Even If Rep Anthony Weiner Keeps Voter Support, His District Could Be Eliminated Poll shows many voters still on Anthony Weiner's side, despite the congressman's lewd tweeting. But New York state will lose two districts, and the controversy makes it a good bet his will be one of them.
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Weiner Has Backing, But District Might Leave Him

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Weiner Has Backing, But District Might Leave Him

Weiner Has Backing, But District Might Leave Him

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This is All Things Considered from NPR News, I'm Melissa Block.

Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner has few friends here in Washington these days, but he may be safer in his district in New York. A new poll shows a majority of his constituents in Brooklyn and Queens want him to stay in office. That's despite the lewd photos and texts he sent to young women and the fact that he lied about it before confessing.

NPR's Joel Rose headed to Weiner's district and sent us this story on his political future.

JOEL ROSE: Anthony Weiner has said all week that he won't resign from Congress, despite calls to do so from both sides of the aisle. On a busy corner in Forest Hills, a middle-class neighborhood in Queens, it's still easy to find support for the embattled Congressman.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER JUSINO: I don't think he should resign, no. Bunch of senators and congressmen, they all got skeletons in the closet. And he made a mistake. You know, he shouldn't be crucified for that.

ROSE: That was Christopher Jusino of Kew Gardens. Edward Levine of Forest Hills agrees.

Mr. EDWARD LEVINE: Maybe he should get a little help, but I still would vote for him.

ROSE: A New York 1 Marist poll released last night found that 56 percent of Weiner's constituents think he should not resign. But even in this overwhelmingly Democratic district, there are those who've seen enough. Hugh Strauss and Francis Berland think Weiner should step down.

Mr. HUGH STRAUSS: I don't care about Anthony Weiner. I care about an effective congressman, okay? And I care about beating the Republicans. I think he's lost his credibility, and I think he's a distraction.

Ms. FRANCIS BERLAND: Those who live in tin houses should not be throwing can openers. And I think he has a certain arrogance. And he's the first to throw that can opener. And due to that, I can no longer support him.

ROSE: The same poll found constituents divided over whether they would vote for Weiner in 2012, with a full 38 percent undecided. That describes Fran Sheldon of Forest Hills.

Ms. FRANCIS SHELDON: That's a tough question. I don't know. What he does in his private life is his own business, but the fact they covered it up didn't sit well.

ROSE: But even if Weiner's constituents continue to support him, it's not clear if he'll have a district to run in. New York State is slated to lose two congressional seats before the 2012 election. By tradition, one of those seats would come from Republican strongholds upstate and one from heavily Democratic New York City. Michael Krasner teaches political science at Queens College.

Mr. MICHAEL KRASNER (Queens College): Before this episode, I think you could have said he was quite safe. Now it's very easy for them to eliminate his district entirely and make it nearly impossible for him to run.

ROSE: Krasner says dividing up Weiner's district would help New York's Democratic leaders in two ways. It would get rid of a political liability and it would mean that no other congressman has to lose a district. Party leaders in the district haven't said much in public about Weiner or what might happen to his seat, but longtime Democratic consultant George Arzt says you can be sure they're thinking about it.

Mr. GEORGE ARZT (Democratic consultant): People haven't decided yet what's going to happen but, you know, they're looking at the maps. This would help everyone just to lose the seat.

ROSE: It would especially help the adjacent Congressmen, says Michael Krasner at Queens College.

Mr. KRASNER: It's prime Democratic territory, very reliable Democratic voters. Any Democratic congressman would be happy to have them as his constituents.

ROSE: At this point, consultant George Arzt says he'd be surprised if Weiner's district survives in its current shape.

Mr. ARZT: Seems unlikely, but so did these events of the last few days.

ROSE: Besides being a popular congressman, Anthony Weiner was also considered a strong candidate for mayor in 2013. His fall from grace has shaken up that race as well.

Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

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