Hecklers Dominate Queens Debate


According to reports, the first debate between the two men vying for Anthony Weiner's vacated Ninth Congressional District seat was quite difficult to hear. Around 400 very engaged citizens attended the Monday-night event, which pitted retired TV executive Bob Turner, a Republican, against Democratic assemblyman David Weprin. Says the Times:

After each candidate spoke, dozens of people, gathered in the basement hall of a synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, cheered. Others tried to drown them out with angry boos.

So it went at a forum between Mr. Turner and Mr. Weprin, who are running ... in a race that seemed sleepy at first but has turned increasingly feisty. And, befitting the escalating tensions, the event amounted to as much to an exercise in heckling as a dialogue between candidates.

Organizers "struggled" to keep the audience under control as Weprin called Turner a tea partier, while Turner attacked "Obamacare" and the Muslim community center at ground zero. There was a lot of talk about countrywide issues and little discussion of local ones, suggesting that the surprisingly competitive contest — an "indicator of deep consternation about [President] Obama" in the Democratic district — had become mostly a reflection of the national political mood.

More forums are planned for the lead-up to the September 13 special election, which gives Turner and Weprin plenty of time to cover the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods they're seeking to represent. But really, is a population accustomed to the nonstop action of the Weiner scandal still going to be interested in chatting about nitty-gritty details of the outer boroughs? Clearly, these people want drama.

Amid Heckling, Candidates in Queens Discuss Spending [NYT]