Weiner Resigns…Now What?

Departing Congressman leaves a complicated political landscape in his wake.

When Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-Brooklyn-Queens, announced his resignation Thursday afternoon, he left a once-promising political career in shambles.

Weiner also left an open congressional seat, as well as plenty of question marks in regards to a potential successor.

Among those in contention on the Democratic side for Weiner’s seat include Councilman Mark Weprin, D-Oakland Gardens, former Forest Hills Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Rory Lancman, D-Fresh Meadows, according to veteran city political insider George Arzt.

Weprin, the son of former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin and brother of former Councilman and current Assemblyman David Weprin, comes from a well-known Queens political family. Lancman, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer—a fresh face who has made his mark on a number of issues in the Assembly.

According to Arzt, Katz’s potential advantage was one of symbolism, with the longtime representative emerging as a possible choice to succeed a disgraced Congressman accused of improper relations with young women.

“Everyone knows all three candidates and all of them have different strengths,” Arzt said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 70 to 80 days to call special election to fill out the remainder of Weiner’s term.

During that period, Queens Democratic leader, Rep. Joseph Crowley, and his Brooklyn counterpart, Rep. Vito Lopez, will tap a candidate to run in the coming special election.

On the Republican side, two possible rivals emerged: Councilman Eric Ulrich, R-Ozone Park, and former Ninth District Congressional candidate Bob Turner.

With his greater name recognition, Ulrich would be the probable first choice by GOP leaders in Brooklyn and Queens, according to Arzt.

An Ulrich representative declined to comment on a possible run.

"He hasn’t stepped down yet. If he does, we have a process and we’ll go forward. We’ll be screening candidates and will definitely have a candidate running,” said Phil Ragusa, chairman of the Queens Republican Party, reached before Thursday’s announcement by Weiner that he would step down.

Weiner’s resignation also had other consequences in regards to the future of the Ninth District itself.

As a result of the 2010 Census, New York stands to lose two representatives from Congress, with the most likely scenario involving one GOP district upstate and one Democratic district downstate absorbed by surrounding districts.

And with Weiner out, the chances of his district being divided up by adjacent constituencies are that much greater, Arzt said.

That would mean the candidate elected to replace Weiner might have a short tenure in the U.S. House.

“There are a lot of elected officials that would have to give up their seats,” he said, speaking of possible contenders like Weprin and Ulrich. “But being a congressman is an honor, even if you only have a seat for a year.”

Reached earlier this week before Thursday’s press conference, Weprin commented on his possible candidacy to replace Weiner.

“There is no opening and I don’t like to deal with hypothetical issues,” Weprin said. “But obviously anytime there is an open Congressional seat, you have to take a look at it.”

Nathan Duke and Matthew Hampton contributed reporting to this story.

Owen June 17, 2011 at 11:43 AM
Debra July 26, 2011 at 02:59 PM
I thought he was an excellent Congressman. He was not like very well because he was verbally passionate and others didn't like that. But he was good for the community. Very sad that he did what he did. He ruined a wonderful career in politics (would have loved to see him as mayor) and hopefully he did not ruin his marriage. But it's difficult for a wife to go through what she is going through and stay with her husband. If he's doing this after being married a short time, imagine what he would do when the "seven year itch" came around. Sorry to see you go Mr. Weiner....I liked you very much.


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