Debunking the Myth That Same Sex Marriage Lost Anthony Weiner's Seat to a Tea Party Candidate

There is a quiet effort to pin the failings of Democrats to beat a Tea Party candidate in the 2011 special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s House seat in NY District 9 on the passage of the same-sex marriage law in NY State. However though a small number of voters may have voted on this as their prime issue, the history of previous Congressional elections in that district prove that support of LGBT issues including marriage do not jeopardize Democratic candidates.



In 1998, Congressional-member Charles Schumer beat incumbent Senator Al D’Amato and a special election was held to fill Schumer’s seat in the 9th district. As Democrats have held the seat since the 1920’s the Democratic Primary was seen as the de-facto election to fill the seat. The Democratic primary contenders were city council-member Anthony Weiner who previously served as Schumer’s Chief of Staff, former NY Assemblywoman and City Council Member Melinda Katz from the Queens portion of the district (also a strong record on LGBT issues) and Noach Dear, a NY City Council-member from the Brooklyn side a former City Council-member and ultra-Orthodox Jew who has been a very outspoken anti-LGBT bigot.

GOP Runs Against HCR -- And Loses Badly

The Republicans made their case against healthcare reform to voters in the days and weeks leading up to yesterday's special congressional election in Florida -- and lost badly.

Republican backlash over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul had little effect in the nation's first U.S. House race of 2010.


Florida Democratic state Sen. Ted Deutch handily won Tuesday's special election to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler after his underdog GOP opponent attempted to make the contest a referendum on the massive health care bill.

The district, Florida's 19th, leans strongly towards the Democrats, so the overall 62 percent to 35 percent spread in favor of the Democrats means less than the numbers underlying it. Here's First Read's take:

Yet perhaps the biggest news here has to do with seniors, who heavily populate that Broward/West Palm Beach district. That seniors -- the demographic group Obama has struggled with -- overwhelmingly stuck with the Democrat is pretty significant.

If the Republicans think that they have the House locked up in November, they may want to think again. Don't get me wrong, yesterday's election doesn't mean that the Democrats are ensured of victory in the upcoming midterms -- but that also doesn't mean that all the naysaying about the Democrats' chances isn't all a bit hasty.

Why I'm Not So Worried About NY-23

Stuart Rothenberg (via Political Wire) calls the New York congressional district won last month in a special election by Democrat Bill Owens one of the 12 most vulnerable House seats in the nation for 2010 (for some reason rating the district ahead of the open seat the GOP is defending in Illinois 10, which backed Barack Obama by a 61 percent to 38 percent margin in 2008). But I'm not nearly as bullish on the GOP's hopes in this district as is Rothenberg. Here's why:

Accountant Doug Hoffman will again run for the seat he narrowly lost in a special election earlier this month, he said in a statement on his campaign website Thursday.


Hoffman rescinded a concession he made in the early morning hours after election night, and he's spent the last few weeks making an issue of alleged vote fraud; he has basically blamed ACORN for his loss. People who focus on the last election don't do terribly well on the future one -- just ask Chris Jennings, the Dem nominee in FL-13, who complained about her narrow 369-vote loss under questionable circumstances to Rep. Vern Buchanan in '06; in 2008, she lost her rematch in '08 by a 55%-38% margin. Hoffman will have to get over his loss this year to make a new argument next year.

Had Doug Hoffman stuck his head down after his loss and started working towards 2010, he might have had a great shot at winning -- perhaps better than even odds. But Hoffman didn't do this. Instead, he had a public tantrum, unconceding and blaming his loss not on the fact that he was a poor fit for the district but rather on some sort of alleged, though entirely unproven, fraud. Voters aren't terribly fond of sore losers -- it's just not the type of action that carries with it the sense of gravitas that voters tend to like.

Moreover, Hoffman just isn't a good fit for the district. During the special election, he walked into an editorial board meeting with a newspaper in the district almost entirely devoid of an understanding of local issues. While it is certainly true that House elections are federal elections and thus implicate more national than local issues, voters don't tend to support candidates who wear their indifference towards the needs of their community on their sleeve.

This race could yet end up close, and Hoffman might even get swept into Washington in a wave election for Republicans, should one occur. But this just isn't one of the 12 most vulnerable congressional districts in the country.

There's more...

Owens Affirms Support for Healthcare Reform Bill

Though the right wing blogs have tried to write an apocryphal history of the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, the fact is that Democrat Bill Owens ran on a platform that included support for healthcare reform and won. Now Owens, freshly sworn in as a United States Congressman, is reiterating his support for healthcare reform.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) can be counted on as a "yes" in this weekend's expected vote on the House Democrats' health care bill, announcing his support in a press release.

"This legislation will reform the insurance industry and provide increased access to affordable healthcare without taxing healthcare benefits, cutting Medicare benefits or raising taxes on the middle class, and that is exactly the direction we need to go," said Owens. "There are still changes I would like to make, including raising the payroll exemption for small businesses, but like I said last week, there is a fundamental need for reform and we must act with a sense of urgency."

With Owens' support, as well as that of California's new Congressman John Garamendi (whose office confirmed to me this afternoon his intention to vote in favor of healthcare reform), Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now two votes closer to the 218 required to get H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, through the House and on to the Senate. Still waiting to hear, though, whether Michael Barone or anyone else is willing to take me up on my bet that Pelosi will get her 218...

There's more...

But What About New York 23?


A lot didn't go well for the Democrats last night. But that doesn't mean that Democratic successes last night should be overlooked, as some like Michael Barone do.

The 2009 election results are certainly not going to make it easy for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to round up the needed 218 votes for Democrats' health care bills.

Wrong. In a race that Barone doesn't even mention in his "[l]essons from the 2009 election results," the Democrats won in a district a plurality of which had not been represented in Congress since 1850. (You think the race would have been omitted from his write up had it turned out the other way?)

In the simplest terms, the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district did exactly what Barone thinks last night's elections did not do -- get Nancy Pelosi closer to 218 votes in the House in favor of healthcare reform (by electing a pro-reform Democrat instead of an anti-reform Conservative to replace a Republican Congressman who was not a vocal supporter of reform). Bill Owens' victory in the race, along with the easy win by John Garimendi in the California 10 special election also held last night, give the Speaker two votes for reform she didn't have yesterday. Further, they showed Democrats on Capitol Hill that Democrats can win running in favor of reform in a climate dominated by discussion of healthcare.

The House will be voting on healthcare reform on Saturday, so we'll know soon enough who's right -- whether last night's results will inhibit Speaker Pelosi in her quest for 218 or not. I'd bet she gets to 218. And if Barone wants to take me up on that bet, I'm sure we could come up with some charitable purposes that could serve as the beneficiary of such a wager.

There's more...


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