- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Republican Bob Turner pulled off a stunning upset Tuesday to win a special election to fill the seat vacated by disgraced former Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, reversing decades of Democratic control in the New York City district.

Mr. Turner, who was considered a longshot earlier this summer, was declared the winner of New York’s 9th Congressional District with 53 percent of the vote compared with Democrat David Weprin’s 47 percent, with about 75 percent of the district’s precincts reporting.

The GOP also won in Nevada, where Republican Mark Amodei was declared the winner in a special election over Democrat Kate Marshall in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, a strongly GOP district that has never elected a Democrat.

Mr. Amodei, who held a 20 percentage-point lead over Ms. Marshall with about two-thirds of the precincts counted, will replace former Rep. Dean Heller, who was appointed to the Senate in May after Republican Sen. John Ensign resigned amid a sex scandal.

No Republican has held New York’s 9th since 1923. Less than a year ago, Mr. Turner lost to Mr. Weiner by about 20 percentage points.

National Republican leaders were quick to declare Tuesday’s race results — especially the New York contest — as a referendum on President Obama and his policies.

“Tonight New Yorkers have delivered a strong warning to the Democrats who control the levers of power in our federal government,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. “It’s time to scrap the failed ‘stimulus’ agenda and the misguided policies on Israel and focus on getting America back to creating jobs again.”

“This clear rebuke of President Obama’s policies delivers a blow to Democrats’ goal of making Nancy Pelosi the speaker again,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican.

“New Yorkers put Washington Democrats on notice that voters are losing confidence in a President whose policies assault job-creators and affront Israel.”

In this year’s race, Mr. Weprin had a significantly larger campaign war chest, the firepower of the New York City Democratic Party and an electorate in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 3-to-1.

But despite the advantages, Mr. Weprin trailed Mr. Turner by 6 percentage points in an independent Siena College poll last week — a result that even Republicans would’ve found almost unimaginable only weeks earlier.

Mr. Obama won the district, which includes parts of Brooklyn and Queens, by 11 percentage points in 2008. But dissatisfaction with the president among the district’s mix of socially conservative Catholics and Jewish voters has weighed on the Weprin campaign.

The Turner campaign and the GOP, sensing that Mr. Weprin, a New York state assemblyman, was vulnerable, launched a full attack in the Democratic stronghold.

In an attempt to revive a hotly contested debate from the 2010 elections, the GOP sent district voters a mailer depicting a mosque superimposed over the ground zero site. At the bottom of the card is a head shot of Mr. Weprin and the quote, “I support the right of the mosque to build … .” Mr. Turner, a retired media executive, also ran an advertisement criticizing Mr. Weprin’s position on the mosque debate.

A bevy of political and New York celebrities also have rushed to help Mr. Turner, with real estate tycoon Donald Trump and former New York Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, and Ed Koch, a Democrat, all recording robo-calls on behalf of the Republican.

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