Republicans have scored an upset victory in a House race that became a referendum on President Barack Obama’s economic and his anti Israel policies.
Retired media executive and political novice Bob Turner defeated Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin in a special election Tuesday to succeed Rep. Anthony Weiner, a seven-term Democrat who resigned in June after a sexting scandal.
With about 70 percent of precincts reporting late Tuesday, Turner had 53 percent of the vote to Weprin’s 47 percent.
The race was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats, who have a 3-1 ratio registration advantage in the district.
Weprin, a 56-year-old Orthodox Jew and member of a prominent Queens political family, seemed a good fit for the largely white, working-class district, which is nearly 40 percent Jewish.
But voter frustration with Obama put Weprin in the unlikely spot of playing defense. A Siena Poll released Friday found just 43 percent of likely voters approved of the president’s job performance, while 54 percent said they disapproved. Among independents, just 29 percent said they approved of Obama’s job performance.
Turner, a 70-year-old Catholic, vowed to push back on Obama’s policies if elected. He received help from prominent Republicans including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose much-praised stewardship of the city after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was recalled during the 10th anniversary of the attacks last weekend.
Weprin became embroiled in New York-centric disputes over Israel and gay marriage, which cost him some support among Jewish voters.
Orthodox Jews, who tend to be conservative on social issues, expressed anger over Weprin’s vote in the Assembly to legalize gay marriage. In July, New York became one of six states to recognize same-sex nuptials.
Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, endorsed Turner in July as a way to “send a message” to Obama on his policies toward Israel. And Weprin was challenged on his support of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site, in lower Manhattan.