With Democrats stepping up their calls for scandal-plagued Rep. Anthony Weiner to step down, talk about his possible successor is already well under way back in New York.
Among the Democratic names circulating are City Councilman Mark Weprin, former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz and former City Councilman Eric Gioia. Possible GOP candidates include City Councilman Eric Ulrich and Bob Turner, an investor who ran against Weiner last year.
“I think it’s a widespread conversation,” said Joe Mercurio, a longtime New York-based Democratic consultant. “This could have been something he survived, but the way he has handled it has made it very difficult.”
Speaking to reporters at a tearful press conference on Monday, Weiner pledged not to resign, and has stuck by that since.
But if he did vacate the seat, Democrats would be the clear favorites in a special election for the seat, which includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
No Democrat has come forward to say he or she would run for Weiner’s seat, party officials explained, out of a desire not to be seen as upstaging a veteran lawmaker who, prior to the recent revelations, was seen as a rising star in the party.
“I think that anyone who is running or trying to push him out are going to disqualify themselves,” said Assemblyman Rory Lancman. Any candidate who announced a run before Weiner were to resign risked appearing “unseemly,” he said.
Democratic officials in Washington said they had not yet begun reaching out to potential Weiner successors.
Weprin, who lives in Rep. Gary Ackerman’s district, acknowledged that a possible candidacy had arisen in private conversations. He would not say more than that for the time being, he had no intention of launching a bid. He also said he had spoken with Weiner over the course of the last few days and believed the congressman would tough it out.
“I think he could survive this,” said Weprin. “I know Anthony says he’s staying.”
As for his own interest in the seat, Weprin said only: “It’s a parlor game people play.”
Several sources said several supporters of Katz, who lost a 1998 primary against Weiner, have urged her to consider running if he resigns.
Gioia, who lives in Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s district, did not return a request for comment.
Ulrich, who is 26 years old and was elected to the City Council in 2009, said he planned to take “a serious look” at the race. But, he said, “I don’t think we want to put the cart before the horse. He hasn’t resigned yet.”
Should a special election take place, local party leaders would pick the nominees in a closed process.
Party officials said Rep. Joe Crowley, a seven-term congressman who heads the Queens Democratic Party, would hold wide sway in picking a candidate, effectively determining the nominee along with the Brooklyn Democratic leader, Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
“Joe Crowley gets to pick whoever he wants in the state of New York to be next congressman in a special election,” said one insider.
Crowley did not return a request for comment.
If it happens, a special election wouldn’t be the last change coming for the district. With New York set to lose two seats in reapportionment, Weiner’s district is now being looked at as a target for elimination.