Those who will claim last night was a loss for Vito Lopez are not without an argument.
Bob Turner’s extraordinary two to one victory in the 9th District’s Brooklyn portion (Weprin eked out a small victory in Queens) was the story of the election, but from the beginning, thoughtful observers (defined here as me and Colin Campbell) knew Turner was going to win Brooklyn.
As the coach noted in Chariots of Fire, one can’t put in what God left out.
Maybe a flawless and relentless Brooklyn operation could have yielded Weprin 40% there, but it was not going to do much better in the current climate, and would probably not have won there even in a better one.
Anyway, Vito won the races he cared about, and won them convincingly (Assembly candidate Rafael Espinal) or big (Civil Court candidate Sharen Hudson).
Further, it was a bad night for Ed Towns.
It will take an ED by ED analysis to determine whether Deidra Towns actually carried the 1/3 portion of the 54th AD where her father is the Congressman—at 23%, that seems unlikely, but not impossible—but the showing is bound to hurt the perception of Towns’ strength, and badly, no matter what the truth.
Though one should keep in mind that Towns’ next battle will not be in Brooklyn, but in Albany, and it is possible that redistricting will put in what God left out (or make things even worse).
As to the Congressional race, Azi’s analysis, though far from flawless, provides a good springboard for discussion. So here goes:
Which is not to say Turner ran a flawless campaign, but as a longshot underdog, the clumsiness of his gestures and inconsistencies in his positions never seemed to matter.
Turner was opposed by the Queens Republican County organization, and only got the party's nod after Conservatives and Republicans in Brooklyn insisted on it. Turner's shameless use of the "mosque on Ground Zero" commercial was a rehash of a year-old debate that had long been settled. He also did not denounce supporters who criticized Weprin for voting for same-sex marriage, even though Turner himself said that shouldn't be an issue.
And there's the whole tax-loophole statement he made.
Part of the reason Turner’s inconsistencies did not matter is that people like Azi decided that they didn’t.
When Turner admitted that articles he had written less than two months before were “pandering” to far right and Tea Party supporters, no one in the press was interested in making that the narrative. Statements Turner made in which his mask as a moderate fell, revealing the truth, were treated as examples of his puckish humor.
By contrast, Weprin’s brainfart about the size of the deficit was allowed to be defined as defining by the people who determined the definitions.
But Azi misses another point. Thing like Turner’s shamelessness about the “Ground Zero Mosque” and his failure to denouncing queer-bashing done on his behalf were not errors; they were strategic assets.
Paybarah then focusses on the Democrats’ purported errors.
He held the seat for seven terms and made it look easy. His won his "close" race against Turner in 2010, a bad year for Democrats, by about 20 points. He was damaged by his scandal, to the point where his hopes for mayor were shot. But maybe he could have held on to his House seat. We'll never know.
This was an error, and I said it from the start.
But the truth is even if Weiner chose to serve out his term, we never would have known. His district was probably going bye bye regardless.
Picking Weprin (as opposed to, say, Rory Lancman or Liz Holtzman)
Weprin appeared to be a good choice on paper. But in retrospect, Lancman would have been a strong choice, with a proven record of being shameless on the matter of Obama and Israel (though such a campaign would have been hard for the national Party to swallow).
As to Holtzman, a Boerum Hill resident who blamed Israel and Zionists for the war in Iraq, the only asset she presented for the Democrats is that she was such an awful candidate that no one right now would be blaming the President (who is several degrees to here right on Israel) for her better than two to one loss.
Not going after Turner sooner
Though I’m not sure the press would have cared or even noticed, the failure to define Turner early as what his substantial paper trail showed he was, allowed Turner to be instead defined (falsely) by Ed Koch.
Not effectively countering the Ed Koch-Israel complaint
The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem should have been brought in earlier, but as I’ve noted before, a lot of Jews would have voted for Ron Paul against Dov Hikind to send the President a massage.
