Six months after his upset victory in a special election for Congress, U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-N.Y.) has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination to oppose U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in November, immediately setting off a battle for the GOP Senate nomination.
Turner, a former media executive holding his first public office, announced Tuesday afternoon that he would be the fourth Republican to enter the race against Gillibrand. The news comes 12 hours after a federal judge in Brooklyn finalized new congressional districts for New York that eliminated Turner's district which covered parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Turner won the congressional seat in the special election to succeed former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), who resigned following a sex scandal.
"I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington," Turner said in a statement appearing in the State of Politics blog.
"I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis. Brooklyn and Queens voters, of all political parties, graciously responded by sending me to Congress. It now appears that their district has been eliminated."
New York Republicans will convene in Rochester Friday for a state convention to consider candidates for the Senate nomination. In addition to Turner, conservative judicial activist Wendy Long, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin are running for the nod to oppose Gillibrand. Under Empire State law, candidates will need to get 25 percent of the vote at the convention to secure a place on the primary ballot. If they cannot get on the ballot via convention, candidates will need to petition their way on to the ballot.
A federal judge's ruling moved New York's primary from September to late June, following opposition from the U.S. Department of Defense to the September date; the DOD needed more time to send ballots to military personnel serving overseas.
Turner faces a significant obstacle in his path to the Senate, with the state's Conservative Party lining up behind Long. State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long -- no relation to Wendy Long -- told HuffPost Tuesday afternoon that Wendy Long is likely to grab his party's nomination in a convention a week from today. Mike Long said Conservative Party leaders across the state have been solidly behind her.
"He's a good friend, I'm the guy who brought him to the table to run for Congress," Mike Long told HuffPost about Turner. "He came to the table to late, Wendy Long has been campaigning since February. She has sucked the oxygen from the room with my leaders across the state."
He said that at a Conservative Party event last night in Albany, Wendy Long was received like "a rock star" by party leaders. While Turner is a neighbor and the decision places him "in a bind," Mike Long said he does not believe he can change the minds of county party leaders statewide.
Under New York law, candidates can hold the nominations of multiple parties and no New York Republican has won statewide without Conservative Party backing since the 1970s. Mike Long said that he wants to see Gillibrand ousted and believes that a woman candidate would be the best bet. He declined to speculate on a scenario where Turner defeats Wendy Long in a primary and sets up a possible three-way race in November.
"My intention is to win this seat," Mike Long told HuffPost. "I believe very firmly that Wendy Long is the best candidate."
Monday night, U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann released her final congressional district lines for New York, which takes Turner's home in the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point and combines it with a district largely dominated by Rep. Greg Meeks' (D) existing district in southeastern Queens. The new district, which includes the Rockaways, Howard Beach and Jamaica is a Democratic stronghold.
Gillibrand was originally appointed to the Senate in 2009 by then Gov. David Paterson (D) after Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned to become secretary of state. She defeated former Rep. Joe DioGuardi (R) in 2010 to capture the remaining two years of Clinton's term.