- (Photo: Reuters / Brendan McDermid)
Tuesday's New York special election for former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat may be an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats alike to express their disenchantment with President Obama’s economic politics, which could result in a landmark victory for GOP candidate Robert Turner.
New Yorkers in congressional District 9 are heading to the polls to elect a replacement for Weiner after his resignation over inappropriate pictures and messages he sent via Twitter.
Turner, a businessman and the Republican contender, told reporters this morning that he expects to win.
"We have the momentum going with us," he proclaimed. He also predicts that the election is going to be "a referendum on President Obama's policies."
Turner has strong voter support going into the election. A Siena College poll released last Friday shows that Turner has taken a 50-44 percent lead over Democrat David Weprin, an assemblyman in the New York state Assembly.
Democrats maintain that the poll simply reflects the fact that Weprin ran a disorganized campaign.
Weprin once misstated the size of the federal deficit and incorporated 9/11 scenes in his campaign ads after criticizing his opponent for doing the same thing.
Bill de Blasio, a New York City public advocate and a Weprin supporter, told reporters Monday that the Siena poll does not account for Democrats who will turn out to support their party.
Werpin's brother, New York City Councilman Mark Werpin, told Politico, "We're going to win on the ground, we're going to beat them on the ground."
However, Republicans are not expecting Weprin to win today, declaring New Yorkers are fed up with Democratic leadership.
Ryan Tronovitch, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, re-tweeted polling from the Public Policy Polling (PPP) showing that Obama's job approval in New York's District 9 is 31 percent while 56 percent disapprove. These numbers, he says, are "amazingly bad in a district where he won 55 percent of the vote."
District 9 is traditionally a heavily Democratic area and has not elected a Republican to Congress in 88 years. But the heavily Jewish District may now be willing to align with Republicans in light of the president's widely-opposed proposal that Israel return to its 1967 borders.
In a move that shows how frustrated some Jewish residents are with Obama, Democratic former New York City Mayor Ed Koch crossed lines to endorse Turner.
"This president has been less friendly than any president in memory [to Israel] and I think today voters can get him to account for that," Turner said.
Though Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, has tried to distance himself from the president, he has stated that he would support Obama in a re-election bid. This position elicited some boos during a Sept. 6 Queens debate.
With the presidential disapproval rate so high, RNC officials believe they have a real chance to flip New York in this election and possibly in the 2012 race for the White House.
PPP President and CEO Dean Debnam also acknowledged, "If Republicans win this race on Tuesday, it's real world evidence of how unpopular Barack Obama is right now."
He continued, "Approval polls are one thing but for the GOP to win in a heavily Democratic district like this would send a strong message about how unhappy voters are."
A concerned Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has sunk over $500,000 into television ads in the hopes of energizing its base. The Hill reports that outside Democratic group House Majority PAC also spent $100,000 on the election.
Only time will reveal whether or not those efforts have been successful.
Turner cast his ballot at St. Thomas More Gymnasium this morning. He told the New York Daily News that he has a quiet day scheduled. Meanwhile, Weprin plans to visit New York subway stops and senior centers.
Polls close at 9 p.m. EST and results will most likely start coming in an hour to two hours later.