The GOP is eying New York Democrat Anthony Weiner’s seat with more optimism in the wake of the married congressman’s online sex scandal.
“We’re gonna keep our eye on it,” one knowledgeable D.C. Republican said. “If we’ve learned anything, these types of races can become competitive very quickly.”
Weiner has easily won re-election in past races in the ninth congressional district. President Obama won the district with 55 percent of the vote in 2008. But the thinking is that the scandal could change the dynamics in 2012.
Republicans are watching to see how two factors play out.
The first is whether a strong candidate emerges who already has money or the potential to raise it. The second is whether redistricting in New York ends up affecting Weiner’s seat to the advantage of Republicans.
“Those are two developments that would really make this a competitive race,” the Republican said.
Weiner held a press conference Monday to admit he has lied to the press over the last two weeks about whether he sent lewd photos to young women over the Internet. He said he has no intention of resigning.
Weiner’s district has been held by a Democrat since 1923, though it’s more conservative than the reliably liberal districts surrounding it.
“If the economy continues to stall, the right well-regarded Jewish, Italian or Irish fiscal conservative Republican could win in this 70 plus percent white district,” said New York political operative Michael Caputo.
Bob Turner, the Republican who lost to disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner last year, is considering running against him in 2012. Other possible Republicans include Eric Ulrich, a Republican member of the New York City Council, and New York State Judge Noach Dear, who has run for the seat before.
“One thing is for sure: the Democrat Medicare mantra won’t save a guy wearing recognizable underwear,” Caputo said.
Meanwhile, Ed Cox, the New York State Republican Party Chairman, has called on Weiner to resign.
“His actions are at best despicable and at worst illegal,” Cox said.