Southern Brooklyn

Turner Wins! But It Wasn’t Because Of Obama…


The special election is now over, and Republican Bob Turner bested Democrat David Weprin in what was originally expected to be an easy win for the party of donkeys. The writing was on the wall by the time 84 percent of districts had been counted: Turner had a relatively wide victory margin of 54 percent of the vote to Weprin’s 46 percent.

Now we get the political navel-gazing, the slice-and-dice of every campaign gaffe, the meticulous scrutiny of national and local sympathies that could’ve led to such an upset. After all, political reporters – the fiercest of reportorial wizards in the game of sussing out meaning, whether it’s real or imagined – must justify their salaries and fill their pages. But does any of it actually speak to local voters’ motivation?

The narrative most are buying is that put forth by Turner: this was a referendum on Obama, and a vote for Turner sends a stern message to the administration. Here’s how Turner puts it, according to Courier-Life:

“This is an historic race,” Turner told his supporters. “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: Mr. President, we are on the wrong track.”

Turner added that the message also included that voters have “had it” with Obama’s “irresponsible fiscal policies” and his “treatment of Israel.”

“I am the messenger,” he thundered. “Heed us.”

That’s also the tack taken by a Daily News editorial, which blames the president’s “toxic effect” on voters throughout the nation.

The variation on this assertion is that it wasn’t just a referendum on Obama, but specifically on his Israel policies – an early issue in the campaign that ignited with the endorsement of Turner by former mayor Ed Koch. As the classiest of all political publications – Drudge Report – put it: “Revenge of the Jews.”

But, I have to say, locally – a concept almost none of these reporters have a clue about – I haven’t heard very many people say, “Oh, I’m voting for Bob Turner to send Obama a message.”

More often it was the appeal of personality, a soft-spoken caricature of grandpa versus a clueless stick-in-the-mud sporting a porn ‘stache. Seriously, Weprin had the constant expression of a deer in headlights without ever being as adorable as a deer. Who would you pick?

And if the Obama theory can float, so can a similar theory about it being a message to Albany. With the depth of corruption and incompetence coming out of the state legislature, why would anyone vote for a state assemblyman – especially one part of a political dynasty and who was appointed to power more often than he was elected?

The fact of the matter is that, surprised as the political press wants to play, this wasn’t much of a surprise at all. New York’s 9th isn’t as reliably Democratic as they’ve been saying this election cycle. It remains one of the most conservative districts in the city, with Russian-Americans and Orthodox Jews tilting the balance to the right. Turner ran against Weiner in 2010, winning about 40 percent of the vote. No one then said it was a referendum on Obama, just that the increasingly rightward populace was lashing out against Weiner’s liberal tirades.

Since I don’t get paid by the word, or for my injections of profound meaning into otherwise mundane political developments (and why, pray tell, can’t a race just be a race anymore?), I’m not going to hazard a guess. But, unlike the writers of such dribble, I have an audience made up entirely of people living in the district. So instead, I’ll just ask you:

Why do you think Turner won? What made you vote for or against him?

Video of Turner’s victory speech provided by Shimon Gifter via The Brooklyn Politics.

Comment policy


  1. I didn’t see this special  election as a referendum on Pres. Obama, I  saw it as a referendum on the way, how and why the candidates–especially Weprin–were selected.  So, I made the choice that the phone callers never presented: I wrote-in myself!  No, not a wasted vote…my statement of lacking trust in the political bosses.I’d love to  find out how many write-ins there were, and I especially  wonder how many Weiner got?

  2. Now, get Kruger and Cymbrowitz out.

    Kruger, prison.

    Cymbrowitz, investigate how his girlfriend got the NYC job with no qualifications.

  3. Does anyone know what the turnout was? Did people show up to vote in any significant numbers out of the total of registered voters? I have a feeling few showed up, which meant the ones who wanted this victory the most (the Republicans) did a better job getting their voters motivated and to the polls.

  4. Your headline should be “With nation watching, Sheepshead Bay voters tilt race to Turner” or something to that affect.

