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He’s the Brooklyn machine’s candidate — and he’s from Queens!
The Brooklyn Democratic Party, headed by Boss Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick), helped choose a well-connected Queens politician with little Brooklyn street cred — Assemblyman David Weprin — as the its candidate to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner in Congress.
Weprin, who’ll likely win election in a district that has nearly twice as many registered Democrats as it does Republicans, will face off against Bob Turner, who lost to Weiner in 2010 when he earned 40 percent of the vote.
That close call may have pushed Democrats toward a more centrist candidate, and Weprin, an observant Jew who is progressive on social issues and fiscally conservative, fits that mold.
But that doesn’t mean he knows much about the Brooklyn side of the district — which includes Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park — that he will likely be representing.
In fact, when we talked to him last week, the only Brooklyn pedigree Weprin could speak of was the fact that his parents were born and raised here once upon a time.
“They met at Thomas Jefferson High School [in East New York] and had their first date on the Coney Island Parachute Jump. They also went to Brooklyn College together,” he explained during a visit to Canarsie’s Thomas Jefferson Club on Conklin Avenue Thursday night — his first public appearance after getting the nod.
Despite that connection to the borough, Weprin couldn’t pass our very simple Brooklyn test:
• When asked about the area he may soon represent, he noted it has “a lot of beaches” but could only name one: Gerritsen Beach.
• Asked to name a favorite borough restaurant, he went with the old standby Junior’s, which is located miles from the district.
• Weprin said he’s brought his kids to Coney Island numerous times, but couldn’t name a single ride on the historic amusement strip (except for his parent’s beloved Parachute Jump).
“I’m not big on rides,” he said.
Weprin will likely replace Weiner, lovingly known as the Midwood Mouth for his entertaining rants on the House floor, who resigned last month after admitting to sending lurid pictures of himself to at least six women throughout the country.
Gov. Cuomo’s call for a special election on Sept. 13 to replace Weiner left no time for a primary, so local Democratic and Republican party heads chose the candidates.
Insiders say Weprin will resonate with the district’s voting base.
“This is a very middle of the road district,” explained Democratic District Leader Frank Seddio (D–Marine Park). “It holds a huge amount of moderate Democrats.”
Seddio said a handful of Brooklyn candidates were in the running to replace Weiner in a seat that is likely to disappear when redistricting takes place next year — when the latest census demands New York State lose two members of Congress.
“[Former Councilman] Herb Berman would have been a good person to fill in, especially as a place holder,” Seddio said. “But it was felt that we needed someone a little younger and someone who had a lot of experience in government and David has that.”
Seddio said that former Brooklyn District Attorney and Congresswoman Elzabeth Holtzman was also mentioned as a possible replacement, but she would have been too liberal for the district.
“She may not have met our voters tastes,” Seddio said.
Since 70 percent of Weiner’s district is in Queens, that borough’s democratic leaders held more sway in choosing the embattled pol’s replacement, Seddio explained.
“It was a weighted thing, but the [Queens democratic leadership] made sure that we had input and that our input was respected,” he said.
Yet Weprin had always been Lopez’s choice.
“I’ve known [Weprin] for 30 years,” Lopez said. “He was the only candidate that I conveyed my support for and I was pleased when I got the call that he was going to be the choice. It was a weighted vote, but I’m glad they were respectful of my choice.”
But many were given no choice — and now they’re stuck with Weprin.
“[The way in which Weprin was picked] is profoundly flawed and undemocratic,” said insurgent Democratic District Leader Lincoln Restler (D–Williamsburg) “But that being said, I am enthusiastically supporting the Democratic nominee.”
Weprin comes from a family of politcos, including his father, Saul, who was Assembly Speaker from 1991 to 1994, and his brother Mark, who is a councilman.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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