September 13th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Race to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner may speak to Democratic-Jewish tensions

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Tuesday’s special election to replace scandalized New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is happening in one of the most Jewish and most Democratic congressional districts in the country, but the frontrunner is neither a Democrat nor Jewish.


The race for New York’s 9th Congressional District has attracted national attention because polls give Republican candidate Robert Turner an edge, a potential sign of trouble for President Barack Obama and for the Democrats ahead of next year’s election.

Adding to the surprise over Turner’s apparent lead in the Brooklyn and Queens-centered district is that his Democratic opponent, David Weprin, is an Orthodox Jew.

Some have speculated that Weprin’s unexpectedly uphill race is a reflection of Jewish discontent with Obama’s stance on Israel.

In a Siena College Research Institute survey from earlier in September, Weprin, a New York State assemblyman who has a significant fundraising advantage over Turner, held a 51-45% lead among likely Jewish voters. The same poll found that 76% of likely Jewish voters in the district said the country is headed in the wrong direction and that just 42% had a favorable view of Obama.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, enjoyed a 76% approval rating among likely Jewish voters in New York’s 9th District.

Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg says Welprin’s 6-point lead over Turner among likely Jewish voters is down from a 21-point lead in early August, with almost all of the dropoff  in support coming among Jewish Republicans and Independents.

Greenberg, who estimates the 9th District is about one-quarter Jewish, says that Obama is suffering among Democratic voters more broadly and that “Jewish voters are no different than all the voters in the district.”

In a May speech, Obama said that Israel's 1967 borders should be a starting point for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and land swaps, provoking criticism from some Jewish leaders.

But a July poll from Gallup found that Obama had a 60% job approval rating among Jewish Americans, and that the speech was "not a watershed in Jewish views toward Obama.”

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who has supported Republican candidates in the past, endorsed Turner for Congress.

“My support for Mr. Turner is intended to send a message to President Obama that he cannot throw Israel under the bus with impunity,” Koch wrote, explaining his decision.

The New York Times suggested that Turner, a former cable television executive, has also been buoyed by conservative Jewish discomfort with same-sex marriage, which Weprin supports.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut and an Orthodox Jew, endorsed Weprin over the summer and came to his defense on Israel.

"While David Weprin can be counted on to fight for the safety and security of the State of Israel, we can also rely on him to protect the seniors and working families of Brooklyn and Queens," Lieberman said at a July press conference.

Another sign of potential Democratic struggles with Jewish voters: the Democratic National Committee held a session on “Jewish messaging” at its recent meeting in Chicago.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • New York • Politics

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. John


    September 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • .....

      GARBAGE ALERT – Don't bother viewing click the report abuse link to get rid of this TROLL!

      September 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  2. Joe

    At last Jews who will not vote for Adolf Hittler if he ran as a Dem

    September 14, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  3. ColoredMountains

    The Jews need Jesus. There is no other way.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • AGuest9

      Other way to what?

      September 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  4. Julawta

    Weprin lost. Strangely CNN is not running a front page article on it, even though this earlier article made the front pag.

    September 14, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  5. Who Am I?

    I claim to be sooo smart, yet I am clearly walking in the dark.
    I claim to need no higher power, yet my attltude towards life and others is clearly sour.
    I claim Christians are to blame, yet I do nothing and have no shame.
    My life has no ultimate meaning, so I come on here screaming.

    I used to be an agnostic/atheist until He changed my heart. Blessed day to all 🙂

    September 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • frenchie

      For a christian, you seem to have a lot of hate or bitterness in your heart. I feel sorry for you.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Who are you? You are an ignorant, judgmental fool. Glad I could clear that up for you!

      September 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Bill/Fl

    FPosting not going through.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • ha ha

      probably because you are too stupid, heisgod

      September 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  7. Bill/Fl


    September 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  8. don canard

    since conservative Jewish Americans were principals of the neoconservative movement that orchestrated the Bush administration's foreign policy and moved the US to invading Iraq, and are now urging the "celebration of affluence" as their response to the financial crisis, this position of theirs is quite consistent. Conservative Jewish people not living in Israel are one of the prime roadblocks to formulation of a Near East policy that actually safeguards Israel's security because their reactionary position prevents fruitful discussion of the subject. Newsflash: just because you oppose Likud or Beit Einu doesn't mean that you're an antisemite. Otherwise there'd be a lot of Jewish antisemites in Israel and abroad. The real issue is insistence on an unsustainable status quo.

    September 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Well Now, Aren't You Full of Sh it

      No, dipstick. Let's talk about Sharon and Gaza.in '05. The real issue is that Israel's neighbors want Israel gone. Israel's security is an illusion.

      Conservative Jews my ass.

      September 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • mike proctor

      i'm in agree with your comment and do feel that the jew play a to big to fail in the polices of this Country and every politicians is worry about upsetting the jewish people if we tell them that Israel is not the only one in that part of the world,in response to the stupid comment Kock made "SEND A MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA HE CANNOT THROW ISRAEL UNDER THE BUS" in reference to the election in New York,this is exactly what the republicans/tea-baggers wants everyone to do because they grow stronger and gather more seats in the house to kill the American dream for certain groups in this Country that President Obama is trying to help get that dream back in their live. Everyone wants Israel and they neighbors to live in peaceful surrounding but Israel bring lots of harm to themselves by being pig-headed in regard to working with their neighbors.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  9. MohamedInAComicStrip

    Thank goodness the Orthodox Jewish community is taking a lead and calling out the Dems for bankrupting this country and supporting programs which destroy the family.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Geekalot

      Right, and republican insistance on deregulating the banking industry (and other industries too) and penchant for agressively seeking expensive, unnecessary war had nothing to do with our present economic dilema. Neither did republican policies that paved the way for entire industries to move oversees to take advantage of slave...oops, I mean lower cost labor. Or their efforts to dismantle the pension system that so many Americans worked their entire lives for and then lost when corporations were allowed to shed those pensions.

      September 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Thank you, Geekalot, for re-iterating the truth. Truth is what seems to be lacking in these fora, as well as in government, currently.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  10. Colin

    Judaism is the belief that an infinitely-old, all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, has a personal interest in how much skin I have on my d.ick.

    Atheism is the belief that the above belife is ridiculous.

    September 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • fred

      So finally the truth Atheism is a belief system. You da man Colan !

      Oh, you are correct in that nothingness matters unless you have some skin in the game.

      September 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bill/Fl

      . Commets forth.coming.

      Stay tuned.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • fred

      Where did you go? Are you looking for a dictionary on how to spell circ-umcision? If you are a fan the Washington Red Skins knew how to cut to the chase this weekend.

      September 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • ha ha

      ha ha bill
      like anyone wants to see your stupid posts
      ha ha ha

      September 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Please, don't come all over this blog with your comments!

      September 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • AGuest9

      No, fred, being an atheist is the lack of a need of a belief system.

      September 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Colin: Not exactly. Atheism is a belief that the entire Universe with it's billions of galaxies and everything else including the skin on your proud member CAME INTO EXISTENCE ALL BY ITSELF FROM NOTHING.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • AGuest9

      Thinker23 – "ALL BY ITSELF FROM NOTHING"?

      The collision of two branes isn't "from nothing". Neither is a singularity "nothing".

      September 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.