    In Brooklyn Turner won 67% of the vote to Weprin’s 33%. With 147 of 170 precincts reporting.

    Weprin actually won Queens 51% to 48%.
    Of course none of the national articles that I’ve read even mentioned Sheepshead Bay.

    It would be interesting to compare the Brooklyn and Queens percent vote from this election to that of previous years.

    In next year’s redistricting I think the Brooklyn portions of the district might be separated from the Queens portion.


  5. Congratulations Bob! You now represent me so try not to fuck up. At least do a good job pretending you are looking out for my interests.

    We replaced ultra democrat with a republican with no  political experience. We deserve everything that is coming to us.

  6. I was at his campaign headquarters  last night & saw the whole thing unfold.

    What the speakers pointed out, but the media ignored, was something which the Turner campaign purposely did to make a statement….. One one side stood the American Flag.. On the other side stood the flag of Israel…..

    He won this election, in part, because of support he got from former Mayor Ed Koch, and Dov Hikind.  In both cases, he gave them repeated assurances that if elected, he would use his Congressional position to support Israel, and help some of the other members of Congress send President Obama a message…..

    He also went to great lengths to assure everyone that he is NOT for dismantling Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. He just wants to make sure that the programs are solvent.. that America has a way of paying for them……

    I am Jewish & I support Israel…. I spoke to a couple of Rabbi’s who were there….
    They feel the same way I do…..

    Bob Turner will NOT turn a blind eye to President Obama, when President Obama either ignores Israels needs, or tries to undermine it, as he has done so often during his tenure in office to date…  

    We could not make that statement about Mr. Weprin….. 

    Look at the propaganda the National Jewish Democratic Committee puts out.. .Would Weprin have said anything to repudiate President Obama on Israel????

  7. District voters have gotten more conservative and don’t like where the nation is at this moment in time. Turner was obviously the lesser of two men no one really cares about. And proves that Brooklyn and Dem leaders picked a sacrificial lamb who got slaughtered!

  8. This was never a referendum on Obama’s policies other than his wishy washy support for Israel, specifically his stupid remark about the 1967 borders, and Turner could not have won if Ed Koch had not thrown Weprin under the bus on that one issue, despite the fact that Weprin is an observant Jew and both candidates are staunch supporters of Israel. But much of Turner’s support also came from the anti-gay sentiment whipped up by Orthodox and Hasidic rabbis, fundamentalist ministers, and the Catholic Church in an effort to punish Weprin for his support of same-sex marriage, which, in New York, is now a legislative fait accompli that will be nearly impossible to ever repeal and unlikely to be judicially overturned. But, if the voters of the 9th Congressional District are sending Obama a message on the Israeli issue, he’d better pay attention, because he won’t be able to win re-election without carrying New York, and he won’t be able to carry New York without the so-called Jewish vote, which is firmly rooted in support for the State of Israel. Of course, as a freshman Congressman from a district that will likely disappear in the next reapportionment, Turner will be little more than a voice in the wilderness in Congress, marching in lock-step with the Republican leadership, and possibly even the renegade Tea Party despite the growing appearance that even Republicans have had their fill of its tail-wagging-the-dog shenanigans. Weprin’s main problem, however, was that, despite his political family heritage and extensive fiscal experience in office, he had no real charisma and failed to generate the confidence or enthusiasm among voters required of an insurgent candidate. He had neither the passion nor the intellect of an Anthony Weiner, and he lacked the look and personality that would make voters sit up and take notice. Even his celebrity supporters failed to strike a responsive chord with pivotal voters. I mean, Bowser from Sha Na Na? Yeah, right. It appears that Weprin’s major appeal to Democratic voters was that he was a Democrat in a predominantly Democratic district. Given Turner’s 40% showing in his prior race against Weiner, apparently that’s no longer enough.

  9. Obama is too obsessed with Israel existence. He tries
    to demonize Israel at any chance he gets. Look who is taking over Tunisia,
    Egypt, Yemen Libya, Turkey and etc. yes sure Arab spring for “democracy”….morons
    at mass media got it all wrong. Its an arab spring for more hatred and destruction
    of only jewish home land with help from Obama administration. Tunisia local
    population destroyed only of a few if not only synagogue in the capital. Egyptians
    completely ransacked Israeli embassy at Cairo and threaten to kill jews. Don’t get
    me wrong previous regime were not in any way humane to their own people or to
    the state of Israel. But its defiantly went from bad to worse.

