Former Mayor Ed Koch bucked his own party in endorsing Republican Bob Turner Monday and not state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) to replace former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner in September’s special election, saying he wanted to “send a message” to President Barack Obama that voters in the district disapprove of his policy toward Israel.
“I disagree with [Obama] on the way he views the state of Israel,” Koch said Monday at Turner’s Howard Beach campaign office. “I want to send a message that’s not the vision that New Yorkers and Jewish [and] Christian supporters of Israel want.”
Koch, 86, was referring to Obama’s condition that Israel agree to go back to its pre-1967 war borders as part of negotiations with the Palestinians.
Weprin also disagrees with Obama on that issue, but the former mayor said sending a Republican to Congress will have more of an effect when voters do not agree with the president’s policies.
“There’s no question that David Weprin is a major supporter of the state of Israel. If David Weprin is elected, you think that sends a message? You think Barack Obama is going to say, ‘Oh, my God! David Weprin was elected. They’re repudiating me?’” Koch said. “It’s my expectation that the voters of the 9th C.D. … will use [the special election] to send a message to both the Democratic Party and to the Republican Party and its leadership,” Koch said. “And that’s why I’m supporting Bob Turner.”
Although Koch referred to himself as a “dedicated Democrat,” it is not unusual for him to endorse a Republican.
He said choosing not to back Weprin was “very painful.
“I like him. I’ve supported him on a number of occasions. I know that David is never going to forgive me, but I’m sorry. Sometimes an issue is more important than a candidate and more important than me.”
Koch previously supported then-President George W. Bush for a second term and backed former Republican Mayors John Lindsay and Rudy Giuliani.
Turner said he believed Koch’s backing “will be the highlight of this campaign” and said he thought the endorsement would propel him to victory.
“My contribution [to Congress] I hope will be to bring a practical business sense to Washington,” he said.
The former mayor said he wanted the election to be a referendum on Obama’s policies.
“I believe there could be no better opportunity to make it into a referendum that existed in Massachusetts,” Koch said, referring to the election of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who shocked the political establishment by succeeding the late Sen. Ted Kennedy after a 2010 special election contest following Kennedy’s death.
Also this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went on the attack against Turner after he wrote in an op-ed that he wants to “end government dependencies” and cut the federal budget by up to 35 percent.
The DCCC, which was speaking on behalf of Weprin, accused Turner of “holding firm on his Tea Party principles.”
The committee said the budget plan offered by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a proposal that ends Medicare and makes cuts to Medicaid and Social Security, does not meet Turner’s “radical goals.”
In a July 8 op-ed column in the National Review, Turner said he wanted to be in Congress “to fix what’s broken and go home.
“End subsidies. End government dependencies. Dramatically cut the budget by 30 or 35 percent. Slash capital gains taxes down to zero. Cut taxes across the board,” Turner wrote.
“It’s clear that Bob Turner simply believes that the Ryan plan is just a ‘starting point’ because his stated goals require cuts much deeper than the Ryan plan can provide,” said Josh Schwerin, the DCCC’s northeast spokesman. “Turner’s goal of cutting 35 percent of the nation’s budget while ending all ‘government dependencies’ means the end of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Turner’s statement that no one wants to cut anything is laughable. What’s next, will he close the deficit by trying to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge?”