David Weprin for NY-9

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Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Democratic candidate David Weprin discusses his campaign to replace Anthony Weiner for the congressional seat representing NY-9 and what he would do if elected to Congress.

(Related: Hear Brian's interview with Republican candidate Bob Turner here.)

The bitter debt ceiling showdown might get an early test in Brooklyn and Queens during the special election this September to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Anthony Weiner.

The two major issues in the race thus far have been the debt limit and Israel, with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch crossing party lines to support Republican Bob Turner, in order, he says, to send a message to the president that he opposes the administration’s policies. Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin, an orthodox Jew, for his part won the endorsement of Senator Joe Lieberman.

Weprin lives in Holliswood, Queens, which does not appear to be part of District Nine. He says he lived in the Fresh Meadows Holliswood area his entire life. Fresh Meadows is part of District Nine.

Regarding Koch's endorsement, Weprin said the difference between his and Turner's policy on Israel is minimal.

I think we have to be careful about asking Israel to make concessions that we’re not asking of the Palestinian Authority. Obviously, while there is aid to the Palestinian Authority certain support for recognition of the state of Israel is important but.. I don’t think we differ too much for our strength for the state of Israel. But I think we have to really talk about the other issues where there’s really a major difference.

The Assemblyman was more moderate in his response to whether aid for the Palestinians should be cut until the Palestinian Authority does more to stop rocket fire:

I think we should tie military aid to preventing terrorism and basically making concessions that go with that such as recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and  not negotiate with terrorists and obviously with Hamas as part of the negotiating authority, I would question some of the aid we may be giving but I think we have to really see what comes out of the Palestinian Authority, who’s in charge, and who are they negotiating with.

Weprin did say he would have voted with the majority in the House to cut of aid to Palestine if they pursue recognition through the United Nations.

Regarding the debt ceiling vote, Weprin expressed displeasure at the recent deal.

I would not have voted for it, because clearly something had to be done with the debt ceiling but this was not the best alternative. They waited too long to negotiate the deal, it really should have been negotiated weeks and weeks before, and the severe cuts that are going to take place with this agreement particularly potentially to Medicare, certainly to Medicare reimbursement, and the additional cuts could be directly on Medicare and Social Security are going to be very devastating to New York in particular.

He believes he and Bob Turner are in opposition in this regard.

He indicated that he would’ve voted for the bill, he also ruled out any form of taxation, which could result in significant cuts in the trillions of dollars if there is no revenue portion, I feel there’s room for taxation on oil companies, closing corporate loopholes, specifically companies that export jobs over seas can be taxed And I think there is room for a real millionaires tax.

On entitlement reform Weprin said he and Turner are “very different.”

[Turner’s position] is a newfound position based on trying to get Koch’s endorsement. He has said publicly on many occasions that he is a strong supporter of the Ryan plan when he ran last November against Anthony Weiner. So this is a total turn-around.

I’ve been very clear on opposing president Obama on a number of issues, starting with the pre-1967 borders as a starting point for peace negotiations.

Weprin voted for gay marriage, but recently came under fire for questioning the legitimacy of the vote.

I supported the same-sex marriage bill in Albany, it had passed in the assembly three ties before… it was a civil issue, we basically just authorized civil marriage, it wasn’t a religious issue.

He was not yet ready to agree with Eric Schneiderman that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, however, saying he would wait to see how that plays out. 

And is Weprin concerned about Turner’s forty percent of the vote against Weiner's sixty in the last election for the seat?

Where I come from, sixty-forty is a pretty significant victory, so I’d be very happy to get sixty percent.


The Lightning Round:

On Turner’s allegations that as chairman of the City Council finance committee, Weprin was either complicit or ignorant of the slush-fund abuse:

Ridiculous. I chaired the Finance Committee for eight years, we had eight years of balanced budgets, on-time, never a day late, without cutting major services. I’d love to see some of that in Washington.

On what percentage of his district is currently without health insurance:

Still a large percentage… I don’t necessarily want to cite a statistic, there are just too many American and too many constituents.. that don’t have health insurance.

The poverty rate in CD-9:

Probably higher than it should be? I couldn’t tell you off hand.

Whether global warming is man-made and real:

Clearly there is something to be said for global warming, certainly this summer looks like it’s coming to fruition.

On cap and trade:

I support certain aspects of cap and trade.

Percentage of his district that is foreign-born:

I would say, as with all of Queens, we have a very large percentage of immigrants from many many parts... probably 30 percent.

On immigration reform with a path to citizenship for people here illegally:

I support comprehensive insurance [sic] reform, I support the DREAM act.

On tweeting:

I’ve never tweeted.. I think my campaign at one point had a Twitter thing, but someone had done it on behalf of the campaign, I never personally tweeted.

If he’s ever voted for a Republican:

Not that I can recall.