House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tamped down on expectations Tuesday that Republicans will win a special election for the seat formerly held by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), arguing that the Brooklyn/Queens district has long backed Democrats.
But if businessman Bob Turner (R) does prevail at the polls, Boehner said, the message will be a clear one: Voters are unhappy with President Obama’s leadership on the economy.
“There are a couple of special elections today, and when the results come in tonight, we can be happy or we can be sad,” Boehner said at a news conference in the lobby of the Republican National Committee after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans.
“We’ve got a great candidate in New York. But this is a very serious Democratic district once represented by Anthony Weiner, also represented by Chuck Schumer, and also represented by Geraldine Ferraro,” he said. “So I don’t think Republicans have any right to think that we can win. But we do have a good candidate. I think it’ll be a close race.”
Recent polls have showed Turner poised to eke out a win over Assemblyman David Weprin (D).
Asked what the message will be if Republicans win, Boehner pointed to the sluggish economy and said that he is hopeful that both parties can work together to address the country’s unemployment crisis.
“I think the American people are concerned about our economy,” he said. “And the uncertainty out there, what I’ve seen over the last six or eight weeks, a lot of that uncertainty is turning to certainty, and the certainty is resulting in fear. ... As we get to this conversation with the president about how we help our economy, I hope he’ll listen to our ideas, and I hope that he’ll work with us to find common ground to get our economy moving and create jobs again.”
But as The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes, it’s dangerous to read too much into any one special election. Just four months ago, Democrats claimed that Rep. Kathy Hochul’s (D) win in an Upstate New York district was a referendum on House Republicans’ plan to overhaul Medicare. And while Republicans could seize on a win in Weiner’s former district as a sign that the electorate is deeply dissatisfied with Obama, the volatility of the national environment – as well as the disapproval ratings of Obama and Congress – make it difficult to predict.