It was little over a year ago, in September 2011, that Bob Turner, a former cable TV executive and a Republican, was elected congressman in a special election to replace Anthony Weiner, who had resigned in a “sexting” scandal.
On Jan. 2, Turner’s term will come to an end, certainly making him one of the shortest-serving congresspersons in recent memory.
His district, the 9th C.D., included much of southern and southeastern Brooklyn as well as much of Queens, including the Rockaways. But the area was redistricted, Turner opted not to run again, and much of its Brooklyn portion will be represented by Yvette Clarke, already in Congress.
Speaking to the Eagle, Turner reflected on his short term in Washington and the issues he was involved with.
Turner, the son of a cab driver, was involved in the advertising and television industries for more than 40 years. He helped to promote “Baywatch,” “Fame,” “The Price Is Right,” “The Jerry Springer Show” and many other well-known shows.
“There are two parts to [being a congressman],” he said. “One is constituent services. You have to have a good responsive staff to solve numerous problems, including Social Security and veterans’ affairs. Servicing the community is a big part of the job.” In this area, he said, Weiner did a good job.
“The other part is legislative,” he said, “and there’s a pretty large philosophical divide between Republicans and Democrats about how we respond to issues like the national debt.”
Asked how he was able to win against his opponent, State Sen. David Weprin, in a traditionally Democratic district, Turner said, “There is a lingering dissatisfaction with some of the Obama agenda, particularly Obamacare, and a mounting concern with the debt problem.” In the special election, he says, “I ran largely against President Obama, not Weprin.”
Asked about Obama in general, Turner responds, “I find him an incredibly astute politician, an incredibly tough adversary, and I disagree with him on many of the key issues, such as taxes, the deficit, how we handle a return to prosperity.”
In congress, Turner was assigned to the Foreign Affairs, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security committees. He is perhaps most proud of sponsoring successful legislation that allowed the U.S. to seize $1.8 billion in laundered Iranian assets to award to families of American servicemen who were killed in the 1983 Lebanon bombing incident.
In domestic politics, he has been active, with the rest of the New York congressional delegation, in seeking more funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy (his own house in Breezy Point was burned to the ground during the storm). He also was active in the fight to give New York City an equitable share of Homeland Security funds.
Although he plans to return to civilian life, Turner is proud of the friends he made in Congress, such as Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island), as well as people he met in the Brooklyn part of the district whom he otherwise would not have encountered.
Bob Capano, Turner's district director, added, "We are proud of our record for the Brooklyn portion of the district. For the first time in this congressional district, we opened a full-time Brooklyn office in Sheepshead Bay where we assisted hundreds of constituents. In addition, even before Superstorm Sandy, we pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to address the deteriorating shore conditions of Plumb Beach and Manhattan Beach and put it on their agenda.”