BOB TURNER: In NY-9, GOP Listened to Voters – National Review Online
In NY-9, GOP Listened to Voters
Jews and Democrats trusted the Republican and his message.
SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 12:00 P.M.
In Howard Beach, Queens, last night, Bob Turner delivered a very short victory speech to celebrate the end of a very long conservative drought. In around five minutes, he marked the end of 88 years of Democratic dominance in New York’s 9th congressional district.
Soft-spoken but honest and direct, he first attributed his election to the dissatisfaction with President Obama’s “irresponsible fiscal policies” and his “treatment of Israel”: The latter elicited the loudest cheers of his speech. He reemphasized his vocation as a “citizen-candidate” and concluded, “I promised you I’d get to work; I’d better go do that.” That the Irish Catholic Republican stood surrounded by Jewish leaders and Democratic politicians emphasized the improbability of his success: He won by 54 to 46 percent, a miraculous upset in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than three to one.
Turner benefited from desperate dissatisfaction with the Obama administration in decidedly middle-class parts of Brooklyn and Queens. The electorate repeatedly emphasized concern about the state of the economy, high unemployment, and the threats to the survival of Medicare and Social Security. On all of these issues, Turner promised serious and conservative, but not revolutionary, solutions. His opponent, David Weprin, unsuccessfully tried to portray him as planning to cut entitlements for current seniors, sending multiple-page mailings to elderly voters on this theme. Turner maintained, in an impressively disciplined way for a relatively inexperienced politician, that he would preserve benefits for those 55 and older and deal with the actuarial realities without privatizing the programs. His victory in a district with an extremely high proportion of elderly voters indicates that Republicans can speak honestly and still win seniors over.