David I. Weprin, the Democratic Party’s candidate to fill Rep. Anthony Weiner’s now vacant seat, is supposed to be interested in the position because his political career stalled out in the state assembly. The NY-9 seat could very well be redistricted out of existence, but before it’s gone, Weprin could use it to vault himself out of anonymous ranks of junior assemblymen and into the hearts of enough New Yorkers to make him a successful candidate for city-wide office — perhaps the comptroller seat he ran for, unsuccessfully, once before.
State Room examined Weprin’s 2011 record in the assembly and found that, like any rank-and-file lawmaker, the bills he introduced were many and the bills that went anywhere were few. One bill that’s passed through both the assembly and the senate and is waiting for additional assembly action reveals the parochial concerns of a state lawmaker: a law that went into effect in 2006 required that certain property in Queens pass to the parks department within one year; Weprin’s bill extends that deadline to “within nine years.”
As city councilman and as an assemblyman, Weprin has worked on decreasing gun violence, including a bill of his that extends the definition of “criminal possession a weapon in the fourth degree.” In current law, a person convicted of a felony or a serious offense who possesses a rifle or shotgun is guilty of that crime; under Weprin’s bill, convicted felons or serious offenders would also be guilty of the fourth degree of criminal possession if they had an “antique firearm, black powder rifle, black powder shotgun, or any muzzle-loading firegun.”As an assemblyman, he has also pushed to outlaw smoking in cars or trucks carrying a passenger less than 14 years old.
Weprin did sponsor one bill that made it to Gov. Cuomo’s desk. It was a measure introduced at the request of the state’s insurance department (Weprin serves on the assembly’s insurance committee), and it amended the definition of insurance fraud. As far as State Room can tell, the amendments include tiny grammatical changes that including adding “or she” to one clause previously referring only to “he” and substituting letters for the lower case Roman numerals organizing the statute’s subclauses. Oh, snap!
A freshman congressperson likely doomed to be redistricted out of power, Weprin would not have the clout to turn out much more exciting legislation at the federal level. But he’ll benefit from the unusual amount of news coverage of the NY-9 election. The Democratic Party doesn’t need a person in that seat who will draw attention to himself and try to make a name for himself in the House of Representatives. They’ve had enough of that. As if to calm nerves further, Weprin has mentioned in his first round of press that he does not use Twitter. That’s not entirely accurate: he or his campaign staff set up an account in his name during his 2009 race for comptroller. Sample tweets: “Statement from Corey Bearak, Weprin for Assembly Campaign Manager”; “Thank you everyone who worked, volunteered and supported the effort that culminated in the good results last night. I am most appreciative.” It’s not particularly scintillating stuff — thank goodness.