And despite the tendency of observers on all sides to minimize the issue, the Public Policy Polling survey showed:
The issue of Israel does appear to be having a major impact on this race. A plurality of voters- 37%- said that Israel was 'very important' in determining their votes. Turner is winning those folks by an amazing 71-22 margin. With everyone who doesn't say Israel is a very important issue for them Weprin actually leads 52-36. Turner is in fact winning the Jewish vote by a 56-39 margin, very unusual for a Republican candidate. This seems to be rooted in deep unhappiness with Obama on this issue- only 30% of voters overall approve of how he's handling Israel to 54% who disapprove and with Jewish voters his approval on Israel is 22% with 68 of voters disapproving. That has a lot to do with why Turner's in such a strong position.”
But all this ignores Koch’s more important impact.
Koch basically led Turner by hand on Social Security and Medicare. Pre-Koch, Turner had refused to commit on the Ryan plan.
And once Koch delivered his endorsement, Koch’s repeated insistence that the Democrats’ accurate descriptions of where Turner stood were lies, gave Turner credibility on those issue with voters who did not give a damn about Israel.
This was the problem the Democrats never overcame.
Weprin's interview with the religious outlet was not helpful to him among its Orthodox readers, who already disapproved of Weprin's vote to legalize same-sex marriage, and it also alienated liberals who supported him for it. The outlet speculated about whether legislative rules were broken when the State Senate quickly voted on the bill. Weprin said he was unsure but agreed that maybe it should be looked into.
Not really—even more than his vote for Same Sex Marriage, Weprin’s problem was a rather courageous speech he gave in Albany citing why he, as an Orthodox Jew, could vote for the bill.
Some liberals were temporarily alienated by the interview, but there is little evidence that gay voters (a major factor here only in Forest Hills) held it against him in the end (perhaps not the best choice of words).
Not showing up to the Juniper Park Civic Association's debate and blaming it on a hurricane that had already passed was just silly.
My suspicions here that Weprin’s advisors and consultants were behind this one. This bodes ill for the “Weprin is to blame” theory only in that there is no doubt that no matter who was the nominee, Joe Crowley was going to force them to hire the same consultants.
Given the direction of the coverage, and the intent of the Daily News to bury both the Brooklyn and Queens Party bosses, if there was no debt gaffe, the Daily News was surely going to find one and make it defining.
I would argue that Turner’s gaffes were even more defining, but I don’t buy newsprint by the ton. However, it is clear that a less gaffe prone candidate than Weprin would have been helpful.
Weprin and his aides never felt comfortable associating their candidate with their party's leader, so they sacrificed a chance to appeal to their base without placating any of the "send a message" voters."
Can someone please show me exactly where in the 9th Congressional District the "Democratic base" lives?
Anyway, if the left blogosphere is any indication, the evidence indicates that the "Democratic base" ain't that crazy about Obama either.
Not getting Cuomo, personally
One wonders whether this was an error by the campaign, or a decision by the Governor.
Banking on the Brooklyn Democratic organization
See my opening remarks.
The DCCC and organized labor eventually got activated for Weprin, but not soon enough. One Democratic operative in the district said the voters they were reaching didn't have any voter fatigue. In this case, it was a very bad sign.
As noted in this link, I’ve been screaming since before Weiner resigned that this was a marginal seat requiring attention. By the time the DCCC and unions did get in, it was way too late.
Further, as I noted the other day, the help was not only late but often clueless. Here is what one consultant told me:
He is a victim of political malpractice even if by some chance he wins. Weprin's Times endorsement TV spot says "Hey New York City" not Queens and Brooklyn (and does not have a Map where district is) and has scenes of Manhattan - not anything that looks like neighborhoods in district and is positive Weprin when the Times beat up on Turner. Bit late for positives when Turner is busy increasing Weprin's negatives. And I am not mentioned the pulled DCCC spot with the airplane buzzing Manhattan and the other very very soft spot with the 1776 character.
With a 54/46 blowout, I’m not sure that anyone could say a better candidate would have mattered, and a better local consultant was not happening under these conditions.Earlier and better intervention might have saved this race from a loss which revealed the real truth, which is that the President, and Democrats in general, are in trouble.
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