2012-02-10 / Top Stories

Lancman To Seek Turner’s Congressional Seat

By Howard Schwach

The conventional wisdom since Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace and Republican Bob Turner won the seat in a special election has been that the 9th Congressional District was a goner in the upcoming reapportionment.

Now, however, with an upstate Democrat retiring and with a Democratic belief that they can take the seat back from Turner and the Republicans, several prominent Democrats are taking a second look at running in the upcoming election.

The first to announce is Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who announced on Tuesday that he will challenge Turner in the upcoming November election.

The decision by Lancman, a lawyer by training who is known as an aggressive campaigner, underscores the growing belief that Turner’s seat, which covers Brooklyn and Queens (including the west end of Rockaway), will not be eliminated in redistricting, even though state legislative leaders and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo are still squabbling over where to draw Congressional lines.

The Congressional primary, which was recently scheduled for June, is just four months away now that the federal courts have ruled that absentee ballots for service members must be sent out at least 45 days prior to the November 6 election.

Turner’s seat is a predominantly white and heavily Jewish area stretching from the Rockaways to Forest Hills. The seat was held for more than six terms by Weiner before he was forced to resign in June after his admission that he had sent sexually explicit messages to women he met online.

Many locals believe that Turner, a retired cable TV executive, capitalized on voter anger at President Obama and concern over the administration’s Israel policy, defeating Assemblyman David I. Weprin. Conventional political wisdom held that Turner’s stint would be brief because legislators, who need to reduce New York State’s number of Congressional seats by two, would eliminate the seat, as well as another upstate.

But the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, recently indicated that he was inclined to keep the seat, because he believed Turner could be beaten, and because Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, a 10-term Democrat from the mid-Hudson Valley, announced last month that he would retire.

Lancman, 42, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2006, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday announcing the formation of a Congressional exploratory committee. He said he had already raised $130,000.

The New York Times recently reported that neither Lancman nor Turner is expected to face a primary in June, thereby enabling them to focus their efforts on the November general election.

Asked by the Times about Lancman’s candidacy, a spokesman for Turner’s campaign, called Lancman “another clubhouse politician” who, he said, was essentially chosen by Queens Democratic power brokers.

Lachman was upbeat about his run.

“If I have the opportunity to run, my campaign is going to be about expanding economic opportunity, restoring fairness to our financial system.”

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