Turner refocuses on Congress following GOP primary loss

After losing the Republican Party primary, U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (l.) plans to assist nominee Wendy Long in her campaign against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
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After an unsuccessful end to his U.S. Senate run, Congressman Bob Turner (R-Middle Village) quickly refocused on his House duties rather than brood over the what-ifs.

“There is no time to sit around and lick our wounds,” said Turner, who lost the June 26 primary to conservative lawyer Wendy Long. “I entered the race thinking that I was the strongest candidate to deliver the Republican votes needed in November. That being said, the voters disagreed, case closed. That’s the way the system works. There is no point in agonizing over it.”

Turner campaigned against Long and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in November.

But low voter turnout and the Conservative Party’s backing of Long spelled defeat for Turner, who ended up with 48,908 votes to Long’s 69,610.

According to Associated Press returns, Long took every upstate county in her double-digit win, while Turner was able to nab victories in his home turf of Brooklyn and Queens.

“We were disappointed in the turnout,” he said. “As it turned out, the way the vote broke was not to our advantage at all.”

The congressman said that while the results were not what he was hoping for, he is intent on supporting Long during her campaign leading up to the fall election — one Turner believes puts two different candidates against each other.

“We’ll get our team out there to shoulder a lot of the workload. Long is the standard bearer of the Republican Party and we pledge to get on with the unity and get the big job done,” he said. “We have a pretty classic distinction here between a big government, big spending liberal Democrat and a smaller government, pro-business Republican.”

Turner also blasted Gillibrand for backing President Barack Obama’s health care bill, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last Thursday.

“She [Gillibrand] constantly votes right down her party line,” he said. “As for the health care bill, this has got to be one of the dumbest and worst laws ever cobbled together by a hurried Congress. It was a mess and the Supreme Court somehow made it even more of a mess. The most elegant thing we can do is to repeal this thing in total.”

Turner is best known for winning the 2011 special election in the 9th Congressional District to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned in the wake of a sexting scandal. Turner pulled out a surprising victory in that election in the solidly Democratic district.

He decided to run for the Senate in March after his district faced elimination in the state’s redistricting process.

As for what he will do when redistricting takes shape in two years, Turner said he would prefer to focus on the job at hand in Congress.

“This is a really interesting time in the House and I’m going to be working hard on that for a while. There is more than enough time to decide,” said Turner, adding in response to a question that a run at mayor is most likely not in the cards. “I don’t know anything about mayor-ing.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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