Washington (CNN) - House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer Wednesday said the Republican upset in the special election in New York shows voters are anxious about the economy, but he downplayed any fallout for President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats.
"I think it was an opportunity for people just to say I'm not happy and this is how I'm going to reflect it," Hoyer told CNN about GOP candidate Bob Turner's win over Democrat Dave Weprin.
But New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who celebrated the win with Turner Tuesday night, predicted Democrats on the Hill would immediately distance themselves from the president.
"I think it's going to be harder for Democrats to stand with the president on controversial votes," King said.
But Hoyer dismissed that assertion, saying "I think Democrats will stand with the president where they agree with him and they will bring up their alternative views when they don't." And the number two House Democrat also pointed out that Republicans have shifted their own tone, signaling they are open to compromise on the president's jobs plan, after hearing concerns from voters after the summer recess.
King credited former Democratic New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who supported the GOP candidate, for making the Obama's administration position on Israel a central issue in the special election. Hoyer also agreed Koch played a key role.
"His [the president's] policy is weak – Ed Koch exposed the policy for what it was," King said.
All the apologists will be out in full force, making excuses for this loss. I heard a few people say that people are happy with obama but unhappy with congress that says that GOP is at fault for the gridlock, so how come the keep electing republican's.
@ as GM – Hey dip stick, GM is alive and well, thanks to President Obama and the Unions! No thanks to the worthless party of "Hell no!' who now wants respect.
Actually I think the message being sent was "Don't take us for granted - give us strong candidates or we will vote for the other party or just stay home." Turnout was something like 50% of a Presidential election year. There seems to be near universal agreement that Weprin was a lousy candidate, besides representing the same-old-same-old, business-as-usual branch of the local Democratic organization. And lots of people still seem to be mad about Weiner, either at him for being a jerk or the Democrats for supposedly forcing him out.
We'll see about Turner. If he's just another party-line Republican then I think NY9 will quickly have cause to regret its choice. If he's a Republican who chooses to represent his *whole* district then the Tea Partiers might have their own second thoughts about crowing over his victory. A Republican who can see two sides of an issue and work out mutually agreeable ways to get things done would be a nice change in the House.