With just over a month to go, the campaign to fill the New York congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner has garnered little attention from national media and political figures. That might change in the next few weeks, as the chances grow that the district, previously considered safely Democratic, could go Republican in the September 13th election.
New York’s 9th congressional district, which includes parts of southern Brooklyn and Queens, is is home to a large population of Jewish voters, who historically go to the polls at higher rate than other segments of the population. 70-eight per cent of Jews in the 9th voted for Barack Obama in 2008, bringing his vote total in the whole district to 55%. Weiner himself won re-election in 2010 with 59% of the district’s vote.
But David Weprin, the Democratic candidate to replace Weiner, is losing Jewish support fast, as his Republican opponent tries to portray him as bad for Israel. Despite being an Orthodox Jew himself, who has visited Israel several times, Weprin has been portrayed by his Republican opponent, Bob Turner, who is not Jewish, as a shill for Obama and his anti-Israel policies.
Turner, who was Weiner’s GOP challenger in 2010, was endorsed last month by former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Jewish Democrat, who said Turner’s eliciting would “send a message to Washington that will affect the position of President Obama on Israel.”
“There’s no question that David Weprin is a major supporter of the state of Israel,” Koch said. “But if David Weprin is elected, do you think that sends a message? Do you think Obama’s going to say ‘Oh my god, they’ve repudiated me! They sent David Weprin!’ No.”
The strategy appears to be working. A new poll by the Siena Research Institute shows Weprin leading Turner by just 48% to 42%, a margin thinner than anyone could have imagined seeing in the 9th District just a few months ago.