Bob Turner, a Republican and political novice, has won the special election in New York’s heavily Democratic ninth congressional district in a contest to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner after he resigned in a sexting scandal.
Turner, a retired cable TV executive, ran against David Weprin, a Democrat, with the race morphing into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s economic policies ahead of next year’s elections, the AP reports.
“We’ve been asked by the people of this district to send a message to Washington,” Turner told supporters after the landmark win. “I hope they hear it loud and clear. We’ve been told this is a referendum. Mr. President, we are on the wrong track. We have had it with an irresponsible fiscal policy which endangers the entire economy.”
The district, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is one of the strongest Jewish districts in the nation, CNN reports, and had never sent a Republican to the House.
The race was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats, the Washington Post reports. Even so, National Democrats spent more than $500,000 into their efforts to save the seat, and sent in former president Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the last minute to mobilize voters.
Turner, a former cable TV executive, has vowed to bring business practicality to Washington and push back on spending and taxes.
His campaign scored a boost this summer when former New York City Mayor Ed Koch crossed party lines to endorse the Republican.
The result is seen as a sharp rebuke for Obama over the economy and the president’s position on Israel.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a seven-term Democrat, vacated the seat in June after weeks of pressure over his extramarital activities — namely sending graphic images of his private parts and lewd messages via text to a number of women.