claimed victory just after midnight Wednesday in a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, but state Assemblyman ’s camp had yet to concede the race.
Turner, a Breezy Point businessman who previously ran against Weiner in 2010, was leading Weprin 53 percent to 47 percent, a spokeswoman for the city’s Board of Elections said.
“We seek leadership and direction in returning prosperity and finding jobs for the people in this district,” said Turner, who would be the first Republican elected in the district in nearly 90 years, during his victory speech. “I’m telling you, I am the messenger.”
Just after midnight, Turner received a congratulatory phone call from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH.
As of 1 a.m., Turner had 32,212 votes and Weprin had 27,460 with 98 percent of the vote counted, the Board of Elections spokeswoman said.
“This is not over yet,” Weprin said. “It’s going to be a long night.”
While Weprin wasn't ready to give in, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel struck a conciliatory note in a statement.
"I want to thank David Weprin for his tremendous effort. David is a dedicated public servant committed to strengthening Medicare, creating jobs, and protecting the middle class," Israel said. “Special elections are always difficult — they are low turnout, high intensity races.”
Thomas Reilly, a doctor from Woodhaven who turned out for Turner’s election night party in Howard Beach, said he was thrilled that the Republican would be heading to Capitol Hill.
“He’s a truly decent family man, and this is what we need in Washington,” he said. “We need someone who has common sense. This, I think, is a wake up call to Barack Obama.”
Democrats have previously held a strong registration advantage in the district, which is filled with low-income and middle class families as well as large pockets of densely Jewish neighborhoods.
In June, Weiner resigned following a that began after he accidentally sent a sexually suggestive photo to a woman through his Twitter account.
The race for Weiner’s seat focused primarily on three topics: the economy, U.S. support for Israel and President Barack Obama.
Throughout the race, Turner played up his business background, including his stint as the president of Multimedia Entertainment, the company that launched “.”
He railed against what he believes is over-taxation and government spending and spent weeks bashing Weprin after the assemblyman miscalculated the national debt by $10 trillion.
Weprin’s camp tried to frame the assemblyman as a small business-friendly candidate. Queens Democrats attempted to tie Turner to the Tea Party and attacked him for corporate-friendly statements, including a moment during a debate when he claimed to have “.”
The district covers a number of neighborhoods in Queens, including Forest Hills, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Woodhaven, Glendale, Maspeth, Fresh Meadows, Ridgewood, Rockaway Beach, Rego Park and Ozone Park.
The district’s Brooklyn communities include Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Midwood, Mill Basin and Sheepshead Bay.
Stay tuned with Patch for more Ninth District election coverage.