If the ongoing “Weinergate” story continues to be a media sideshow—and if the ongoing interviews with Rep. Anthony Weiner (D.-N.Y.) continue to yield more questions than answers about the lewd picture on his Twitter account—than the congressman may just be forced to step down from the New York City U.S. House seat he has held since 1998. whether Wiener runs again next year or is forced to step down, it seems a safe bet to say Republicans will make an all-out effort to win New York’s 9th District in 2012.
And could Republicans win it, with or without the embattled Weiner as the Democratic candidate?
“What’s that you’re saying? A Republican winning in New York City? Come on!” exclaimed Barry Farber, dean of New York radio talk show hosts and himself a Republican nominee for Congress back in 1970, when HUMAN EVENTS shared that assessment to him, “Maybe if you were talking about the old ‘silk stocking district’ in Manhattan and this was forty years ago, when [liberal Republican and later New York Mayor] John Lindsay held it, I’d agree. But New York is so Democratic now, the only part of it that will send a Republican to Congress is Staten Island [which elected Republican Michael Grimm as congressman last year]. But Weiner represents Brooklyn, for goodness sake!”
Not exactly. For decades, the 9th District was indeed the Brooklyn district and the fiefdom of such prominent Democrats as Reps. Emmanuel Cellar (1926-72), Elizabeth Holtzman (1972-80), and Charles Schumer, who held the district from 1980 until he went to the Senate in ’98. But recent redistrict has dramatically changed the 9th. It is no longer “the Brooklyn Districtm,” but includes Brooklyn and a very large part of Queens as well. It has large swatches of Russian and Orthodox Jews and a growing Vietnamese community.
The 9th, according to a recent analysis in National Journal, “trended more Republican than any other district in the country from the 2000 to the 2008 presidential election. Al Gore carried the district in a landslide, winning 67 percent of the vote. But it gave John Kerry just 56 percent of the vote in 2004, a striking 11 point dip. The gain was largely attributable to voters’ strong support of George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies post-9/11, but four years later John McCain carried the same 44 percent of the vote as Bush, even as President Obama significantly outperformed Kerry across the country.”
Most dramatically, Weiner—who had always won by margins of 2-to-1—faced the race of his life last year from former TV producer and Madison Avenue ad man Bob Turner. Running as an unabashed conservative on the ballot lines of the Republican and New York Conservative Parties, Turner drew a handsome 42% of the vote.
“And with the problems Weiner is now having, he could be toast,” Mike Long, chairman of the Conservative Party, told HUMAN EVENTS, “The Orthodox Jewish community, which is increasingly conservative but has always stood with Weiner, doesn’t tolerate this kind of behavior. He’s stonewalling the entire story and it has all gotten worse with the news that his [Twitter followers] included a large list of young girls.”
Long and others in New York agreed that Turner’s record Republican showing gave the former “Mad Man” first crack at the Republican and Conservative nominations in ’12. Another intriguing factor is that with the appointment of Democratic Assemblywoman Audrey Pfeffer as Queens County Clerk, there will soon be a special election to fill her 23rd District legislative seat. The Republican and Conservative Parties are already rallying behind District GOP Leader Jane Deacy as their candidate. Although the date of the election has yet to be called, many are predicting that the 23rd District race will be the “dress rehearsal” for an all-out Republican effort to win the 9th District next year, with or without Weiner.
So the “general assumption” has long been that a Republican could never go to Congress in New York City except in Staten Island. That assumption, however, did not factor in the changed political landscape—or “Weinergate.”