Hurricane Irene may not have left quite the swath of destruction expected, but it’s inflicted at least one political injury. David Weprin, Democratic candidate for New York’s Ninth congressional district, has cancelled the planned debate tonight with Republican Bob Turner. A statement by Weprin’s campaign cited “major logistical and scheduling problems.”
Two other explanations have been proffered, however. A spokesman for Turner’s campaign, William O’Reilly, called this reasoning “ludicrous” (the roads in Queens are completely clear) and said the cancellation is “clearly a reaction to the bumbling of the debt question” — a reference to Weprin’s recent embarrassing response to a question from the New York Daily News about the federal debt, stating he believed the amount was “about 4 trillion” (the actual figure is closer to $14 trillion).
A second explanation comes from Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, host of the debate. According to Holden, Weprin’s campaign began voicing concerns about the debate last week, worried about an unruly event like the one on Aug. 22 when the candidates debated in Kew Gardens.
The explanation is less important than the inevitable consequences of Weprin’s cancellation: Holden, a self-described “prime Democrat voter,” says that the decision “is going to backfire for Weprin big time.”
One cannot help but recall Massachusetts’s special election last year, in which Democrat Martha Coakley lost another easy race with a tone-deaf campaign – refusing, for instance, to shake hands with voters outside Fenway Park.