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As Rep. Weiner Digs In, Potential Challengers Eye Seat

 

As Rep. Anthony Weiner clings to power amid internal pressure to step down, a handful of potential candidates are taking a serious look at challenging him for his seat next year. 

So far, the names in the hat are mostly on the other side of the aisle. And in Weiner's Democrat-heavy Brooklyn-Queens district, any Republican who runs is automatically a long shot. 

But a Democratic challenger is not out of the question, and Republicans may see an opportunity to defy history. 

Bob Turner, a Republican who pulled in 41 percent of the vote against Weiner in the 2010 election, told Fox News after Weiner confessed to lying about a lewd photo he sent online that he's thinking about running in 2012. 

He amped up the rhetoric in a subsequent column for the National Review, noting the climate in the district is "very favorable for a repeat run." Turner said that's not why he'd consider it, but made clear he's interested. 

"It's time to oust the remaining dead-weight from the House -- and bring the change America so desperately needs," Turner wrote. 

Other Republicans are also keeping their names in the mix. Andrew Sullivan, a New York construction worker and activist who protested the so-called "Ground Zero mosque," told FoxNews.com he's considering a run, claiming he'd garner Tea Party support. 

And City Councilman Eric Ulrich, a 26-year-old pol first elected to his seat in 2009, is also said to be looking at Weiner's district. 

Should Weiner step down, the decision would likely open the floodgates for candidates on both sides -- that is, unless the seat is eliminated through redistricting. 

But one source told Fox News that Weiner means what he says when he says he's going back to work. Though several elected Democrats have called on Weiner to leave, a source close to the congressman said Weiner has been bolstered by expressions of support from constituents and new polling from Marist. The latest NY1-Marist Poll showed 56 percent of 9th Congressional District registered voters think he should not resign. Thirty-three percent said he should. 

On the Democratic side, former Councilman Eric Gioia reportedly has been approached about running. Gioia could not be reached for comment by FoxNews.com. 

Other promising Democratic candidates might hold back unless there's a special election.
City Councilman Mark Weprin, whose name had been floated in the press, told FoxNews.com that as long as Weiner's in, he's out. 

"I am not at the moment considering running. There's no opening. He says he's staying and I honestly believe he will stay in office until the end of his term, at least," Weprin told FoxNews.com. "I'm friends with Anthony Weiner, and I won't run against him in a primary." 

Asked whether he'd run in the event of a special election, Weprin said: "If there's ever an open seat in Congress, you have to consider it." 

Fox News' Doug McKelway contributed to this report.