As national leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to turn up the heat on Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) and call for his resignation, the bold-faced names of many Queens political players — some in office; others working in the private sector — have emerged as possible contenders should Weiner step down and a special election be called for the 9th Congressional District seat.
At press time, Weiner remained on an official two-week leave of absence from Congress as he seeks professional treatment in the wake of a lurid sexting scandal involving several women. He has said he has no intentions of resigning, but leaders in his own party — including President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — have indicated that he should call it quits.
If Weiner follows the party line, the seat of an overwhelmingly Democratic district that stretches from the Rockaways to Middle Village would be up for grabs. In the Republican corner, Weiner’s 2010 campaign opponent, Bob Turner, and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) have been bandied about as possible challengers. Turner’s son and spokesman, Matt, said his father, who notched 41 percent of the vote last November, would “seriously consider” running “if the party backs him up financially.” Matt Turner also indicated that “senior people in the Republican Party” have reached out to his father, a semi-retired former television executive.
Turner raised the prospect of how redistricting, and the possible loss of two New York congressional seats following the 2010 census, could directly affect who runs.
“My father is the likely candidate for the party because he doesn’t really have career ambitions,” Matt said. “It’s very risky for somebody else, I think.”
Asked if he was interested in the position, Ulrich told the Chronicle he “would take a second look at it,” and noted that redistricting would play a role in his decision.
Queens GOP spokesman Robert Hornak said the party does not have a short list of candidates, but “we certainly want to consider all comers.” He pointed out that Weiner has yet to resign, and wouldn’t be surprised if the embattled pol stood his ground.
“The guy is so arrogant, it’s possible,” Hornak said, adding that the QGOP has created the petition-based website resignweiner.com. “The only way [he resigns] is if the Democrats find a nice job for him to move to and save face. It’s extremely possible he’ll try to ride it out.”
In the Democratic corner, the list of potential candidates includes state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), his brother, City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), and former City Council members Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia.
While Lancman declined to comment for this story, Addabbo, whose father held the 5th, 6th and 7th Congressional District seats in his 25 years in the House, said that his job as a state senator is his No. 1 priority.
“I’m not thinking of it at this point,” he said. “If it should come up, I’ll make a decision at that time.”
Addabbo later added that “the stability of the 9th Congressional District seat might not be there — and people who would run would have to consider that.”
Assemblyman Weprin acknowledged “it certainly is an honor that people have mentioned [running] to me,” but there are a lot of factors to mull.
“I wouldn’t rule it out, but obviously there is no vacancy yet,” he said. “I think Congressman Weiner has done a good job representing his district, and is doing the right thing by seeking medical help. I’m not looking to call for his immediate resignation. I don’t want to jump the gun — let’s just let the process play out.”
Councilman Weprin agreed with his brother on Weiner’s political record, adding that at this point “he’s got to make decisions that are in the best interest of his family and constituents.” Asked if he was interested in running, Weprin said, “Any time there is an open congressional seat in the area you represent, you have to look at it.”
Katz, an attorney who lives in Forest Hills, did not return a call seeking comment. Gioia, of Sunnyside, works for a private bank and could not be reached.
U.S. representatives must be at least 25 years old, a citizen for seven years and an inhabitant of the state they represent.