  10. Some people are in a for a big surprise. He’s a lame duck immediately and can do whatever he wants. Which means voting with his Tea Party friends to make cuts to all the programs he swore to protect.

    WE don’t deserve whatever is coming to us. But there are some who deserve to pay for their lack of conscience and consideration off personal interest over what is best for ALL Americans. The naive ones did turn a blind eye, but they will have to ride out the consequences.

  11. BTW compared to what Jimmy an asshole did to Israel
    Obama doing it 10 times worse..both scumbags. Obama shift your energy on Syria
    where numbers of people getting killed reaching 3000….G-d forbid if Israel
    would kill 3000 of its enemies the world would condemn Israel and boycott its

  12. Don’t worry Kon, hopefully America will correct the error that was made in 2008 by voting out the community organizer.

  13. The orthodox Jewish and conservative Christian communities got out the vote.  Plain and simple.  Weprin failed to motivate the traditional liberal coalition of union members and the less orthodox Jewish community.  I agree – it doesn’t seem a referendum on President Obama, but more of a local community election.

  14. Andrew, you brought up some very good points on how Turner was able to win the special election.
    I also believe that Ed Koch helped push him over the top and was the key to his victory.
    What do you think about the changing population of new voters in Queens and Brooklyn from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union?. I have many new neighbors in my area who tend to vote conservative/republican.
    No one has even brought up the changing political mindset of the secular Ashkenazi and Syrian Jews who also came out to vote for Turner.

  15. Thats why I mentioned the people of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Read the post again. The changing political mindset of the new population. 

  16. Thats why I mentioned the people of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Read the post again. The changing political mindset of the new population. 

  17. Surely looks as though it was indeed the Jewish vote that voted as a bloc—with 2 issues coming into play: gay marriage, and the upcoming situation in Israel that comes to a head next Monday.

  18. The Republican party  put such fear  in people’s minds by  advertising about Weprin being for the Mosque, that the idiots who voted for Turner never thought about their own needs like the importance of Social Security, and Medicare, and legal abortions and gay rights,  and job creations in  America. President Obama has a great jobs program but the Republicans will never let it pass.   The Republicans  concentrate their rhetoric, about  how important it is in defending Israel, which is all well and good but what about defending the people of the United States who have lost their homes and jobs ?  All American presidents will defend  Israel because our safety and freedom is realy connected with our ties to them in every way…     

  19. Brooklyn

    Weprin 6,121  33% Turner 12,584 67% (up 19 percentage points since 2010) 2010Weiner 17,030 52%, Turner 15,663 48%Queens2011Weprin 23,568 52% Turner 21,232 47% (up 12 percentage points since 2010)2010Wiener 49,981 65%, Turner 27,466 35%-2010 data from

  20. Russians don’t like ‘left’-leaning politicians. Can’t blame them. The confusion over Israel — an Orthodox Jew beaten down by a Catholic with a lot of help from Ed Koch, Rudy Guliani, other right-wingers Turner has worked with over the years (e.g., Rush Limbaugh); anti-mosque people — the one in the city & I’m guessing the one here; the sucky timing — two days after the 10-year anniversary. And a national anti-gay marriage organization spending a fortune campaigning against anyone who voted for gay marriage. And the lukewarm candidacy — the last-minute flood of support from Democratic candidates, especially the National Council of Jewish Democrats warning how Republicans like Turner will cut aid to Israel to reduce the deficit — it took almost a whole month for them to get the robocalls going. Too little, too late.

  21. Israel sucks. Why does America need to help out Israel. If Israel wants to be their own nation, and do whatever they want they should expect no aid or support from the United States. 

  22. Let’s not forget that Turner claimed not to be like all the other Republican candidates of recent vintage. While telling the National Review that Social Security is doomed. And he will assist in euthanizing it.

