Bob Turner, who became the first Republican to represent New York’s 9th Congressional District in nearly a century when he won the September special election to replace Anthony Weiner, completed 60 days in office last week. So far, as is the nature of partisan politics, reviews seem mixed. Here’s a roundup of some of the praise and criticism he has received in his first two months.
Turner kicked off his tenure with a trip to Afghanistan in early October, where he received military briefings and observed troop training exercises as part of his work on the Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs Committees. He was praised for taking meals with soldiers from New York, interviewing them about their experiences, while comparing them unfavorably to members of Occupy Wall Street movement: “Their morale is terrific, they are focused, professional and they have a great sense of camaraderie … in sharp contrast to some of their other generation hanging around Wall Street now,” he told the Queens Campaigner.
There’s certainly no love lost between Turner and the OWS protestors, one of whom interrupted his swearing-in ceremony in Queens earlier this month, shouting about the congressman’s support of free trade and unwillingness to support tax hikes on the rich before being dragged from the building. The ceremony was further marred when Turner’s staff was forced to admit that they promoted it using funds from his election campaign, violating House Ethics rules.
Turner had previously been attacked for his tax policy – the DCCC sent an email accusing him of “turn[ing] his back on New York voters” by signing a no new tax pledge only weeks after taking office.
Turner was also blasted for an early vote by Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who released a statement in October criticizing Turner for voting to prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from trying to block Boeing from operating a new aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina, where the company allegedly illegally relocated their plant to strike back at unionized workers demanding higher pay and better working conditions. “My new Congressman’s honeymoon ended when his first vote in Washington was to undermine basic worker protections and enable companies to outsource American jobs overseas,” Lancman said.
Turner seems to be faring better on foreign policy issues – he has recently sponsored two bills to encourage President Obama to strengthen sanctions against Iran, both of which received unanimous bipartisan support in Congress. But even that move was marred by his simultaneous support to allow an Iranian-affiliated business to purchase a stake in the nation’s largest mining company.
Turner also gained points with Brooklyn Republicans recently when he appointed longtime Bay Ridge Republican leader Bob Capano as his district director. Capano will manage Turner’s district office, which will open in Sheepshead Bay in January.
It certainly seems like a mixed bag so far. Take our poll and tell us how you think Bob Turner has done in his first 60 days.
– Katie McNish