Republican hopeful Bob Turner came to Sheepshead Bay yesterday seeking support to best Assemblyman David Weprin in the race for the Ninth Congressional District, the seat recently vacated by Anthony Weiner.
In the wake of a surprise cross-party endorsement from former mayor Ed Koch, the 20-or-so attendees – which included Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, GOP radio personalities Russ Gallo and Gene Berardelli, Brooklyn GOP Vice Chair David Storobin, and Republican district leaders from around the borough – buzzed with excitement in the law offices of Brooklyn GOP Chairman Craig Eaton, located at 1662 Sheepshead Bay Road. The energetic attendees were optimistic about the media mogul’s chances in an increasingly conservative district, opposing someone they characterize as an out-of-district Democratic contender whose campaign stumbled out of the gates.
Koch, a Democrat, injected himself into the campaign on Monday by officially endorsing Turner, prodding voters to elect the Republican as a rebuke of President Barack Obama’s proposal that Israel base peace talks on pre-1967 borders. The endorsement brought condemnation by fellow Democrats, who point out that Weprin – an Orthodox Jew with family in Israel – is a staunch supporter of the country. But the endorsement is quickly making Turner look like the more pro-Israel candidate, energizing attendees of yesterday’s fundraiser.
“Ed Koch coming over to the bright side,” Turner told the participants. “Campaigning isn’t always fun, but this was fun.”
Israel isn’t the only issue on which Turner is attempting to undermine Weprin, who is considered the front-runner in the Democratic district. The fundraiser came just a day after Weprin visited the Self Help Austin Street Senior Center in Forest Hills, Queens, to discuss the need to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
As The Empire reports:
“The Republicans in the House are looking to slash Social Security and Medicare. Frankly, people are scared,” Weprin said as supporters stood behind him. “I will fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare, not to privatize Social Security and Medicare.”
In case you missed that: David Weprin wants you to know he’s the guy who will fight for Social Security and Medicare.
It appears Turner is on the same page. Turner told attendees at the fundraiser that some of his most important goals are to preserve Social Security for people 55 and over, prevent Medicare from privatization and protect Medicaid from elimination – ostensibly the same themes offered by Weprin a day earlier. And it seems poised to combat attacks from the assemblyman: Weprin’s campaign issued a statement on Monday claiming Turner’s plan to cut federal spending would slash programs like Medicaid.
But Turner, a Queens resident, said the candidates differ on their backgrounds and economic views. He said he opposes block grants and deficit spending, and that his business experience gives him an advantage over the career politician.
“I can address [the deficit] in a business-minded way,” Turner said. “The deficit is a mind boggling problem, and the size of the deficit can capsize the entire system … We’ve seen worldwide the history of irresponsible economics.”
“It’s an awful legacy we’re leaving. We have to address it and address it intelligently and across party lines,” he added.
Supporters agree that Turner’s greatest strength is his business sense against a “guy who doesn’t even live in the district,” said Craig Eaton.
“It’s time to send a message to Washington that we need businessmen, people with no agenda” representing our interests, Eaton told the attendees.
With the Koch endorsement on his heels, campaign experience earned during his run against Weiner last year, and an electorate increasingly turning to political outsiders, Turner is optimistic he will secure the seat.
“Election night , we had 41 percent of the vote. Some people said we did good. Well, 51 percent is the number we’re going for this time,” Turner said. “I think we can get that. In fact, I know we can.”
A special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s seat – the Ninth Congressional District – will take place on September 13.