Amid presidential election season, Republicans dealt a sharp blow to Democrats Tuesday, as Republican Bob Turner won a special House election in New York. The Republican victory, in the race to fill the seat vacated by scandal-plagued Anthony Weiner, gives Republicans a victory in the district that President Barack Obama won with 55 percent in the 2008 election, and one Democrats have held for four years.
Turner, a retired broadcasting executive, became the first Republican to win New York's ninth congressional district since 1920, revealing that many voters are unhappy with Obama three years into his term of office and with high unemployment and the slow-growth U.S. economy. Among registered voters in the district, three Democrats out number one Republican, signaling the upset victory pulled off by Turner.
We've been asked by the people of this district to send a message to Washington and I hope they hear it laud and clear, Turner told supporters. We're ready to say, 'Mr. President, we are on the wrong track.'
Turner's victory also shows that many voters, Democrats included, are fed up with the U.S. government's $14.5 trillion deficit. He entered the race because he said he was fed up with overspending in Washington, and called throughout the campaign for deep budget cuts. Turner's opponent, Democrat David Weprin, is a Democratic assemblyman connected with a prominent political family -- yet he couldn't muster victory despite seemingly strong odds in the Brooklyn and Queens-area district.
His victory is a signal for what's to come in the presidential election, Turner said, a 70-year-old Catholic.
This message will resound for a full year. It will resound into 2012, said Turner. I only hope our voices are heard, and we can start putting things right again.
Turner was endorsed by the likes of Democrat Ed Koch, the firmer New York mayor, who said he was sending a message to Obama on policies toward Israel with the support. Also, Weprin's views on gay marriage in addition to Israel cost him support with many Jewish voters.
A recent Siena Poll showed that Obama, who beat John McCain in the district by 11 points in 2008, is approved by just 43 percent of the district's voters right now, while 54 percent said they disapproved of Obama.
With 80 percent of the ballots counted early Wednesday morning, Turner led Weprin by six percentage points.
Weprin had raised $500,000 for the race, compared to Turner's $200,000, but the former candidate for New York City comptroller couldn't get the win despite last minute campaign help from former President Bill Clinton.
In another key Republican victory at the polls Tuesday, Republican Mark Amodei won an easy victory over Democrat Kate Marshall in a U.S. House special election -- considered a key presidential swing state.
Republicans were already hailing the House race victories as voters sending a message to Obama and Democrats. In a a fundraising email to supporters Tuesday night, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions said, The president was not on the ballot tonight, but his failed policies were an albatross for the Democrats who were. By defeating two hand-picked Democrat candidates, you sent Obama a loud and clear message.