The once-potent Liberal Party, which lost its ballot line in 2002, has decided to back Republican Bob Turner in the tightening race to replace Anthony Weiner in the 9th Congressional District, former party chairman Henry Stern told the Voice today.
Stern, the former parks commissioner, is a longtime ally of his old boss, Ed Koch, who’s already endorsed Turner as a way of sending a message to Obama about his Israel policy. Since the seat is likely to be lost to redistricting, especially if Weprin wins, it’s a low-stakes contest locally — and taking place in an off year with little else to draw voters to the polls. With Siena showing the Democrat up by only six points, the strategy of turning the election into a referendum on Obama’s foreign policy seems to be paying some dividends.
The decision came a day after Bob Turner put out an ad linking Democratic foe David Weprin to the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.”
Stern, the former longtime parks commissioner and now the head of good-government group New York Civic, said the decision had little to do with Weprin. “The race also has a national aspect to it, because it’s essentially what people think of Obama, so it’s more important than a simple Turner-versus-Weprin decision,” Stern said.
Asked about the impact of an endorsement by a party without a ballot line or much formal presence, Stern said “the people are still there, the issues weren’t taken off the ballot,” and that the party, which he described as “a collection of individuals” who would “express their opinions with the candidates they favor to ensure their message is distributed as widely as possible, as widely as they can afford. I think people will take it into consideration along with other factors on September 13th.”
While the endorsement is one useful tick for Turner, it’s also a way for the Liberal party – which since losing its ballot line has mostly been eclipsed by the Working Families Party – to keep itself in the news.
Pointing to his Godfather-derived Rule 29B (29 letters, key word “business”), Stern said: “This is the business we have chosen.”