When Gerrymandering Bites Back: Weiner scandal and the Dems’ loss of NY’s 9th District

last updated at 2011.09.19.2152z

Michael Barone, often cited as America’s most knowledgeable political analyst, has a very interesting post up at the Washington Examiner about the election of Bob Turner to replace ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner, nudist Twitterer, to represent New York’s 9th Congressional district:

September 14, 2011 1:17am
NY-9: Stunning Repudiation of Chuck Schumer
by Michael Barone

Republican Bob Turner has been declared the winner by the Associated Press in the New York 9th district special election. With 82% of precincts reporting, the latest returns show Turner with 53% of the vote and Democrat David Weprin with 46%.


This is a peculiarly shaped district, with the Brooklyn and Queens portions connected by little more than a strip of shoreline and several islands in Jamaica Bay. Many have written that the district has not been carried by a Republican since 1920. This needs a little qualification. The Brooklyn portion of the district is the descendant of districts held by Democrats Emanuel Celler (who won from 1922 to 1970), Elizabeth Holtzman (winner from 1972, when she upset Celler in the primary, to 1978), Charles Schumer (winner from 1980 to 1996) and Anthony Weiner (winner from 1998 to 2010). Celler’s districts tended to run in a narrow corridor from Crown Heights and Brownsville, full of non-affluent Jewish immigrants from the 1910s to the early 1960s) down along Flatbush Boulevard and/or Ocean Parkway to Jamaica Bay. Now the district includes only part of that area. Essentially it includes heavily white (or Asian) neighborhoods deliberately excluded from the black-majority 10th and 11th districts.

To maintain the population standard, these mostly white portions of Brooklyn have been tied by redistricters to mostly white portions of Queens, including Forest Hills, the home base of Geraldine Ferraro when she was elected from 1978 to 1982, and neighborhoods running east to St. John’s University. These parts of Queens have, I believe, been parts of districts that have elected Republicans as recently as the 1960s (when liberal Republican Seymour Halpern represented much of Queens).

There are growing Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the district, especially in Brooklyn, and Turner seems to have carried Orthodox Jews by a wide margin over Weprin, who is an Orthodox Jew himself. Primary reason, it appears: to protest Barack Obama’s policies and actions toward Israel. As others have pointed out, these relatively middle-scale (as opposed to upscale or downscale) Outer Borough Jews are not typical of affluent Jews in Manhattan or high-income suburbs, and so there is limited precedental value here for other districts.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Personally, I find this result under these circumstances politically more encouraging than the recent Obamamaniacs’ ludicrous and unintended attempt at “black humor” with their creation and posting of the web site Attack Watch. Perhaps their desperation is showing. If not, something is.

But working-class Jews voting Republican? That is revolutionary. However, I must concur with Mr. Barone’s assessment that it’s unlikely NYC elites will likewise come to their senses. Also, former NYC mayor Ed Koch may even go to work in Miami promoting GOP candidates as he did in the 9th district contest. Wonders never cease.

Here’s Bob Turner’s victory speech overflowing with unbounded enthusiasm by his new constituents imbued with a burning desire to “send a message” to Washington. A bit long, but burden lifting:

Wonder if the Obamameister is listening?

Barone’s half-hearted paean to Chucky Schumer at the end of the post is, however, not quite so encouraging:

This vote is a startling repudiation of those policies by just the voters Schumer was hoping to win over. I write this without any rancor for Chuck Schumer. I admire his intellect, I admire his capacity for hard work and while I think he often acts to gain partisan advantage I think it must also be said that he tries to achieve good public policy results. He has risen from a modest background (he is a graduate of James Madison High School in Brooklyn, the alma mater also of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Senator Norm Coleman: a pretty impressive record for a non-selective high school serving a non-affluent neighborhood) and has not gotten where he is because of personal wealth (he has none) or overpowering personal charm.

Schumer will surely continue to serve as senator as long as he wants (since direct election of senators came in, no incumbent Democratic senator from New York has been defeated for reelection). But his project of forging a Democratic governing majority based on successful public policies took a severe beating in this special election.

Guess Mr. Barone doesn’t want to mess with Sen. Schumer any more than one should with Leroy Brown:

Ya think? But then, Leroy didn’t end up doing so well after all, did he?


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