How Marriage Sunk David Weprin
David Weprin was selected to run for the New York's 9th congressional district special election to the House of Representatives in 2011 following the resignation of Democrat Anthony Weiner. The seat was initially considered safe for Democrats who outnumbered Republicans 3 to 1 in the district. In a shock result, David lost against Republican opponent Bob Turner with 47 percent against Turner's 53 percent. For many, David was seen as the first clear Democratic casualty of gay marriage.
The Jewish vote
On the election trail, the economic collapse and President Obama’s perceived disrespect for Israel were hot topics. It was the latter that persuaded New York mayor Ed Koch to endorse Bob Turner. Dov Hikind, another prominent New York Democrat and a state assemblyman, also crossed party lines to endorse Bob Turner. Hikind believed that it was the issue of same-sex marriage that lost David the election, as the Orthodox Jewish community declared that it is "Assur (forbidden according to Torah law) to vote for, campaign for, fund or otherwise support the campaign of New York State Assemblyman David Weprin." Twenty-nine percent of non-Orthodox Jews also broke party lines to vote for Turner.
The role of gay marriage
A flash survey by the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions and backed Turner with mailings appealing to religious law as well, confirmed gay marriage played a big role in Weprin's defeat, with the majority of respondents being opposed to gay marriage. Eighty-one percent of those who opposed gay marriage voted for Turner, with forty-four percent stating Weprin’s position was a factor in their vote.
Whilst some say that Weprin's vote in favor of same-sex marriage cost him election, since it was legislation opposed by the large Jewish community and Hispanic catholic voters, David stated his belief that President Obama's falling popularity among Queens and Brooklyn voters cost him the election "The message of the campaign was 'Send Obama a message,' … I think the problem was that he's the president and people are frustrated...As much as I tried to make it about David Weprin or Bob Turner, I don't think that resonated to voters. I think that voters looked at it as a referendum on the president."
Turner is also said to have gained votes from his controversial television advertisement showing the twin towers burning on September 11, 2001 and a clip of Weprin stating his support for the right for plans to be submitted for a mosque to be built. His following sentence that he would like to see the project moved further from Ground Zero, a stance taken by numerous city legislators, was edited out.
Turner’s courting of Orthodox Jews, voter dissatisfaction with Obama, Werprin’s support of same-sex marriage legislation and the mass media coverage of Turner’s television advertisement may all have played a part in the election result. However, for many, the election is solely a story of how same-sex marriage sunk David Weprin.