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Battle for Weiner's vacant House seat heats up

TurnerWeprin

TurnerWeprin Photo Credit: Bob Turner, Republican/David Weprin, Democrat

It’s a messy race -- complete with gaffes, gags and allegations of spying -- for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s congressional seat.

Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin have tried to focus on the economy and other weighty issues, although it’s taking more than stump speeches to get noticed in the Ninth Congressional District, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens. Voters go to the polls for the special election on Tuesday.

“It’s still a Democratic district ... and we’re doing everything we can to turn out the vote,” Weprin, a Queens state assemblyman, told amNewYork last week.

Turner, a retired media exec, said voters are tired of the status quo and that “this is a winnable election.”

The last major poll on Aug. 10 put Weprin ahead of Turner by just six percentage points, which positions the Republican within striking distance in a district that was held by Weiner, a Democrat, for seven terms.

The disgraced congressman resigned in June following the release of X-rated pics of himself he sent to women online.

In this race, Weprin, 55, counts Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer among his backers, while Turner, 70, earned a significant nod from a Democrat: former Mayor Ed Koch.

Meanwhile, the challengers have been on the offensive. Turner held a news conference last week underneath the national debt clock in midtown to remind his opponent the U.S. debt is about $14 trillion – which Weprin had mistakenly low-balled as $4 trillion in a roundtable interview with another newspaper.

During a Turner fundraiser in Belle Harbor, Weprin sent an illusionist named Wendy Wizard to “endorse” the Republican after The New York Times said Turner’s plan to slash the federal budget and lower taxes – without reducing Medicare and Social Security benefits – would “take a magican.”

To top it off, Turner’s campaign has accused Weprin of sending a mole to “volunteer” for them, which a Weprin spokeswoman denied.

Political consultant Joseph Mercurio said despite all the gimmicks, it will come down to votes. “It’s a tough district in a tough economy where people are angry and where turnout will be a problem,” he warned.

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