In a stunning rebuke to Democrats, a Republican won former Rep. Anthony Weiner's House seat Tuesday night, taking a New York City district that had not been held by the GOP for 90 years.
The Associated Press called the election for Republican Bob Turner just before midnight.
At 12:25 a.m. EDT, with 81 percent of precincts reporting, Turner had 30,452 votes, 53 percent, to Weprin's 26,246, or 46 percent,
in New York's 9th District, covering parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
At Turner's victory party, supporters chanted, “Yes we can!” — a jab at Barack Obama 2008 campaign, WNYC radio reported.
“Maybe we started something,” Turner said. “I sure hope so.”
Weprin retired for the night without conceding.
The fact that Turner was even competitive in Weiner's district, was seen as showing how disillusioned even solidly Democratic voters have become with their party's leadership, and Republicans framed the election as a referendum on President Barack Obama's performance.
It wasn't planned that way, but this is the only nationally contested election on the federal level, so it is, in a way, a referendum on President Obama's policies, Turner said Tuesday, before the votes came in.
Weprin campaigned on several positions, including protecting Social Security and Medicare, that have strong support in the district, and he attempted to link Turner to the increasingly unpopular Tea Party.
But he also lost some support among the district's large Orthodox Jewish population -- which he might have expected to win easily, since he is himself an Orthodox Jew -- because he voted for same-sex marriage in the New York Assembly, and because some Jewish voters oppose Obama's policies toward Israel, NPR reported.
Democrats were clearly worried, and big names like Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo campaigned for Weprin in the last days.
Weprin had said he was confident that the district's well-established Democratic machinery would be able to turn out more voters than the Republicans.
Weiner -- who had served in the House of Representatives since 1999 and earned a reputation as one of the most outspoken liberals in Congress -- was forced to resign in June after admitting that he had sent lewd photos to a woman on Twitter and engaged in inappropriate online relationships with six women over the course of three years.