Republican wins Democratic district in N.Y. race to replace Weiner
September 14th, 2011
02:56 AM ET
12 years ago

Republican wins Democratic district in N.Y. race to replace Weiner

(CNN) - Republican Bob Turner on Tuesday won the special election in New York's heavily Democratic ninth congressional district - pulling a huge upset that few would have predicted just months ago.

Turner ran against Democrat David Weprin in a heated, summer-long race that ignited Democratic fears of a quiet election morphing into a referendum on the party and President Barack Obama, ahead of next year's elections.

"We've asked the people of this district to send a message to Washington, and I hope they hear it loud and clear," Turner said at his election party in Queens with a packed room, many of them Orthodox Jews.

"Mr. President, you are on the wrong track."

Turner came in with 54% of the vote while Weprin placed second at 46%, with 100% precincts reporting, according to unofficial results from Valerie Vazquez, communications director for the New York City Board of Elections.

Fittingly, in a race largely centered on U.S. policies toward Israel, Turner stood on a stage with Israeli and American flags behind him.

"We lit one candle today, and there's going to be a bonfire pretty soon," Turner said in his victory speech just after midnight.

The district, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is one of the strongest Jewish districts in the nation. Former Rep. Anthony Weiner vacated the seat in June amid scandal.

Turner, a former cable TV executive, made his first attempt in politics when he challenged Weiner for the seat in November and finished with a stronger-than-usual second place outcome, winning 40% of the vote.

His team hit a major turning point this summer when former New York City Mayor Ed Koch crossed party lines to endorse the Republican.

Koch, a Democratic Jew, hoped his support would send a message to the White House that Jewish Americans were dissatisfied with Obama's policies on Israel - namely the president's position that a future Mideast peace solution requires Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders, with land swaps.

"I like President Obama ... I helped get him elected," Koch said at Turner's election night party. "But he threw Israel under the bus."

His remarks were met by cheers from the crowd, including one man who shouted, "He's a sellout!"

Koch's nod pivoted the race into a relentless competition over who was a stronger supporter of Israel: Turner, a conservative Republican, or Weprin, an orthodox Jew.

Minutes after the election, the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement in support of Turner.

"Jewish voters are coming to see that Republicans offer real solutions to our economic crisis, are resolute friends of Israel, and represent a way forward to a better future," said executive director Matt Brooks.

He added that the election has "huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

Back in Washington and in a sign of uncertainty, both parties downplayed expectations earlier Tuesday.

"This is not a district that Republicans have any right to believe that we can win, but we do have a good candidate," said House Speaker John Boehner.

And despite having a 3-to-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans and a long history of Democratic elected officials, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York downplayed the district's strong tilt toward the left.

"President Obama won the district by much less than he won the rest of New York City," Schumer said.

"And so, to make the argument that this is a very liberal district and it's a close race, it's just not what the district has been."

Facing a last minute crunch, national Democratic groups poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad buys within the last week, signaling Democratic concerns the race was heading for a neck-and-neck sprint to the finish line.

The final push came as a new Siena Research Institute poll Friday showed Turner with a 6-percentage point lead over Weprin just days before the election.

In addition to Israel, other issues took the spotlight this summer, notably the two candidates' positions on raising the debt ceiling and political issues surrounding the September 11 attacks.

But all ended well for Turner on Tuesday, winning a campaign that now makes him one of two Republican Congressional members in the New York City delegation, with the other being Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island.

And while Turner will soon be staking out a new office on Capitol Hill, he may not be there for long.

Due to population loss, New York has to cut two congressional districts and NY9 has widely been speculated to get the ax in a redistricting process set to finalize in 2013.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Paul Courson contributed to this report.

Filed under: Anthony Weiner • New York • President Obama
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Islamaphobia wins again

    September 14, 2011 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  2. TEA PARTY Mike

    Another stunning loss for Democrats. Scott Brown winning Kennedy's old seat, Chris Christie wins in NJ, the 2010 election that dethroned Pelosi, and now this. But despite all of these elections and despite what all the polls show, Obama and the Democrats will not admit that voters have rejected their progressive policies. Obama spent over a trillion dollars to jump start the economy and create jobs and promised results that were not realized. Obamacare was not and is not wanted by a majority of voters. Obama has no success to run on. He will run a campaign blaming others for his failures and claiming that the other guy is worse than he is. When that is all you got, all the other guy has to do is convince a small majority of voters that he might be capable. A majority of voters will vote for someone who they believe might be capable over someone who has proved he is not.

