Anthony Weiner

Democrats now likely to lose Anthony Weiner's seat

Thanks to a lousy candidate and a lot of fear-mongering about Israel, a Republican might soon represent part of NYC


Alex Pareene
September 9, 2011 8:25PM (UTC)

The race to fill Anthony Weiner's former House seat is actually pretty meaningless -- New York's 9th District is liable to be redistricted out of existence soon -- but it's getting plenty of attention, because Democrats might be about to lose a formerly safe seat in New York City, of all places. Democrat David Weprin has run a lousy campaign, and Republican Bob Turner is having quite a bit of success running mostly on the platform that Weprin will team up with Barack Obama to destroy Israel. Siena college now has Turner at 50%, with Weprin at 44%. That's within the margin of error, but it's obviously a bad sign for Democrats.

Turner has the support of former Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed the Republican to send a bullshit message to Obama about not "throwing Israel under the bus." Hilariously, Weprin is actually an Orthodox Jew, while Turner is... not. But the "pro Israel" crowd lately sees right-wing Christians as more loyal to Zionism than liberal Jews, because liberal Jews sometimes offer the opinion that endless occupation of Palestine is perhaps unsustainable. (Not that Weprin is actually remotely left-wing on Israel -- his primary crime is being a Democrat.)

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This is an older district with a large conservative and Orthodox community -- remember how Anthony Weiner always thought Israel could do no wrong? -- and some residents are a bit... wary of President Obama. Turner has already campaigned on the "Ground Zero Mosque" (which Weiner notoriously refused to have a position on), with a fear-mongering, misleading TV ad. Ironically, Turner endorser Koch -- whose face has been prominent on Turner mailers -- came out in favor of the "mosque" last year, writing, "Let's be calm now and not need the passage of time to bring us to our senses and years later apologize."

Koch has managed to get Turner not to demogogue on the issue of gay marriage. But only to a point -- Turner is campaigning with virulent marriage equality opponent Dov Hikind.

Again, this is one basically meaningless special election, to decide who'll keep a seat warm until Albany deletes the district. Weprin's only in the race because no one else wanted to run. The result won't be a barometer of the national mood, just the mood of a bunch of very conservative Democrats in outer Queens and Brooklyn.

But the psychological effect of a Democratic loss in NY-09 would be devastating. The press will jump all over it, demoralized Congressional Democrats will preemptively admit defeat on everything, and everyone will immediately forget that "Jobs Bill" thing that just happened. It'd be a ridiculous overreaction, but that's how the political machine works. And that's why the DCCC is throwing a ton of money into a pointless race.


Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Anthony Weiner, D-n.y. Israel New York New York City U.s. House Of Representatives War Room

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