  23. You seriously think John McCain and Sarah Palin would have done a better job? Can you pass me whatever you’re smoking? If that jackass and the turd with tits were in power we’d have defaulted on our debt and spiraled into a depression that would make the 1930s look like the roaring 20s.

    I’m disappointed with Obama on many issues, but with the exception of Jon Huntsman, the GOP hasn’t presented a single candidate who doesn’t scare the fucking crap with anyone with an IQ. But of course Huntsman, who has diplomatic experience, business, and gubernatorial experience isn’t even a contender since he values science.

  24. While he is decrying the deficit he offers no real way of lowering it. Increasing revenue is the only possible solution. But he doesn’t believe in taxing those who have means of making a real dent on the problem.

  25. Good gosh.  Put fear in peoples mind???? i walked into the poll with a woman telling me “Vote Weprin, don’t let them take away your social security”…. The only damned platform you have left, fella, is “they’re going to take away your social security and medicare”…. All you have left is to sell fear. Oh yeah, also “it’s Bush’s fault”. But   I guess 3 years,  that’s getting a little old.

      I should have told the woman  I wish they’d take away social security and I can make my own system. I’d have retired with millions instead of the 1 or 2% yield that freaking Social Security gives you. What social security does, besides keeping Democrats in office thru fear, is precisely to keep people from saving and properly investing their own money for a comfortable retirement. SS keeps people struggling in retirement. Since I’m not running for office, I can say what everyone, Democrat and Republican knows.

       You do know that SS will indeed be “taken away” in the future. It must. And it will. It’s unsustainable, and it’s a very lousy system. But it’s what keeps Democrats in office at this point. Through fear tactics.

  26. what is best for all Americans in the long-term is serious budget cuts. A balanced budget would eventually send this economy into super rapid growth creating jobs for rich and poor, like it used to be. And constant phony “stimulus” and “jobs” bills which do nothing will be seen to be the problem, not the solution.

       There would be indeed some pain along the way short-term. Unfortunately, 14 trillion dollar budget deficits  tend to create that. We should never have created this situation in the first place. Now it’s painful to get out of.

         What’s best for greedy selfish baby-boomers in the short-term is to keep spending more and more money for ourselves, and who cares about 40 years from now anyway, right?

         I’m sorry to say that I don’t think this country returns to greatness until my own generation, the  socially-conscious-but-I-need-3-cars hypocritical baby boomers  pass on and get out of the way of the business of creating a better and freer society.

       It’s nice not having to run for office, I can say the real truth, and to heck with whomever is bothered by it.

  27. First of all, increase taxes, and you’ll just yell to spend the money. not a dime will go to reducing the deficit. Second of all, even the NY Times acknowledges there just aint enough rich people you  can go after to make a dent in a 14 trillion dollar deficit.

       The solution has been to raise revenue way too long. That’s the problem, not the solution. A 14 trilion dollar deficit is not created due to “lack of revenue”. That’s a joke.

  28. i certainly hope that Social Security is abolished over time. See my other post. It’s yield is putrid. It keeps people from accumulating decent sums of money for retirement. By the way, I’m an associate of the Society of Actuaries (1979), so I have some knowledge in the area.

  29. It was probably the increasing Russian vote that got Turner in. Just my guess. Thank goodness they don’t fall for “they’re going to take away Social Security” scare tactics. Russians may be a lot of things, but scared and dumb ain’t one of them.

  30. There it is, the phrase you  can count on getting from EVERY liberal. If you like Republican candidates, you don’t have a  decent IQ.

      There should be a medical study done. It’s astounding to me. Every person with liberal beliefs suddenly experiences huge jumps in IQ, and every conservative-leaning person instantly becomes a moron! Not sure how this works concerning the brain waves, but it’s just fascinating to me!

  31. I don’t understand something.  Turner voted in Breezy Point, therefore he must live there…  I thought that part of town didn’t allow Jews, therefore how can he be supported by Jews?

