But there were two things happening then that are not the case any longer. Turner cannot run as the anti-Weiner candidate, because Weiner is gone. Turner also does not have the mid-term election wind at his back. What Turner does have, however, are endorsements which are important.
Turner is about to pick up the endorsement of the New York Liberal Party, which is far more pragmatic under its chairman, Henry Stern, than it used to be before 2002. Stern, and the mayor that he served, Ed Koch, support Turner because they like his views on Israel.
The Liberal Party lost its ballot status when Andrew Cuomo, then a candidate for governor, dropped out of the race in 2002. The party had no candidate to capture votes to remain visible on the ballot. The endorsement of this party is still important, however.
Koch and Stern may no longer be very active in government, but they are the types of political gray-beards that you want saying nice things about you. They still know city and national policy better than most of us.
Turner wants to pick up Jewish support in the 9th District, which is important, but the district is also diverse to the point where a candidate cannot focus on only one spot. Getting the nod from Stern and Koch can be turned into something good for Turner, because they are credible when it comes to public policy.
Turner’s recent ad about the mosque near Ground Zero is risky. He wants to show how his opponent, David Weprin, was not a voice opposing the mosque. I am no ad executive, and this was Turner’s career before his foray into politics, so perhaps Turner knows how this will play out. But seeing anything related to that tragic day in an ad still rubs people the wrong way.
Perhaps Turner can turn this campaign into a debate on whether the Obama administration has made Israel less of a priority than past presidents. Without any inside knowledge, I will bet my bottom dollar that Turner is getting minimal support from the GOP in Washington, because the national party rarely helps New York Republicans.
For this reason, Turner can basically run his own campaign and not worry about what John Boehner or anyone else thinks. This could be an advantage for Turner. The Democratic Party might be a little slower to get behind Weprin, since they know the district will be carved up anyway.
Should the polls still show Turner behind by six percent in the next two weeks, there will emerge a national interest in the outcome. If this seat becomes seriously competitive, there will be comparisons with Scott Brown in last year’s Massachusetts special election for the U.S. Senate. But two weeks is a long distance from now in a special election, and Turner is going to need a strong voter turnout.
Why I Still Believe That New Hampshire Matters More Than Iowa
Weeks ago I wrote how the Iowa straw polls are not very important. Now that the Ames Straw Poll has been decided, we know it is true.
Before getting into the results, remember that the showing in Iowa was the second biggest showing in this event, and yet it only attracted 16,000 people. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman Ron Paul finished first and second respectively. Remember that there has not been a member of the House of Representatives elected president since before the turn of the 20th Century, and it is not going to happen this time either.
Ron Paul’s candidacy is like a college right-of-passage. It seems that college students love Paul and his libertarian message, even when Paul goes off the rails. Speaking on Saturday, after finishing second in the Ames Poll, he said that America should not have gone to war, thus having to pay for Bush’s aggressive foreign policy, and that the money should have been spent here at home. Applause! Applause!
But wait a second, he might be right about the foreign involvement, but the last guy willing to spend money “here at home” is Ron Paul. He did not dare say that to those middle-class straw-pollers that a true libertarian would not have reinvested that money into the country. Ron Paul is like the Dennis Kucinich of the right: he is interesting, shoots from the hip, and that is about it. He is the hero of political novices and newcomers.
As for Michele Bachmann, those who think she is a political novice are making a big mistake. She will never be president of the United States, but she is a very well organized politician. She sits on the Intelligence Committee in the House, and that was not by coincidence.
Bachmann does not feel compelled to respond to every single word of criticism that gets levied on her, unlike some other people. Bachmann, however, is way too unelectable, even to win a primary. She will raise money, get attention, and then spiral into the Republican version of Howard Dean.
These polls almost never predict a winner for a party nomination. All one can take from Ames is that a strong finish allows people to raise more money, if only for a short while.