MICHAEL BARONE: New York 9: Stunning Repudiation of Chuck Schumer – Campaign 2012
Bob Turner, center, joined by his wife Peggy, right, and family smiles as he delivers his victory speech during an election night party, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in New York. Turner says his shocking win in a heavily Democratic New York City district is a “loud and clear” message to Washington. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York 9: Stunning Repudiation of Chuck Schumer
By Michael Barone
Follow on Twitter:@michaelbarone
Republican Bob Turner has been declared the winner by the Associated Press in the New York 9th district special election. With 82% of precincts reporting, the latest returns show Turner with 53% of the vote and Democrat David Weprin with 46%. Weprin leads narrowly, 51%-48%, in Queens, where 90% of the precincts have reported; Turner leads 69%-31% in Brooklyn, where 66% of the precincts have reported. Thus if the remaining precincts in each borough match existing percentages there, Turner will win by a slightly larger margin than in current returns. This is a big reversal from the 2008 general election, when the 9th district voted 55%-44% for Barack Obama over John McCain.
This is a peculiarly shaped district, with the Brooklyn and Queens portions connected by little more than a strip of shoreline and several island in Jamaica Bay. Many have written that the district has not been carried by a Republican since 1920. This needs a little qualification. The Brooklyn portion of the district is the descendant of districts held by Democrats Emanuel Celler (who won from 1922 to 1970), Elizabeth Holtzman (winner from 1972, when she upset Celler in the primary, to 1978), Charles Schumer (winner from 1980 to 1996) and Anthony Weiner (winner from 1998 to 2010). Celler’s districts tended to run in a narrow corridor from Crown Heights and Brownsville, full of non-affluent Jewish immigrants from the 1910s to the early 1960s) down along Flatbush Boulevard and/or Ocean Parkway to Jamaica Bay. Now the district includes only part of that area. Essentially it includes heavily white (or Asian) neighborhoods not included in the black-majority 10th and 11th districts.
To maintain the population standard, these mostly white portions of Brooklyn have been tied by redistricters to mostly white portions of Queens, including Forest Hills, the home base of Geraldine Ferraro when she was elected from 1978 to 1982, and neighborhoods running east to St. John’s University. These parts of Queens have, I believe, been parts of districts that have elected Republicans as recently as the 1960s (when liberal Republican Seymour Halpern represented much of Queens).