  32. The Orthodox Jews have learned  a lot from the fascists, they are so oppossed to gay marriage & abortion, that they will destroy the democrats or anyone else who supports those issues.I wonder what they do to their gay children? Or maybe they don’t have any, like Iran where they have no gays, They hang them! I got phone calls all day long vote for Jesus, Catholics & Jews vote for Turner, Stop the Pedifiles.

  33. Well, ten years ago we had a surplus. Now we have the worst deficit ever. We got there because we cut revenue gathering while increasing our spending. What did we increase our spending on. It certainly wasn’t entitlement programs.

    How dare Ameicans believe that they have the right to decent standard of living, affordable healthcare, and a retirement free of worry. Not to worry though. Soon all that awful social progress of the past two hundred years will be reversed. It will be almost as if it’s 1800 again.

    Child labor is already returning. Now that’s an excellent start. Next, debtor’s prison.

  34. The number of orthodox Jews in southern Brooklyn is increasing geometrically. Put those groups together with some conservative leaning Catholics and you have a Republican leaning district.

  35. Don’t knock the modern day Republicans. They want America to be the great place it used to be. With child labor, unsafe food, coal infested air. Those were the good old days.

  36. I was looking up some charts a few weeks ago and found a bunch that measured income tax rates over time. Two of the charts stand out in my memory – one showing rates going back to the mid-70s, the other going back to the late 1800s. They both indicated that tax rates over the past 20 years have been the lowest they’ve been in the past century (save for the Great Depression). So, in the years of the American middle-class’s most expansive growth and affluence (post-Depression to the 70s) we had MUCH higher tax rates than we have now. I’m not saying this to imply people should stop whining about taxes, but I do think it’s interesting that there’s this constant narrative about how taxes in the U.S. have gotten out of control. Considering what we pay now compared to our past – and compared to other developed nations – I can’t see how such a narrative is justified.

  37. Israel should not be the barometer for judging one’s fitness for office. Israel is a sovereign nation and will make its own decisions; the influence of the American President, or congresspeople, is very slight.

    If the government of Norway became angry at Obama for some reason even the most easily provoked Republican would likely shrug their shoulders.  But Israel!

    I do not care at all for this sort of imbalance. It is screwing everything up which is sacred in THIS country.

  38. Certainly there are a lot more than 20,000 potential voters in The Brooklyn portion of the district. But these people consist of a significant number that have never voted at all, and a large number that votes only when they accidentally fall into the polling place.

  39. It isn’t. Though to be fair, there were zero federal taxes on incomes below $4,000 before the Great Depression. $4,000 was upper middle class income in 1928. One could live very well on 77 dollars a week. A decent car cost less than $1500. A luxury car less than $2500. You could buy a nice sized house for $3500.

    Dealing with the effects of the depression and financing World War II increased the need for revenue. Increasing military infrastructure made tax increases, thought to be merely emergency measures permanent. The same infrastructure exists today, only modified slightly. Add the cost of Homeland Security, a long term military invention in Iraq, and the increasing costs of paying off earlier debt and we have a need for more revenue than we are getting today. But in the current political environment this is not what voters want to hear.

  40. Israel is, indeed, a sovereign nation and does make its own decisions that it expects us to agree with. If they were attacked, they would need our help, financially or militarily, and, if they attacked pre-emptively, they would need our political and moral support. One of the reasons we are so hated in the Arab street is that we have always sided with Israel no matter what.

    While I think Obama’s 1967 borders remark was assinine, I think that he is trying to level the playing field and improve our image with the Muslim world by listening to their concerns and not appearing to give Israel a rubber stamp and a blank check on every issue.
    But he also knows that he can’t alienate Israel’s strong support among American voters, which includes Christians as well as Jews, Republicans and Democrats, and liberals and conservatives. And he knows that we need Israel for strategic reasons, perhaps even more than they need us.

    I don’t know what would happen if Israel went rogue and did something so politically horrendous, like a pre-emptive nuclear strike against one of its neighbors, that we couldn’t support. Israel’s once monolithic support among American Jews has already eroded somewhat over differences regarding the settlements and how to accommodate the Palestinians with regard to statehood, and the emerging political movements in the once Israel-friendly Muslim countries will pose new challenges to Israel and its supporters. People both here and abroad are worried about whether the Obama administration will be on the right side of history as things unfold, and Americans may be voting their fears, supporting candidates and political entities that have unequivocally supported Israel in the past.

