Turner taps Weiner for advice

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Bob Turner talks to TimesLedger staff about his first weeks in office. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Newly elected U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Howard Beach) met with his predecessor, Anthony Weiner, for an hour last week to discuss ongoing issues in the 9th Congressional District.

Turner requested the tete-a-tete to try and make his transition to Congress as smooth as possible for constituents, he said in an interview at TimesLedger Newspapers’ office last Thursday.

“There are a lot of things in the pipeline,” Turner said of the roughly 166 active case files Weiner’s staff has stayed to work on since the former Democratic congressman resigned in June amid a sexting scandal. “It was all business. I never asked how he was feeling.”

Turner already has his sights on several Queens issues.

He will pick up the torch on many problems Weiner worked on or was at least aware of, Turner said, even though the two men are from polar opposites of the political spectrum. The Republican congressman, for example, plans to intervene on behalf of Middle Village residents who are tormented by trains running through their neighborhood, he said.

Turner also expressed concern for the eroding beaches of Rockaway, the gas pipeline running through Broad Channel and his opposition to the expansion of a John F. Kennedy International Airport runway into environmentally fragile Jamaica Bay.

Turner has not met with many other members of the Queens congressional delegation to talk about issues that affect the borough. He did sit down, however, with City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing), despite the fact that Turner’s district encompasses only a small piece of Koo’s Flushing. The councilman endorsed Turner’s opponent, state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), in the special election race that culminated Sept. 13. Koo met with Turner to talk about the issues facing groups of Asian immigrants since some live in Turner’s district.

Turner has also been under the wing of Rep. Peter King (R-Massapequa Park), who Turner said has been charged with easing the neophyte into his new job.

“This has been a whirlwind,” Turner said, saying he did not have the luxury of attending introductory sessions that helped some of his freshmen colleagues acclimate last year.

He has already voted about 20 times, and like most congressmen he has had little time to actually read what he was voting on.

He espoused many of his campaign talking points — namely his desire to repeal the National Health Care Act and rein in government spending as well as his aversion to taxes and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Turner said there is a desire on the Republican Party’s part to keep the 9th CD instead of redistricting it out of existence as Democrats might have done had they won the seat. Either way he still plans to run again for office.

Turner was mum about the current infighting between two factions of the Queens GOP, saying he was above the fray since he worked in Washington.

He also has not picked a favorite in the Republican presidential race.

The 70-year-old Turner also revealed a few nuggets about his formative years, and they confirm he will not be changing his political ideology anytime soon.

In college, Turner was part of Young Americans for Freedom, a politically conservative action group that stood in stark contrast to other radical student groups at the time.

“Most students were radical, bomb-throwing,” he joked. “But I took a different turn.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 4:49 pm, October 20, 2011
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