Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Republican Bob Turner, with voters dealing a rebuke to President Barack Obama in a traditionally Democratic district, won the New York City House seat that scandal forced Anthony Weiner to give up.
The Associated Press reported that with 66 percent of the vote counted in yesterday’s special election, Turner had 53 percent while Democrat David Weprin had just under 47 percent.
In another special election for a vacant House seat in Nevada, Republican Mark Amodei was leading Democrat Kate Marshall. Amodei was favored to hold the seat that fellow Republican Dean Heller vacated earlier this year for an appointment to the Senate.
Weiner, a Democrat, vacated the New York seat in June following revelations the married congressman sent lewd photos of himself and messages to women over the Internet.
Turner, 70, capitalized on dissatisfaction over Obama’s handling of the economy and the administration’s perceived unfriendliness toward Israel. He was endorsed by former New York City Mayor Edward Koch and state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, both Democrats, over Weprin, an Orthodox Jew.
Representative Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said before the votes were counted that Obama’s Middle East policies “shouldn’t even be an issue” because Weprin “is a very solid vote for Israel.” Still, Engel said, the campaign may be “a wake-up call” for Obama that Jewish voters are unhappy with some of his policies, including his public suggestion that Israeli borders prior to the 1967 Six Day War should be the basis of a Middle East peace agreement.
Queens and Brooklyn
A poll last week by Siena College in Loudonville, New York, had given Turner a six-percentage-point lead in the district, which takes in parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
“People are very upset with Washington,” said Steven Greenberg, a Siena pollster. “They’re very angry about the economy and the jobs situation. And they’re prepared to take it out on the Democrats, even though the vast majority of the voters in this district are Democrats.”
Democrats sought to overcome the public disenchantment by mobilizing the party’s get-out-the-vote operation and through a last-minute ad campaign.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $514,247 on ads to try to hold the seat, Federal Election Commission reports show. The House Majority PAC, set up to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of Democratic congressional candidates, reported spending $162,656 on ads and direct mail on behalf of Weprin, 55, a state Assemblyman.
Retired TV Executive
An ad financed by the DCCC depicted Turner, a retired television industry executive, as favoring corporate tax loopholes over the needs of Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries.
Democrats accounted for 57 percent of the district’s registered voters as of April, according to the New York State Board of Elections, and Weiner won his seventh term in November with about 59 percent of the vote. Obama carried the district with 55 percent in 2008.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, called it “not a district that Republicans have any right to believe that we can win.”
The Republican victory may be short-lived. The district, once represented by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and the late Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice presidential nominee, could be one of New York’s two House seats redrawn out of existence because of the 2010 census. New York’s House delegation is shrinking in next year’s election to 27 seats from 29.
For now, Turner’s victory gives Republicans bragging rights after the party suffered its own upset in a western New York House race in May. In that special election, Democrat Kathy Hochul won in the traditionally Republican district with a campaign focused on protecting the existing Medicare program. The seat opened up after Republican Christopher Lee resigned following reports that the married lawmaker sent a bare-chested photo of himself to a woman he met online.
In the Nevada race, Amodei was buoyed by spending from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which pumped $597,818 into the race, and the American Crossroads group that Republican strategist Karl Rove helped set up, which spent $261,885.
With 43 percent of the vote counted, Amodei had 57 percent to 37 percent for Marshall, according to the AP. Amodei is a former state Republican Party chairman; Marshall serves as the state treasurer. The district covers virtually the entire state outside the Las Vegas area.
--With assistance from Laura Litvan and James Rowley in Washington. Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; Laura Litvan in Washington at email@example.com.
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