America just took a Turner for the worse
As soon as I was old enough to vote, I started voting for losing candidates. (Way to go, Mark Green.) And though I didn't vote in either of the big special elections in Brooklyn yesterday because I don't live in the districts, I learned this morning that the candidates I would have supported lost.
In Anthony Weiner's old district, Republican Bob Turner beat Democrat David Weprin 54 to 46. Weprin was a John Kerry-like candidate: he didn't inspire your support except by virtue of his opposition—the odious Bob Turner, whose campaign strategy involved vilifying Muslims and homosexuals to exploit the prejudices of the conservative-minded voters. The district might be heavily registered Democratic, but it went 44 percent for McCain in 2008 and 70 percent for Bloomberg the following year. "The district’s Russian and Orthodox Jewish populations have been trending hard to the Republican Party in recent election cycles," the Brooklyn Politics reported, "while the district’s Irish and Italians were already with the GOP."
The national media is portraying the election as a wake-up call for Obama, but an equally valid narrative is that a bunch of old right-leaning Jewish voters were persuaded to vote against gays getting married. Also, Weprin's team ran a terrible campaign.
In Bushwick, Democrat-Republican-Conservative Rafael Espinal beat his two opponents Deidra Towns and Jesus Gonzalez with 44 percent of the vote. Espinal, the chosen candidate of Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez, opposes marriage equality and abortion rights, though those probably contributed less to his victory than the fact that his name appeared all over the ballot, including under both major parties. It's also a testament to the strength of the local machine.
Also, these were special elections in the middle of September, meaning that turnout was lower even than the low turnouts elections usually receive. Anyway, the bad guys won. But what else is new?