Pro-Israel Republican Bob Turner wins Weiner’s NY seat

By JORDANA HORN, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 15, 2011 01:29

Former cable television executive beat his Democratic opponent David Weprin in a special congressional election in New York.

3 minute read.



Bob Turner

Bob Turner 311. (photo credit:Courtesy)

NEW YORK – Former cable television executive Republican Bob Turner beat his Democratic opponent David Weprin in a special congressional election in New York Tuesday in what many called a referendum on US President Barack Obama’s administration on both fiscal and foreign policy issues.

The 9th Congressional District, composed of sections of Brooklyn and Queens, had a special election to replace the disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who stepped down from his position in June after a “sexting” scandal.

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The district, well known for being a Democratic stronghold, was captured by the Republicans after their successful efforts to reframe the race as being an opportunity to “send a message” to Washington – and to tap into Jewish discontent with the US president’s Middle East policies.

And while national Republicans immediately stated that Turner’s election was a shot across the bow in preparation for next year’s presidential race, others, including Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said the proverbial Jewish vote – particularly Orthodox Jews – in the district was too high, rendering this particular election unfit as a sample of what would come on a nationwide level.

“In this district, there is a large number of people who went to the polls tonight who didn’t support the president to begin with and don’t support Democrats – and it’s nothing more than that,” she told The New York Times.

While Weprin is an observant Jew and Israel supporter, Turner, a Roman Catholic, criticized Obama on his Israel stance at every opportunity.

In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post prior to the election, Turner vehemently underlined his unconditional support of the Jewish state, and his acknowledgment that that stance would be pivotal in the race.

“The Jewish vote will be decisive, and that vote, I believe, will be driven mostly by Israel,” Turner said.

In an e-mail to the Post after the election Republicans Abroad in Israel co-chairman Marc Zell wrote that such projections had proven correct, and said his organization played “a central role” in focusing the district’s Jewish voters on Middle East foreign policy in its preelection campaign efforts.

The organization had facilitated connections between Republican- American Israelis and voters in the district.

“Jewish voters in New York’s 9th Congressional District were able to see the issues as we here in Israel see them,” Zell said.

“It is no accident that US Jews vote overwhelmingly Republican after moving to Israel.

When a voter in a particular district hears a perspective on an issue from voters abroad, it is much more powerful than any mailer or phone call from a special interest or even public figure, as the voter understands that the perspective they are hearing is genuinely coming from a concerned voter – one who had to go through certain obstacles just to be engaged in the election and to have their voice heard.

“Voters recognize the sacrifice and commitment of voters from abroad to not only vote but to weigh in on messaging.

This raises the perceived seriousness of the issues/election and motivates the voter in district to become more engaged,” Zell added.

“In this specific case, direct contact from Americans Abroad and the velocity of English [and Hebrew] language media generated in English on the race, but read in district had a profound impact on the high stakes that this race represented.

“While Jewish voters are intelligent and discriminating, there is no rational reason for US Jews to vote reflexively for the Democrats as they have in the past,” Zell continued.

“In Tuesday’s special election, Jewish voters supported the Republican candidate by a clear, but not massive majority. That vote evidences a maturity of judgment as opposed to robotic partisanship.

“Thus, unlike some other minorities who instinctively vote for the candidate of their race or religion, irrespective of whether they are the best candidate,” Zell concluded, “the Jews in NY-9 voted on principle and ignored our common religion with Mr. Weprin to support the candidate who will support Israel most effectively.”


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