Close NY race for Weiner seat may hinge on Jewish vote

Six-point lead in Siena College poll separates Republican Bob Turner from his opponent, Democrat David Weprin.

September 13, 2011 08:20
2 minute read.
Brooklyn bridge (illustrative)

brooklyn bridge 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

NEW YORK – A special congressional election to replace Anthony Weiner to be held on Tuesday promises a dramatic race potentially hinging on the Jewish vote in the district, which includes portions of Brooklyn and Queens.

A six-point lead in the Siena College poll separates Republican Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, from his opponent, Democrat David Weprin, in the race for former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner’s seat in New York’s Ninth Congressional District. Weiner stepped down in June following a much-publicized sex messaging scandal.

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Turner’s lead is an unusual turn of events in a Democratic district. According to The New York Times, the district has three registered Democrats for every one registered Republican. In November 2010’s congressional race, Weiner beat Turner by nearly 22 percentage points.

Pundits attribute Turner’s current lead to discontent with US President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

Turner told The Jerusalem Post that the his team is framing the election as an opportunity “to stand up, across party lines, and send a big message.”

“This race is going down to the wire,” Steven A. Greenberg, a Siena Research Institute pollster, told the Times.

“While Turner leads and has momentum on his side, this is still a heavily Democratic district, and in a low-turnout special election, the campaigns’ get-out-the-vote operations are going to be key.

“There is a great dissatisfaction with this administration in terms of returning prosperity to America and in terms of job growth,” Turner told the Post.

The campaign, however, is trying to harness the strong Jewish vote in the district by telling voters that their vote can be a referendum on US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policies. “The Jewish vote will be decisive, and that vote, I believe, will be driven mostly by Israel,” Turner said.

Prominent Democrats, including former New York City mayor Ed Koch, have rallied around Turner in this race, and have lent their voices to the issue of Jewish voters and Israel.

“If Jewish New Yorkers and others who support Israel were to turn away from the Democratic Party and elect the Republican candidate to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause President Obama to change his hostile position on the State of Israel and to reestablish the special relationship presidents before him had supported,” Koch was quoted saying in the New York Post.

The organization Republicans Abroad in Israel has deemed this race “an opportunity for the Jewish community to express its dissatisfaction with administration policies vis-a-vis Israel.”

“In the view of most Israelis, particularly American- Israelis, the Obama administration is perceived to be at best indifferent and at worst hostile to Israel’s interest,” Republicans Abroad in Israel co-chairman Marc Zell told the Post. American Middle East policy under Obama “has been one disaster after the next and is at least in part responsible for the deterioration of Western interests in the region... These developments bode ill for the United States as well as the Jewish state,” Zell said.

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