There is a lot of frustration from New Yorkers with President Barack Obama’s presidency, and the recent upset victory by Republican Bob Turner in the 9th Congressional District race this Tuesday is a clear indication of that. But there is a larger, more troubling picture closer to home for Queens Democrats.
Whatever the frustrations with the President may be, The Forum believes any Democrat that emerged from a primary would have beaten Turner. That’s not an attack on Turner or his policies, but a logical look at the demographics of the district.
But of course, there wasn’t a Democratic primary. Congressman Joe Crowley, chair of the Queens County Democrats, hand picked Assemblyman David Weprin for the seat. He made the wrong choice, and this vote shows the growing disconnect between party leaders like Crowley and the Democratic voters.
With the district rumored to be eliminated when district lines are redrawn this year, Crowley picked a safe candidate. One who would not challenge an incumbent Congressman—including Crowley himself—and accept whatever seat or compensation is given once his term was up. Sure there were political considerations involved—the Democrats likely searched far and wide for a likeable Jewish candidate—but the driving force seemed to point to a candidate that was being rewarded for being a loyal soldier, one who would not make noise when he was out of a job in 15 months.
National Democrats, who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race when it became vulnerable, must be furious at Crowley. His candidate failed miserably—Weprin alienated voters by not living in the district and was never considered charismatic guy—and the vaunted Democratic ground game did not get the votes.
We can also see that the Democratic voters in Queens are tired of blindly voting for the candidates with a D next to their name. In the special election for the 23rd Assembly District, Democratic candidate Phil Goldfeder won by an eight-point margin. But Audrey Pheffer routinely won the seat by nearly 20 points in 2010, and in 2008 she destroyed her Republican challenger getting 67 percent of the vote.
National headlines will say voters sent Obama a message. More accurately, Queens has had enough with political cronyism and favoritism that has become the trademark of Crowley’s run at the head of the party.