- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2011

Despite Rep. Anthony Weiner’s embarrassing resignation Thursday from Congress, Democrats should easily retain control of his New York City seat, figures in both parties say.

“That’s a huge hurdle. It comes as close to insurmountable as its gets,” said a key senior Republican aide when asked about his party’s chances of winning the district.

“It’s a solid democratic seat — you can’t get around that fact.”

Democrats hold a 130,000 voter registration advantage over Republicans in New York’s 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of southern Brooklyn and south central Queens.

The district hasn’t elected a Republican since the 1920s.

Yet by New York standards, the district is considered one of the least Democratic strongholds in the city and has been trending slightly toward the GOP in recent years. While President Obama captured the district in 2008 with a health 55 percent of the vote, his winning margin pales in comparison to the nearby 8th District, which Mr. Obama won with 74 percent, or Harlem’s 15th District, which he captured with 93 percent.

Mr. Weiner was re-elected to office last November with 57 percent of the vote, with Republican challenger Robert Turner earning 37 percent.

The district consist primarily of middle-class white neighborhoods and is 71 percent non-Hispanic white, 15 percent Asian, 14 percent Hispanic and 4 percent black. Conservative Russians also have been migrating to the district in recent years.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said that, despite Mr. Weiner’s embarrassing actions, he thinks it would be difficult — but “not beyond the realm of possibility” — for a Republican to win the seat.

“It’s a Democratic district that has been trending Republican, but it would take some extraordinary circumstances” for a Republican to capture the seat, he told reporters at the Capitol Thursday.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the seat to coincide either with September’s primary or November’s general election for minor borough offices.

It would be the state’s second special election this year for a House seat. GOPRep. Chris Lee resigned his 26th District seat in February after a shirtless photo of the married congressman was sent to a woman through Craigslist.

The GOP aide said that, despite the district’s minor GOP tendencies, overall it’s still a formidable Democratic juggernaut.

“You can say this is the least Democratic stronghold in New York City, but it’s still all solid (Democratic) bricks,” the aide said.

There is also a chance the 9th District could be eviscerated through redistricting. New York state will lose two congressional districts in time for the 2012 elections, and one of them is expected to come from the New York City area.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@washingtontimes.com.

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