EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is available exclusively through United Media. For permission to reprint or excerpt this copyrighted material, please contact Carmen Puello at [email protected].
It’s a wild political climate out there. In keeping with the blistering heat afflicting previously ultra-safe incumbents, a happily retired Queens businessman by the name of Bob Turner thinks he can unseat his Democratic congressman, six-term representative Anthony Weiner. It’s a long shot, but crazier things have happened. Just ask Sen. Scott Brown.
Running for office was the farthest thing from Turner’s mind when he was watching Weiner on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show one March night. But, as Democrats were forcing their unpopular health-care revolution through, Weiner didn’t even have the decency to answer his interviewer’s questions. Weiner’s “dodging” made Turner “hostile.” So he went to his neighbor, Michael Long, who happens to be chairman of the Conservative party in New York, and asked, “To whom do I send a check?” No one, was the answer. There was no one challenging Weiner. So Turner pressed on, asking what could be done about that. Long sketched out prerequisites — “someone who isn’t working,” “someone who has enough coin to start the ball rolling.” Turner asked his wife of 46 years, Peggy, what she’d think of his running for Congress. A talk-radio junkie, the special-needs nurse immediately became his biggest cheerleader: She was in a state of outrage about the undemocratic transformation going on before her eyes. And so “Bob Turner for Congress” was born.
Turner, who spent 40 years in media and business, is determined: writing his own policy statements, doing his own media, demonstrating hard work on the campaign trail. The “business background helps,” he says, in his effort to get voters to know someone is running against Weiner at all, and that this someone has a name and a mission. His campaign “is not a gesture,” he insists. He’s in it to serve as congressman. “Plan A is to win. Plan B is to team up with likeminded people once I get to Washington.” Deeply worried about the unsustainability of federal spending, as well as the national-security and moral threats to our future, he wants Washington to make sense.
Turner is convinced that this zeal — stirred in him by Weiner — is shared in the Ninth District of New York (and around the country). Brooklyn and Queens may not seem like prime tea-party territory, but they’re living in the same country, feeling the same economic and other frustrations the most pro-Palin tea partier is feeling. The watchword of Turner’s campaign: “grassroots.” He’s got outdoor advertising and mailings planned, but he insists that the core of the campaign is going to be getting a “buzz” started at kitchen tables around the district with phone calls, knocking on doors, and new media.
He realizes that this is a David-and-Goliath battle, though. He jokes that once Weiner realizes people are on to him, the congressman will have Barbra Streisand serenading his constituents as his Hail Mary pass.