Weprin Cancels NY-9 Debate, Blames Irene


Gotham Gazette:

Democratic congressional candidate and State Assemblymember David Weprin has withdrawn from [yesterday's] scheduled debate with his GOP rival, Bob Turner. The two men are locked in a tough contest to succeed Anthony Weiner in the Ninth Congressional District in Brooklyn and Queens.

... Holden, though, was not accepting the hurricane as a reason for Weprin’s change in plans. “This stinks to high heaven,” Holden said.

He said the candidate’s people had been voicing concern about the debate for the past week, expressing fear it could get disorderly and pressing for a forum instead of an actual debate. Holden said he had promised that the debate would be well run – no placards allowed and some police on hand – but he added, “I can’t guarantee you’re not going to get tough questions.”

The cancellation “is going to backfire for Weprin big time, “Holden said. “Anybody who would do this would not be a straight shooter in Congress.”

The New York Times:

David I. Weprin, a Democrat in the State Assembly, pulled out of the event at the last minute, saying that Tropical Storm Irene, which had long since dissipated, had disrupted his schedule.

It was an eyebrow-raising explanation, especially given that his Republican opponent, Bob Turner, had been evacuated from his home in the Rockaways during the storm, yet still planned to make the debate.

... In a playful act of political theater, the Turner campaign dispatched a volunteer to drive the route between Mr. Weprin’s campaign headquarters and the debate site to demonstrate how little time it took (22 minutes “if one is willing to brave two turns and several traffic lights,” the campaign reported.)

... A civic association staff member wrote and published an article on the group’s Web site Monday assailing Mr. Weprin, who was selected as the Democratic nominee for Congress by local party leaders.

By bowing out of the debate, the article said, Mr. Weprin “was living up to his reputation as a career politician relying on appointments and back-door politics to survive in the complicated Ninth Congressional District.”