Republican Bob Turner thrashed his rival in Tuesday’s special election for the congressional seat held by seven-term ex-Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner, and political observers said Wednesday that it’s a sign that Democrats could be in political peril.
State assemblyman David Weprin was the early favorite to win, raising more cash in the Brooklyn/Queens district that is solidly Democratic. Still, Turner, a retired media exec with no political chops, bested Weprin 54% to 46%.
“We’ve been asked by the people of this district to send a message to Washington and I hope they hear it loud and clear,” said Turner, 70.
“This is a very middle-class district with small-business owners and homeowners. They’re very angry about the economy,” said John McLaughlin, a Turner pollster. He added that Democrats “aligned with [President Barack Obama] are in more trouble.”
Despite Turner’s victory, Democrats won in special elections for N.Y. state assembly seats, including Dan Quart, who represents the Upper East Side and Phil Goldfeder, who represents Far Rockaway.
Jamie Chandler, a Hunter College political science professor, said Turner’s win may be more of a sign for the 2013 mayoral race. Democratic candidates, he noted, will need to recognize a politically “moderate shift” in voters in the outer boroughs if they want to be successful.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to swear in Turner at 10 a.m. today. The district has been without a representative since June, when Weiner resigned amid a Twitter sexting scandal.
It could, however, be a short gig for Turner because declining census numbers may result in the district’s elimination.