Just six months after scoring an unlikely victory in the special election to fill disgraced New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in Congress, Republican Rep. Bob Turner has successfully won a spot on New York’s Republican senate primary ballot to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in November.
Despite throwing his hat into the ring at the very last moment, Turner managed to scrounge up the necessary 25-percent support from county Republican parties at Friday’s New York Republican Party Convention. By doing so, he earned himself a place on the primary ballot alongside two other Republicans: Manhattan Attorney Wendy Long and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos. Long fell just short of the 50-percent support she needed to secure the nomination outright.
“This is happening really quickly,” Turner said in a phone interview with The Daily Caller.
Turner jumped into the race just 72 hours before the convention, after it became clear that he would not likely be able to hold his House seat after redistricting.
Irreconcilable maps drawn by the Democratic-controlled State Assembly and the Republican-controlled State Senate led to the state finally adopting a map drawn by a neutral judge. The resulting map left Turner, already the unlikely representative of a primarily Democratic district, with few options.
“I had planned on defending this seat,” Turner explained. “As of Monday, I was advised that we really didn’t have a district that was defendable.”
“I’ll take a tough fight,” Turner said, but the way the lines were drawn, he not only couldn’t win, “we couldn’t compete.”
“So I’ve been blocked out of the process and the only avenue open, I think, is the Senate if I want to keep the fight going, and I do,” he said.
Turner’s main argument for his candidacy is the high profile he gained after winning last September’s special election, which became a national race as polls tightened and both Democrats and Republicans poured in money. He cited “a recognizable name” as one advantage he holds over Long and Maragos. Turner referred to himself as a “known entity,” something he said would help with fundraising.
He added that he hopes to tap into money from “Wall Street types,” the “Jewish community,” as and out of state money to finance his campaign.
“I have a proven record in taking on a very difficult challenge and succeeding,” Turner said. “I think I have some credibility in a very important community, the Jewish community. The 9th CD [special election] was the first time a Republican had ever won the Jewish vote here, and that’s significant.”
“Also my business background is a little different than the others’. I’ve been in both the media business and worked in raising money financially for my own efforts. I kind of know how business works,” he said.
That high name recognition may be somewhat overstated in New York as a whole. Although Turner pulled off a win in a Democratic-leaning district last year, his golden-boy status does not appear to extend to upstate New York, whose delegations gave Turner only minimal support at the convention.
Turner dismissed those concerns, saying he had pulled off a huge feat just by getting on the ballot, something he had been told “would be almost impossible” entering the race as late as he did.
“Our message was good, we got enough support just to do that [get on the ballot],” Turner said. “I think there are some areas of the state where I have to work a lot harder, but I think there’s a big difference between the party structure and the voters.”
“So I’m hoping, and expecting, that I can get the message out to upstate and downstate and get the job done.”