With just over a week before the September 13 special election, could Republicans be inching closer to taking over disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner’s New York district? According to a poll of 300 likely special election voters in New York’s Ninth Congressional District, Republican businessman Bob Turner, who lost a challenge to Weiner in 2010, has gained seven points over the last month and is now tied with Democratic state assemblyman David Weprin at 42 percent.
The poll, conducted for the Turner campaign, has a conflicting poll from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC survey of 400 likely special election voters shows shows Weprin leading Turner 47 percent to 39 percent.
The Ninth District, spanning southern parts of Brooklyn and Queens, has traditionally voted Democratic, though much less so than other New York City districts. The district’s Cook Partisan Voting Index is D+5. John Kerry won the district 56 percent to 44 percent in 2004, and Barack Obama won it 55 percent to 44 percent in 2008. In 2010, Weiner won a seventh term, besting challenger Turner by 31 percentage points.
So while Weprin had been expected to hold the seat for the Democrats without much trouble, an independent poll from Siena College released last month showed Turner was within striking distance, polling 6 points behind Weprin, 48 percent to 42 percent. The focus of the race, meanwhile, has been on a wide range of issues, including the job performance of President Obama, who is unpopular in the district, and support for Israel, which is strong in an area with a large Jewish population including a significant number of Orthodox Jews.
Turner has attempted to tie Weprin to Obama and told the audience at a debate forum on Wednesday that the special election will have “profound influence” on national policy between now and the 2012 election. Weprin has claimed that Turner is aligned with the Tea Party and simply wants to “cut, cut, cut” if elected to Washington.
The Republican was recently criticized when Turner said that federal funds to help rescue workers injured or sickened during 9/11 shouldn’t apply to volunteers. The Turner campaign has since said that the former television executive supports the 9/11 rescue workers bill.
Religion and Israel have been major issues, as well. Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, has been forced to distance himself from the president over Obama’s policies toward Israel, as shown in today’s video from the Emergency Committee for Israel. And his Orthodox coreligionists have attacked Weprin for voting for New York’s recently enacted law allowing same-sex marriage. Independent Democratic senator Joseph Lieberman has endorsed Weprin, but the Catholic Turner has earned endorsements from both the Jewish Voice and former Democratic New York City mayor Ed Koch. Yesterday, the New York Daily News also endorsed Turner.
If elected, Turner would be the first Republican to represent the Ninth District since the 1920’s. The district, however, is among those likely to be apportioned out of existence as a result of the 2010 Census.