Allegations of spying in race to replace Weiner

Even among the most optimistic New York Republicans, (and yes, there are a few left) hopes were never very high that the GOP had much of a shot to take control of the 9th district seat formerly held by disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner. This is still New York City, after all. But against all expectations the race has been heating up in more ways than one. Republican Bob Turner’s campaign is now alleging that hand picked Democratic contender David Weprin has been sending spies into his organization.

It’s getting ugly!

Republicans are accusing Democratic congressional hopeful David Weprin of sending spies to “volunteer” for rival Bob Turner’s campaign as a new GOP poll found Turner has pulled even in the race for Anthony Weiner’s House seat.

Turner campaign spokesman William O’Reilly charged that Assemblyman Weprin “is sending young people into Turner campaign headquarters pretending to be volunteers or college reporters. We have caught four of them already.”

“Only a career politician scrambling to save his hide would sink to such a low.”

Weprin spokeswoman Liz Kerr said, “I don’t know anything about it.”

She declined further comment on the explosive accusation.

The poll they’ve been referencing has set plenty of tongues to wagging, showing a tie at 42% each. But to be fair, it’s an internal set of numbers so take that as you will. (I’ve ordered a couple of those myself in the past. They can be useful tools both in assessing the state of the race and as weapons in the media battle, but are generally not as predictive as a recognized national outfit.) Sienna had the Republican trailing by six last time they sampled the district, but that’s still fairly impressive in a region where Democrats hold a three to one registration advantage.

Meanwhile, Weprin has been doing a strange dance with the Obama administration. The Democrat has been accepting help from Obama for America in the form of ground troops getting out the vote and raising funds, while publicly distancing himself from the president and taking exception with his position on issues such as America’s support for Israel. (Or lack thereof.)

I think this race, as with so many other Empire State special elections, was destined to be strange from the outset. There wasn’t a primary, so once again we had local party bosses picking candidates rather than the voters. And when there’s not much else going on around the nation election-wise, outside forces with time and money to spend tend to jump into the fray. Fortunately, we won’t have too much longer to wait.