When the disgraced Anthony Weiner slithered off the public stage a couple of months ago the prevailing wisdom had Democrats simply naming another candidate who would saunter in and claim a landslide victory over some hapless Republican. Yet few seem to realize Weiner only won the 2010 race against Bob Turner by a 58-42 margin, not exacty a blowout by New York City standards.
Well, Turner is running once again, this time against David Weprin, and the Democrats are becoming very antsy. So naturally they get right into the gutter with their typical tiresome smears.
Nervous state Democrats are flooding voters with mailings blasting Republican candidate Bob Turner in the hotly contested 9th Congressional District, upping the ante in the closer-than-expected race to succeed disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner.
With President Obama’s standing in the polls in free fall, the state Democratic Committee’s mailings to Queens and Brooklyn residents accuse Turner of being a “Tea Party extremist” who wants to dismantle Social Security and Medicare.
Turner struck back with a “robo-call” from former Mayor Ed Koch yesterday, slamming Democratic rival David Weprin for lying to scare senior citizens.
With less than a month to go before the Sept. 13 special election, both sides are turning up the rhetoric after an Aug. 11 Siena College poll found businessman Turner within six points of state Assemblyman Weprin in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one.
Indeed, Weprin should be ashamed, assuming a modern liberal is capable of shame. But this is indicative of Democrats now, all they have left are scare tactics and lies. They cannot defend their record, they have a failed president mired at 36% approval in New York and they’re panicking. Imagine the humiliation of losing a seat held by Weiner and Chuck Schumer before him. It would be a devastating psychological blow.
Meanwhile, in a story in the New York Times discussing the race, Democrat voters in the 9th District can barely conceal their disdain for Obama.
Of all the places to hear fulminations against President Obama, one of the least expected is the corner of 71st Avenue and Queens Boulevard, in the heart of a Congressional district that propelled Democrats like Geraldine A. Ferraro, Charles E. Schumer and Anthony D. Weiner to Washington.
But it was there that Dale Weiss, a 64-year-old Democrat, approached the Republican running for Congress in a special election and, without provocation, blasted the president for failing to tame runaway federal spending. “We need to cut Medicaid,” she declared, “but he won’t do that.” She shook her head in disgust. “He is a moron.”
Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark. I’m not sure what’s more surprising: Seeing the open contempt for Obama or the fact the Times even printed that remark. Turner indicates it’s a recurring theme out on the campaign trail–people just cannot stand Obama.
Frustration with Mr. Obama is so widespread, he explained later, that he tries to limit such rants to about 30 seconds, or else they will consume most of his day.“ It’s endemic in the district,” Mr. Turner said. “You can’t stop them once they get started.”
Indeed, Democrats are fretting that what should normally have been a slam dunk has now become a tight race.
Instead, the race has become something far more unsettling to Democrats: a referendum on the president and his party that is highlighting the surprisingly raw emotions of the electorate. National Democrats, alarmed by a poll that showed the contest far closer than anticipated, are privately fretting that even a close outcome in a working-class swath of Brooklyn and Queens may foreshadow broader troubles for the party in 2012.
If Obama and the Democrats are in trouble in New York then they’re facing a calamity nationwide. Which is quite deserving considering their leader is at historic lows in the polls with little hope in sight.
On Friday morning, Mr. Weprin worked a small crowd inside a senior center in the Howard Beach section of Queens, arriving just as aerobics class was coming to an end.
Some voters assured him that, as the Democrat, Mr. Weprin had their vote. Others seemed skeptical.
“I’m not sure,” said Angelo D’Agostino, a retired firefighter, who steered the conversation to Mr. Obama. “He’s mishandling everything.”
Mr. Weprin urged the crowd to vote, his tone at times pleading.
“Do you know about the election?” he asked a woman sitting in a row of folding chairs.
Leaning in, he cracked a nervous joke. “Your vote,” he told her, “is going to count twice.”
Perhaps he should have also reminded her Turner and the Republicans were going to steal her Medicare and Social Security and she’d be living on the street eating dog food. Or just keep calling him a “Tea Party extremist.” That already appears to be working wonders.
In the end, if the Democrats hold the seat it’ll be because they enjoy a huge advantage in registered Democrats in the 9th District and they’ll have gotten out the vote. If they lose it’ll be a huge embarrassment for Obama and the party.
No wonder they’re freaking out.