GOP Scores Major Upset in NY-9

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - September 14, 2011

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As the race tightened in recent weeks, both national parties intervened. In the final days of the campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made a half-million-dollar broadcast ad buy on behalf of Weprin. The Democratic House Majority PAC ran ads, too. According to the DCCC’s Jennifer Crider, more than 1,000 Democratic volunteers for Weprin’s campaign in the final week made over 450,000 house and phone calls.

Outside the Fresh Meadows precinct, a couple -- both registered Democrats -- told RCP that they had received an unprecedented number of get-out-the-vote calls from “desperate Democrats.” The calls seemed more impassioned, the observed, “because Democrats feel more threatened and they’ve never felt threatened here before.” The couple said they voted for Weprin.

The National Republican Campaign Committee also sent troops to this district and funneled money into the race when it sensed Turner’s momentum in the past six weeks. Both camps enlisted the help of prominent party players. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani campaigned for Turner on Monday and former president Bill Clinton and popular Gov. Andrew Cuomo recorded robo-calls for Weprin.

Democrats, who had cast Turner as a Tea Party extremist, argued their loss didn’t mean much for the 2012 elections. "Special elections are always difficult -- they are low-turnout, high-intensity races," said New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who chairs the DCCC, in a statement. "The results in NY-09 are not reflective of what will happen in November 2012." It’s true that special elections typically aren’t reliable national bellwethers. But the fact that a little-known candidate with little money could win in this type of district by a considerable margin shouldn’t be ignored.

Turner, though, will likely represent this district in its current form for only a year, as redistricting will eliminate two New York congressional seats and the 9th is on the chopping block. But for the next year, at least, Turner said, “I promise you I will serve the interests of this community, this district. I will tell you the truth.”

Before exiting the stage at his victory party, he reminded his supporters: “Look, guys -- it’s still me, Bob, ya know. I’m still a citizen candidate; don’t forget that. I won’t. I just want to be your guy, your voice.” 

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Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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