    What Ed Koch did to Weprin, and to the Democratic Party, was wrong, but, if it serves as a wake-up call to the radical elements among Obama’s supporters that Israel is a litmus test issue that it must take more seriously in order to win enough Jewish and other pro-Israel votes to carry New York in 2012, then Koch may have actually saved Obama from being a one term president. Only time will tell.

  41. What I want to know is if Turner is going to do something about the Plumb Beach bike path, now that he was elected to represent this district. Is it ever going to get fixed or are we waiting for Belt to get washed away as well before anyone notices?

  42. weprin just seems like such a idiot with shifty eyes
    I blame the  democratic loss on the Party for putting out such a poor candidate.
    either they believed they they could not lose or they just threw Weprin out as the sacrificial lamb since the seat is not going to exist in he near future.

  43. Israel is not the deciding issue for a lot of voters. What we seeing
    here is very pronounced shift to the right, which encompasses a lot of
    voters in southern Brooklyn. For some Israel may have been the issue
    that took them to the polls this year. But what was more significant,
    perhaps, was that a number of voters simply chose to stay home. Was this
    a statement made about Israel? Perhaps for some. But more likely it was
    the feeling that this was a meaningless election for a lame duck seat.

    Turner got less votes in this election than he got last year in the
    general election. Weprin got a lot less votes than Weiner. Weiner was
    very popular. Weprin didn’t excite anyone.

    Did Obama err in making a statement of belief that Israel should retreat to 1967 borders? Yes, absolutely. But that is merely the tip of the iceberg for some, who
    believe that we should never exercise our diplomatic right to express
    discomfort with any action taken by the Israeli government. We have to
    do this, just as other nations (Including many allies) criticize through
    diplomatic statements actions we undertake.

    As you are aware there are many within Israel who also are uncomfortable
    with some of the policies and actions of the government. I’ve been told
    that they are treated with more respect by Israelis that disagree with
    them than by Americans who do not have a personal understanding of what
    is happening there.

    Of course the reality is that most Americans
    have no expressible opinion at all. So trends in politics are usually
    the result of getting a relatively small number of people excited about
    something. Koch did get enough interested enough to vote
    Republican as a protest to give Turner a 6 point majority.
    But that number was small compared to the number of people who felt
    this election, as compared to the last, was of no interest or

  44. Clearly you misread what I said. I didn’t say it scares liberals with an IQ, it scares anyone with an IQ, republicans inclusive. I don’t identify myself as a liberal but the 2008 election is a great indicator of what happens when the GOP nomination process involves the candidates trying to out-stupid each other by shifting their moderate positions further and further right and abandoning their moderate electorate. They’re attempting to appeal to the tea party base, which is why Michelle Bachman is even a contender and not laughed off of the stage for saying stupid shit like the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. They won’t win because the Tea party is an obnoxiously loud minority. The GOP isn’t nominating the cream of the crop, they’re nominating the burned shit stuck at the bottom.

  45. The reason why Congressman Turner won is a combination of many things – there’s no one silver bullet. 

    Disapproval of the Obama administration on Jobs + disapproval of the Obama administration on Israel + Orthodox Jewish discontent with Weprin’s stance on gay marriage + lackluster campaigning by Weprin and his team…

    + (most important in my opinion) writing off Brooklyn. 

    The Brooklyn Dem machine chose to concentrate on their own primary battles and not the 9th Congressional.  Plus, the Brooklyn GOP (of which I’m a part of – full disclosure) did a tremendous job with campaigning, lit-dropping, phone-banking, delivering signs all over, etc.  The result – two-to-one for Turner.  Even beyond my high expectations!

    You wouldn’t believe how many volunteers we have now, how many people are waking up that you need something to counter-balance these corrupt, irresponsible politicians.  And that something is Republican citizen candidates like Bob Turner who are beholden to one for nothing. 


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