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POLITICS

GOP Captures Two Special House Elections

Democrats suffered a major blow in two special House election losses Tuesday, leaving the party at a political low point as it gears up for 2012.

Republicans pulled off an upset in New York’s 9th Congressional District, a strongly Democratic seat that should have been an easy hold. And the GOP cruised to an easy win as Mark Amodei won Nevada’s Republican-friendly 2nd District.

The outcome in New York, where Republican Bob Turner prevailed over Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin in the race to replace Anthony Weiner, was particularly crushing. Republicans quickly pointed to it as a rejection of President Barack Obama.

“We have been told this is a referendum,” Turner said in declaring victory. “And we’re ready to say, ‘Mr. President, we are on the wrong track.’”

“We are unhappy, I am telling you, I am the messenger,” Turner said. “Heed us. … We’ve lit one candle today and there’s going to be a bonfire pretty soon.”

Even as the race was called, Weprin arrived at his Forest Hills election night party around midnight and refused to concede.

“This is not over yet,” he said. “It’s going to be a long night.”

Weprin would not take questions, and sped away in a waiting car, with photographers and reporters in pursuit. Aides later said he didn’t know the race had been called at the time, but wouldn’t elaborate further on his plans.

In Nevada, Amodei led Democrat Kate Marshall by more than 20 points when the Associated Press declared him the winner.

“I know Mark to be a solid conservative who believes Nevadans deserve better than the failed ‘stimulus’ policies that have been coming from the Democrats who control Washington,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “Mark will make an immediate impact in our efforts to help create a better environment for long-term, private-sector job growth, and I’m looking forward to having him on our team in the House.”

The night broke a string of special election losses for Republicans, and in a particularly sweet way: Democratic Medicare attacks never caught on as an issue for elderly voters in Nevada like they did in an upstate New York special election earlier this year, and the GOP stole an unexpected win in the Empire State, where it’s endured a number of special election defeats. Turner’s star rose in part because of unrest with Obama’s Israel policy among Jewish voters.

“It was all Obama — not even a thought of anything else,” Turner consultant Steve Goldberg said.

As polls released just before Election Day showed Turner with the advantage, many Democrats tried to downplay the race’s implications, already hedging for a loss. They continued doing so Tuesday night.

“Special elections are always difficult — they are low-turnout, high-intensity races,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “The results in NY-09 are not reflective of what will happen in November 2012 when Democratic challengers run against Republican incumbents who voted to end Medicare and cut Social Security while protecting tax loopholes for big corporations and the ultra wealthy.”

“Special elections are always difficult — they are low-turnout, high-intensity races,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “The results in NY-09 are not reflective of what will happen in November 2012 when Democratic challengers run against Republican incumbents who voted to end Medicare and cut Social Security while protecting tax loopholes for big corporations and the ultra wealthy.”

Other Democrats found plenty of sources for gloom and doom, including the district’s Catholic population.

“If [Obama] can’t win Catholics in Democratic New York, how are you going to win Catholics in Missouri and across the country?” said New York City Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.

Reports on Tuesday indicated a low-turnout affair in New York, adding to Democratic anxiety that conservative Jewish voters motivated to send Obama a message on Israel and the economy — were coming out in disproportionate numbers. Democrats had staked their hopes on the powerful Queens County Democratic Party machine, which was working at full-speed to contact voters and ensure they made it to the polls.

Democrats saturated the district with robo-calls from former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the race neared the home stretch. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rushed into the fray with late-game TV ad buys in New York’s expensive media market, as did House Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC.

But Weprin hurt himself in the weeks prior to Election Day, bowing out of a campaign debate and citing Hurricane Irene for his absence after it had already passed, among other missteps.

Republican leaders were careful not to declare victory prematurely.

“Today is the day we have a chance to win in New York,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions told House Republicans during a conference-wide meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, according to a GOP aide familiar with the remarks. “But let’s hold our powder. Let’s not declare victory. Let’s have discipline and wait and see what voters do.”

But other Republicans insisted that even coming close in such a heavily Democratic district would be a win in its own right.

“There’s no mistaking the fact that there clearly is a message being sent here by the Jewish community in this district,” said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Committee, which launched a direct mail campaign in the district. “Nobody can accuse the Republicans of stacking the deck and picking a favorable district to draw lessons from. This is one of the top Jewish districts in the country and it’s overwhelmingly Democratic.”

“Win or lose, Barack Obama’s Israel policies are gonna take a hit,” former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told POLITICO.

It was a much different story in rural Nevada, where Amodei had been expected to cruise past Marshall. Republicans entered Election Day with a wide lead in early voting. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s organization never ramped up on Marshall’s behalf. And while GOP groups spent about $1 million on TV and mail in the district to define Marshall early, the DCCC never spent any money on TV.

via Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman, POLITICO

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “GOP Captures Two Special House Elections

  1. How incredible. Could it be that Americans are finally waking up to reality !?

    Posted by Vadim | September 14, 2011, 1:12 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Democrats becoming a party of ideology, not reason « Middle Ground View - September 14, 2011

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