Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GOP Sweeps Pair of Special Elections, Including Anthony Weiner's Former District

Republican candidates turned in a pair of victories on Tuesday night in special Congressional elections in New York City and Nevada.

Former Nevada state senator Rick Amodei cruised to a lopsided win over the Democrat in the race, current Nevada state treasurer Kate Marshall in the special election in Nevada's 2nd congressional district. The district, which includes most of the state of Nevada outside of Clark County, was left without representation when Congressman Dean Heller was appointed by Gov Brian Sandoval to replace Senator John Ensign back in late April when Ensign resigned due to a sex scandal.

Nevada's 2nd district leans heavily Republican since it was created about 30 years ago and the outcome (if not the margin of victory) was hardly a startling development.

More surprising was what happened 2500 miles to the east on Tuesday night in the special election for New York's 9th Congressional district. This was the seat formerly occupied by Anthony Weiner before he was forced to resign over sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to certain followers on Twitter. The NY-9 contest was between Democrat NY state assembly member David Werpin (Assembly district 24, Queens) and retired cable TV executive Bob Turner, running as a Republican.

NY-9 has been held by Democrats since 1923, but polls a few days out from the special election indicated that Werpin was in trouble. On Tuesday night, Republican Bob Turner won the NY-9 special election by a 53% to 47% margin. Interestingly, both candidates seemed to be running against President Obama.

The 9th Congressional district encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens and has a large Jewish population. The Obama administration's terse meetings with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and calls for Israel to withdraw back to pre-1967 borders was seen as a factor in alienating some Jewish voters in the USA. Democrat former New York mayor Ed Koch ended up endorsing Turner in the special election based in large part on the president's handling of Israel.

While Werpin attempted to distance himself from President Obama, he and his campaign committed a series of gaffes late in the campaign. In one Q&A session, he said the national debt was $4 trillion (closer to $14 trillion) and a campaign ad showing an animated jet buzzing the Manhattan skyline came out shortly before the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.

As an assemblyman, Weprin also voted in favor of New York's recent vote on same sex marriage and also voiced support of the controversial Ground Zero mosque, issues that likely didn't go over very well with the Jewish and Catholic voters in NY-9. In the immediate aftermath of Turner's win, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D; FL-20) claimed that the same seat Representative Weiner won by 60% just 10 months ago was a 'difficult' district for the Democrats to win [only under your illustrious leadership can districts where registered Democrats outnumber GOP voters 3-1 can be considered 'difficult', Deb- NANESB!]

While there's still a possibility that NY-9 could still be redistricted out of existence soon, this would be the New York city area's third Congressional seat currently held by the GOP. Pete King represents part of Nassau county for NY-3 while Micheal Grimm represents Staten Island in NY-13.

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