Sep. 14, 2011
What exactly is the significance of the historic upset defeat of Democratic veteran David Weprin by Republican novice Bob Turner in the post-Anthony Weiner special election for New York’s heavily Democratic ninth congressional district—a district that hasn’t gone for a Republican since 1923?
The MSM has figured it out for us:
NEW YORK — It sounded improbable on the surface that a New York City congressional district where Democrats have a 3-1 registration edge and have held office for nearly a century could even come close to electing a Republican to the U.S. House.
But voter frustration over the sour economy and President Barack Obama’s policies made the improbable a reality, as a Republican political novice, Bob Turner, scored an upset victory in a special election Tuesday over David Weprin, a Democratic assemblyman from a prominent local political family. (HuffPo)
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NEW YORK (Reuters)—Republicans scored an upset victory in a congressional election on Tuesday in a Democratic stronghold of New York, trumpeting the win as a sign of voter discontent with President Barack Obama.
Less than a week after Obama delivered a $447 billion plan to create jobs as the country teeters on the brink of another recession, New York City voters handed Republican Bob Turner—a retired media executive—a 6 percentage point victory.
With the 2012 presidential election a year away, Obama’s approval rating is at 43 percent, with voters frustrated at his handling of the economy and with a 9.1 percent national jobless rate, signaling trouble for his re-election bid next November. (Chicago Tribune)
* * *
A little-known Republican businessman from Queens, channeling voter discontent with President Obama into an upset, won election to Congress on Tuesday from the heavily Democratic district in New York City last represented by Anthony D. Weiner. (NYTimes)
* * *
With the outcome of his own reelection effort 14 difficult months away, President Obama suffered a sharp rebuke Tuesday when voters in New York elected a conservative Republican to represent a Democratic district that has not been in GOP hands since the 1920s. (WaPo)
Along with the economy, some of these stories mention dissatisfaction among Jewish voters with the Obama administration’s policy on Israel—a bone of contention that led Ed Koch to endorse Turner—ironically enough, since Weprin is not only Jewish, but seems to have a pro-Israel record quite different from the president’s (as far as I can tell, not that I’ve been paying attention).
Ignored in virtually all the mainstream media coverage is another factor leading to opposition among Weprin’s fellow Jews: New York’s same-sex marriage legislation, which Weprin supported. Of all the sources quoted above, only HuffPo mentions this:
Weprin also became embroiled in New York-centric disputes over Israel and gay marriage, which cost him some support among Jewish voters.
Orthodox Jews, who tend to be conservative on social issues, expressed anger over Weprin’s vote in the Assembly to legalize gay marriage. In July, New York became one of six states to recognize same-sex nuptials.
Meanwhile, another source had a lot to say about the same-sex marriage factor—or the supposed lack of it. The gay activist Advocate was most anxious to clarify the upset was not, repeat not about same-sex marriage:
NY9: It Wasn’t About Marriage, But Marriage Was an Issue
Despite decades of Democratic control in the district, David Weprin lost a special congressional election in New York that hinged on the economy and dissatisfaction with national politics. The shocking result means that voters will continue to hear about same-sex marriage, even if evidence suggests the issue played no significant role in the race.
The Advocate goes on:
Still smarting from their loss in the state legislature in June, marriage equality opponents sensed an opportunity late in the game, and the National Organization for Marriage injected $75,000 into the race. NOM aligned itself with a small but vocal contingent of Orthodox Jewish leaders and Ruben Diaz, the avowedly antigay state senator, to send mailings and robocalls aimed at defeating Weprin, who voted for the marriage equality bill in the state assembly.
Republican Bob Turner defeated Weprin on Tuesday, with the retired cable television executive receiving 53% of the vote compared to Weprin’s 47% with 70% of precincts reporting by midnight. The upset appears likely to raise questions about the potential for marriage equality support to pose a political liability, and also about the willingness of opponents to press the issue even when polling shows a majority of voters preoccupied with other concerns. While some answers remain in flux just hours after the election, the initial analysis suggests that discussions about marriage equality will persist, so long as opponents have anything to do with it.
Ironically, spin aside (for example, mentioning NOM’s financial contributions while conveniently ignoring all the money Democrats channeled into keeping the seat, as well as the heavy politicking by the likes of Bill Clinton, etc.), and notwithstanding the nose-holding tone, you could say that’s some of the, um, straightest reporting on the marriage issue in the election out there.
As for the Advocate‘s claim that Weprin’s defeat wasn’t about marriage … somehow, I’m reminded of this:
White House says Dem’s loss in NY not about Obama
WASHINGTON—The White House says it does not view a Democratic candidate’s defeat in a New York City special congressional election as a referendum on President Barack Obama. (AP)