Almost three months to the day after the disgraced Democratic congressman from New York slipped out of public view — resigning his seat amid revelations about online dalliances with women who weren’t his wife — Republican Bob Turnerclaimed a special-election victory in the district that Weiner had held for more than a decade.
The loss was devastating for Democrats on several levels.
First, it was avoidable. The district, which includes portions of Brooklyn and Queens, had been in Democratic hands for the past eight decades. And not just any Democratic hands — party luminaries such as Sen. Chuck Schumer and Liz Holtzman had held the 9th before Weiner. Barack Obama carried it by 11 points in 2008; Al Gore won it with 67 percent of the vote in 2000.
Second, it came at the worst possible time for a party in turmoil. Congressional Democrats were already growing skittish about the impact that the weak economy and an unpopular president might have on their own reelection prospects in 2012. The loss of what should have been a safe seat sent some of them over the edge — even as the party leadership tried to assure them that everything was going to be just fine. (Trust us!)
Blame sprayed like machine gun fire: President Obama, for not being more popular in a district packed with Orthodox Jews who dislike his position on the boundaries of Israel. Democratic nominee David Weprin for being a bad candidate (not to mention a terrible dancer ). Former New York City mayor Ed Koch (D) for endorsing Turner to send a message to national Democrats.
And, last but not least, some blamed Weiner, whose conduct, Democrats argued, had poisoned the well among even party loyalists.
Anthony Weiner, for watching as Republicans made you part of history, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
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