman for the state elections board.

Geraldine Baum contributed from New York.


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