Democratic congressional candidate and State Assemblymember David Weprin has withdrawn from tonight’s scheduled debate with his GOP rival, Bob Turner. The two men are locked in a tough contest to succeed Anthony Weiner in the Ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn and Queens.
Robert Holden president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, cosponsor of the debate, said he checked in with Weprin’s campaign earlier today and was told “logistics” would make it impossible for Weprin to appear un idle Village tonight.
“The hurricane caused major logistical and scheduling problems for the campaign and thus David is not able to make the debate this evening,” Weprin campaign spokesperson, Liz Kerr said in an emailed statement.
Many of Weprin’s people had been unable to get to work today, and the candidate’s schedule was throw into disarray by cancellations due to the weekend’s storm. While there apparently is little to no lingering damage near Bel Mondo Restaurant in Middle Village, where the debate was to take place, there are reports of some flooding in other parts of the district.
Holden, though, was not accepting the hurricane as a reason for Weprin’s change in plans. “This stinks to high heaven,” Holden said.
He said the candidate’s people had been voicing concern about the debate for the past week, expressing fear it could get disorderly and pressing for a forum instead of an actual debate. Holden said he had promised that the debate would be well run – no placards allowed and some police on hand – but he added, “I can’t guarantee you’re not going to get tough questions.”
The cancellation “is going to backfire for Weprin big time, “Holden said. “Anybody who would do this would not be a straight shooter in Congress.”
Last week, the two men engaged in a debate before a rowdy crowd in Kew Gardens. According to YourNabe.com, members of the crowd called Weprin a liar and a hypocrite, prompting the moderator to admonish the crowd and threaten to throw people out of the synagogue where the debate took place.
In an editorial this weekend, the Daily News cast doubt on both candidates’ ability to answer questions – tough or otherwise. Asked the size of the national debt, the News said, Weprin was off by a mere $10 trillion. And Turner said the city should using its zoning power to block a mosque near Ground Zero – even if such action violated the Constitution.
“Suspecting that neither candidate was well-versed in national or local matters, we asked each 10 questions about issues, places and people in the district,” the editorial said. “Weprin and Turner each got seven of 10 answers wrong. Giants they are not.”
The race has become increasingly contentious. With many viewing the Sept. 13 special election variously as a referendum on President Barack Obama, Congress and same-sex marriage, both parties have focused resources in the district. Even Jerry Springer has gotten into the act.
By Gail Robinson on August 29, 2011, 1:17 pm
In category: Electoral Politics
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