    September 14, 2011 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  3. Peikovian

    Ordinarily these guys would vote for Farrakhan if the Democrats told them to do it. This election is big news.

    September 14, 2011 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  4. TEA PARTY Mike

    I am surprised by this Republican win in such a strong Democrat district. But this shows just how little Obama and the Democrats have to run on. Obama who said he was going to unite the country has lost the independents, apparently lost the Jewish community, convinced the private business sector he is anti-business, and generated a spending spree spark that lite the TEA Party fire. Obama and the progressive Democrats are in denial that it is because of their policies and ideology. So since they have nothing to sell that a majority of voters are going to buy, they are going to run a mud slinging attack campaign. I predict the Obama campaign will be so over the top dirty, that even Blue Dog Democrats will be turned of and will become the 2012 version of Regan Democrats and vote Republican.

    September 14, 2011 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  5. San Jose, CA

    I bet the Dems are in a state of panic . They're hate mongering and race bashing fears they feed us .
    "repubs only have an agenda of exclusivity [white]"

    People of many backgrounds gave a firm rebuke to the Obama regime and the Elite left's rukus they have brought. Turning us into the most divided nation ever.

    The Democratic fear tactics of ,"the republicans will take away your right to choose, take away affirmative action policies, and retirement/insurances benefits"
    will no longer be viable campaigning slogans.

    That is all these Neo Dems have ever done. Frighten us . No ideas but spend spend scare scare.
    NOT going to be feasible for the left this time .
    Weve seen it before.

    From the liberal California San Francisco bay Area,
    I thank you for giving us hope that we can get our country back.

    September 14, 2011 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  6. A True Centrist

    This should be a huge wakeup call for the Democratic party. The country turned to you after the fiasco that was the Bush years and you have failed us miserably. This is a district where registered Dems outnumber registered Republicans 3-1. This is a district that Al Gore won with 67% of the vote and Obama won by 10 points with 55%. This is a race that saw the likes of Bill Clinton and Chuck Schumer campaigning for Weprin and he still lost. Wasserman Schultz can try to spin this any way she likes, but any political observer knows that this is a message vote and it's not a pretty one for the Dems.

    September 14, 2011 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  7. 100% ETH

    Unfortunately, the tendencies of the voters are weigh into Republican, which is the coming back Party ready to win in 2012.

    Weather you think I am right or wrong, during the uprising of Muslims around the World in 2008, Americans elected Obama just to convinced and to ease tensions of Muslims Mentalities. Obama himself knows this.

    September 14, 2011 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  8. Marie MD

    What' wrong with NY!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
    Please don't become the sc of the NE!!

    September 14, 2011 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  9. November 2010

    Spin this one demos. But wait until your heads stop spinning. You have a lot of work ahead of you before November 2012, no? I guess you're strategy of name calling is paying off.

    September 14, 2011 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  10. Little Jimmy Truth

    Great job!!!

    September 14, 2011 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  11. BB

    !!!! music to the ears

    September 14, 2011 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  12. Rick in OP

    Obama is toast.

    September 14, 2011 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  13. ST

    How old is this man? What about getting young blood who comes with fresh ideas!

    September 14, 2011 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  14. FM

    Nothing to rejoice here as the man won't be there long. The district is set to be redistricted no longer than 2013.

    September 14, 2011 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  15. Jules

    I think this was a vote against Weiner and the guys that brought him to the dance.

    September 14, 2011 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  16. Massachusetts Conservative

    It will be interesting to see the spin democrats put on this story today. This is a district where registered democrats outnumber republicans by a 3:1 margin. If this isn't a direct referendum on the Obama Whitehouse and its' leadership (or lack there of) on job creation. I don't know what is.

    September 14, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |