New York – New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) has crossed party lines Wednesday and endorsed Republican businessman Bob Turner over fellow Jewish assemblyman David Weprin (D) in the election to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) congressional seat.
“I am endorsing Bob Turner because he represents the values of this district. I am supporting Mr. Turner because this is a rare opportunity for all those living in the 9th Congressional District, myself included, to send a message to President Obama about his failed, disastrous economic policies and his reckless policies toward Israel.
“Mr. Turner’s background as a businessman gives him a unique advantage in dealing with the major financial crisis in this country. His business acumen will be a welcome asset in trying to reduce the federal deficit.
“I resent the scare tactics and code words being employed by the Democrats to frighten senior citizens and others into believing that Mr. Turner will interfere with Social Security and Medicare. Worrying seniors needlessly is beyond the pale.
“I am a proud Democrat, but am not a blind one. There are times when a candidate of a different party can be more effective for the constituency. The race in the 9th Congressional District has proven to be one of those times. I am, therefore, pleased to support Mr. Turner in his bid for this seat.”
Hikind, a conservative foreign policy hawk who also has a local radio show, is influential in the district’s large Orthodox Jewish community. Has backed Republicans before, endorsing President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection. Mr. Hikind has said he is upset about Mr. Weprin’s vote earlier this year in Albany to legalize gay marriage in New York state—particularly that Mr. Weprin cited his orthodox Jewish faith as a reason to vote for the bill.
Weprin and Turner are in what seems to be a close race in the Democratic-leaning district that encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens. The election is next Tuesday.
The Orthodox Jewish vote is a big wild card. Weprin himself is an Orthodox Jew but has not yet coalesced support around his campaign. The community is more conservative than other Jewish communities around the country, especially on foreign policy and social issues, and tends to vote as a bloc depending on who their leaders support. The district had the biggest swing of any in the country towards Republicans in 2004: After giving Al Gore 67 percent of the vote in 2000, it gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) just 56 percent of its vote in 2004. Obama took 55 percent of the vote in 2008.