He may be one of the Empire State’s leading Democrats, but former New York City mayor Ed Koch will be endorsing the GOP candidate to fill the seat in Brooklyn and Queens vacated by Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Koch announced on Monday that he would be throwing his considerable political weight behind Bob Turner. The former mayor made no bones about his motivation for breaking with his party of choice in the 9th congressional district special election. It is to cast the predominantly Jewish district as a referendum on President Obama’s policies on Israel.
Still angry over Obama’s May speech, in which the president proposed a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders, Koch said in a statement that Obama is “willing to throw [Israel] under the bus,” adding:
The election of Bob Turner in a normally safe Democratic district running against President Obama’s position on Israel … would send a message to his own party leadership as well as to President Obama.
This is not the first time Koch has cross party lines. He backed George W. Bush’s campaign for reelection in 2004, and was behind Rudolph Giuliani first run for the mayoralty of New York.
Turner’s pledge to avoid cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security has made it easier for Koch to back him in his congressional bid. Turner’s position on these issues, announced last week, shocked many conservatives, who were accustomed to thinking of him as a darling of the Tea Party.
Even with Koch’s support, Turner is likely to face an uphill struggle against the candidate selected by the Democrats, David Weprin. Apart from being an orthodox Jew, which should help dilute some of the antipathy to Obama’s position on Israel that Koch hopes to stir up, Weprin will be taking up the mantle of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was well-liked. In fact, Weiner defeated his Republican challenger in 2010 by a margin of 61% to 39%. The name of that challenger? Bob Turner.
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