Bob Turner scored an upset victory over David Weprin in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner in NY-09 last night. This is the first time that New York City has two Republicans representing it (Michael Grimm on Staten Island is the other) since the 1990s. Turner held his own in the heavily Democratic Queens section of the district and destroyed Weprin in Brooklyn. With a few precincts left to be counted, Turner leads 54-46. Weiner took this seat 60-40 over Turner in the last election in 2010.
People are straining for rationales to this one, but I think it’s pretty simple – the election took place in an environment with a very unpopular Democratic President. That popularity may be in the midst of bouncing back after the jobs address, but that was too late to save Weprin. There’s something of a curse over New York State Assemblymen who run for Congress in special elections, and Weprin proved to be just as bad a candidate as Jim Tedisco, Dede Scozzafava and Jane Corwin. And there was a message sent to the President on Israel – even though the President has been fairly staunchly on Israel’s side, as the imminent veto of Palestinian statehood at the UN Security Council will show, and Weprin is even further in Israel’s pocket. But overall, this is an angry electorate lashing out at the President three years into his term with a sick economy.
That’s also true of the other special election for the night, in NV-02, which should cause more concern for Democrats. NY-09 will be dissolved, and there are micro-communities there that don’t mirror the country at large. But NV-02 covers a significant portion of a swing state, Nevada, that President Obama won in 2008 and hopes to win in 2012. And Mark Amodei just blew out Kate Marshall by 22 points, with pretty heavy turnout for a special election. Amodei got almost 75,000 votes, to Marshall’s 46,600. He even comfortably took Washoe County, the main population center around Reno.
It’s true that Democrats never gave this race a chance, conserving cash that they eventually used in NY-09 to no avail. But this is a complete destruction, in 1/3 of the state Obama needs to pick up next year. If you’re looking for bad signs, I would turn to NV-02, not NY-09.