The Campaign for Anthony Weiner's Old Seat Has Gotten Ugly

Republicans release ugly "Ground Zero Mosque" fliers

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Close campaigns have a tendency to become ugly campaigns. Ahead of tomorrow's special election, Republican Bob Turner looks poised to capture the vacant seat left by former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. The latest poll by Public Policy Polling has Turner leading Democrat David Weprin by a margin of 47-41. The unexpected GOP capture of a New York City seat is featuring some some slimy tactics. On Sunday, ThinkProgress's Tanya Somanader reported on a flier sent out by Turner's allies over the weekend taking advantage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11:

In anticipation of this somber day [the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks], the New York GOP sent out “a kitchen-sink mailer in the hotly-contested Queens congressional special election depicting a mosque superimposed over the scarred Ground Zero site on one side, and Democrat David Weprin alongside President Barack Obama on the other.”

The incendiary flier was sent out on behalf of Republican businessman Bob Turner who is seeking to take former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D) seat…. [T]he front of the flier features a gold-domed mosque rising out of the ruins of the World Trade Center site with a quote from Weprin stating “I support the right of the mosque to build.” The other side places Weprin next to Obama and reads “Weprin stands with Obama — and they stand together in support of the mosque at Ground Zero.”

Adding some helpful context to the attack ad, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen notes "The Park51 project isn’t a mosque and it’s not at Ground Zero. David Weprin and President Obama, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and plenty of Republicans, were talking about a community center in Lower Manhattan, spearheaded by a Bush administration ally."

Meanwhile, on Sunday itself, Politico's Ben Smith got ahold of a sealed document from Weprin's custody fight in 1986. He does not come out sounding good:

Justice Bruce Wright described Weprin as “heedless” of the welfare of his son, who was not yet two, and behaving in a manner that “shocks the conscience.” The judge also describes him “extremely temperamental with a short fuse” – a description backed by his “almost impossible to control” in the court-room. And the ruling describes Weprin’s behavior both as careless – he allegedly left the child with a doorman – and “obsessive”: Weprin allegedly “rushed into the toilet with the child and refused to allow [his ex-wife Roselyn] in or to come out, and [the ex-wife] was compelled to call the police before [Weprin] would exit, although the bathroom was said to be cold.”

Weprin's spokesman Elizabeth Kerr emailed a response condemning the leak:

Accessing court records about a child, possibly illegally, is the ultimate in dirty politics and shows how desperate Republican Bob Turner and his Tea Party allies are to distract from his plan to protect corporate tax loopholes while slashing Medicare and Social Security. Republican Bob Turner must order his staff and allies to stop engaging in these dirty tricks immediately. Voters deserve better.

Still, for all the late-campaign drama and antics, Weprin would not be in such an uphill fight for what's considered a safe Democratic seat if it weren't for President Obama's low approval rating and the stagnant economy.

Update: A reader points out that Democrats have also been tweaked for running misleading ads in the NY9 race. On Saturday, Politifact dressed down a recent Democratic attack ad, saying "a Democratic ad falsely claims Republican House candidate Bob Turner would cut Social Security benefits for seniors, something Turner says he would not do."

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