By now I’m sure you’ve heard Republican Bob Turner beat Democrat David Weprin last night to represent New York’s Ninth Congressional District. It is a horrible loss for DCCC who spent half a million dollars, on top of the almost a quarter million dollars Weprin spent, trying to keep the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner. While there wasn’t much to celebrate, for the Weprin camp, they still could have picked a better venue for his party.
The Cobblestone’s Pub in Queens is definitely a nice place to watch the Giants and Yankees, but it’s horrible for a political event. The press were given a small area in the back next to being tapped off to getting any of the free kosher food. The cameras were barely able to see the stage. It was so bad I took a picture and put it on Twitter saying “Don’t bother adjusting your TV’s for the Weprin speech, just tilt your head” because there was no way to get a straight angle. The camera for NY1 was right next to the wall, and while they were doing interviews with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, they had to zoom in on her because it was impossible to get both her and the reporter in the same shot.
At ten o’ clock the party was crowded and people were booing former Mayor Ed Koch (who endorsed Turner) on television. I spoke to volunteers and many of them were optimistic because they didn’t see the opposition out their trying to get people to vote. The entire night Quinn remained optimistic not willing to say they lost. I asked her even if Weprin does win would it still be a disappointment for the Democrats because they had to put so much effort into a district that used to be represented by Senator Chuck Schumer? She said “I always thought this was going to be a tough race. I was never under any illusions this was going to be a cake walk or a blowout.”
While we were sitting waiting for the results to come in, David’s brother, Mark, was next to the press wanting to find out the returns as they come in. Around 11pm it was clear David was going to lose and he was surprised that even when they had 1,500 volunteers out there today they were going to lose. I asked what he thought was the major factor and he told me “Dave wasn’t the incumbent but that didn’t help” since his brother was an elected official and no one is happy with any politician right now. He went on to say “People seemed to want to make a statement” and now that we’ve seen the returns it is clear the Republican base was much more excited about this race than Democrats.
By 11:30 the place was only about half full and David Weprin did not get on the stage until midnight. Mark introduced him and Dave thanked all the people who helped him. A couple of other reporters and I rushed out to see if we could talk to him but he rushed out to get into his car as quickly as possible.
Overall the mood was solemn and everyone was just trying to put on as good of a face as they could. But before the returns came in I spoke to a former Weiner staffer, who said she was lucky to have found a job, but said of the night “this sucks.”