Former Democratic New York Congressman Anthony Weiner may have been able to defend his district from going Republican during his 2010 mid-term re-election against Republican Bob Turner, but that did not mean the New York 9 Congressional District was not already becoming increasingly frustrated with the Obama administration and Democrats on the hill.
A number of clues were sprinkled about within that particular race, which were later ignored by Democrats in the midst of another Weiner re-election in November 2010. I covered the Weiner-Turner race last year. The combination of the power of Mr. Weiner’s incumbency and the fact Mr. Turner made first-timer campaign mistakes helped Weiner immensely but taught Turner how to be a successful candidate for the district the second time around.
Democrats ignored the fact that Weiner had to work harder than he ever had to in past election cycles to beat Bob Turner. I wrote a piece about Weiner’s absence from the district and residents’ negative reaction to him when he was spotted at a Forest Hills fair. Polling of the district showed that an overwhelming majority of independents, who were key in Turner’s victory on Tuesday, were fed up with Democrats.
October 6, 2010 Water Cooler: Rep. Weiner nervous about re-election?
Surprisingly, Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, seems scarily elusive this campaign season. Mr. Weiner has been representing New York’s 9th Congressional District since 1999, and one wonders if frustration with liberal Democrats in Congress may have reached Mr. Weiner’s neck of the woods this time around. Rep. Weiner could very well be facing a tougher re-election cycle against GOP challenger Bob Turner.
“So where is he? I haven’t see him,” asked longtime 9th Congressional District resident from Flushing, Queens Johnathan Halpert of his Congressman on Tuesday, when I asked about his thoughts on Representative Weiner.
Dr. Halpert voted for Mr. Weiner in past elections, but the Congressman has disappointed him this time around. “I’m very much into this election. I haven’t seen one synagogue he’s shown up in.” Dr. Haplert is retired after heading up a non-profit corporation residential program for the handicap. He has lived in the district since 1966.
The Turner campaign later told me that Mr. Weiner couldn’t go around publicly within the district without being chided.
“At the Forest Hills Fair, it looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. A guy had a sign behind him. People were yelling in his face. He was trying to keep his composure,” said a Turner campaign staffer. “He was trying to smile, but he was clearly rattled, and I think he faces that in most areas. He’s facing that in his own home area of Forest Hills, where there are more liberals than anywhere else.”
“I think he’s concerned, and I base it on the fact that he hasn’t been out [in the community] campaigning. That may sound counter-intuitive, because he’d be concerned that he’s not running around, but I think he’s not out there campaigning, because I don’t think he wants people to know he’s out there,” Dr. Halpert said. “I think if he wasn’t afraid, he’d be out there all the time. He loves the limelight.”
A June poll, referenced in the local New York City press, by McLaughlin and Associates revealed the following about Rep. Weiner:
By party, 93% of Republicans and 73% of independents gave the Democrats a negative job rating. 70% of Democrats gave their own party a negative job rating.
Anthony Weiner received a 47% positive job rating and a 36% negative job rating. The positive rating is below the accepted benchmark a safe incumbent should reach on his job approval rating.
It was never a secret that Weiner wanted to be Mayor of New York City at some point. Weiner was well aware of the changing demos in his district and probably wanted to get on to his mayoral run as soon as possible.
October 14, 2010 Water Cooler: Weiner for NYC Mayor?
Questions still remain as to when the Weiner campaign established their campaign headquarters in Queens. The Turner campaign contends that the Weiner campaign began claiming the Forest Hills address as the campaign headquarters only after Mr. Turner called out Congressman Weiner for not having a campaign office in the 9th district but having a campaign office, instead, outside the district in Manhattan.
Furthermore, the Weiner campaign still needs to respond to the photo above that the Turner campaign says it took on Tuesday of the Weiner campaign’s 420 Lexington Avenue office door sign that says “Weiner for Mayor.”
Anthony Weiner dodged Bob Turner’s call for a debate and finally agreed to one after trying to get Turner to debate on the spot at a Turner campaign event. Weiner’s e-mail to his base also sounds like he had a competitive race going on:
October 21, 2010 Water Cooler: Weiner to debate GOP challenger Turner in Queens today
Congressman Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, will debate his Republican challenger Bob Turner this afternoon in Rockaway Beach, New York at a local restaurant. The forum, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways, is the first official debate between the two.
According to the Turner campaign, Mr. Weiner showed up unexpectedly at a campaign event of Mr. Turner’s last Friday and demanded to debate the former television executive on the spot.
Mr. Turner agreed, despite the lack of press presence or that Mr. Weiner’s constituents were not given advanced notice of the event. It seems Mr. Weiner wanted an edge, as he had been ignoring calls for a scheduled debated by the Turner campaign for some time now.
I asked the Weiner campaign if this was a fair campaign tactic, given New York’s 9th Congressional District was generally unaware of Mr. Weiner’s plans to show up spontaneously to talk about issues pertaining to his district. His campaign sent no response back.
Mr. Weiner appears to be scrambling to get out his voter base. A Weiner campaign e-mail with the subject header: “I can’t do this alone people!” was sent out to Weiner supporters on Wednesday. The e-mail goes on to ask supporters to help the Congressman’s campaign via making phone calls, going door-to-door, and stuffing envelopes.
A few days before the mid term elections Bob Turner released internal polls showing he was only four points behind Anthony Weiner. Although this poll did not pan out on election day, the polls ended up becoming more of a predictor of things to come later when an incumbent politcian and a rookie candidate were no longer factors:
October 28, 2010 Water Cooler: Turner internal poll shows GOP’er 4 points behind Weiner
Republican Bob Turner released an internal poll showing that he is about four points behind incumbent Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat. According to the October 10 poll, Mr. Weiner would get 52.31% of the district vote, while Mr. Turner would garner 47.69%.
As I posted previously, Mr. Weiner seemed unusually vociferous towards his Republican challenger this year. The usually liberal district is not a race many believe a Republican can pick up a seat. However, changing demographics in the Brooklyn-Queens neighborhood of New York’s 9th Congressional District have altered some, and the reliable Democratic votes may not necessarily be there. Once again, turn out is key in this race, and if Mr. Weiner can’t fire up his base this may very well be the “sleeper contest” some have called it.
New York’s 9th Congressional mid-term actually was a sleeper contest, regardless of the final results that came in showing Weiner defeating Turner 60 to 40. Weiner should have easily trounced Turner 80 to 20 given Democratic to GOP registrations in CD-9 is 3 to 1. If anything, the mid-term race was a primer for the special election to come and Democrats were sleeping through races.