Colby Hamilton, Writer, WNYC News
Colby Hamilton is a general assignment reporter. He originally joined WNYC as a political blogger. He's a proud graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
By Alec Hamilton
As expected, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch announced this morning that he is crossing party lines to throw his support behind Republican hopeful Bob Turner in September’s special election for the 9th Congressional District.
Koch explained he was supporting the Republican in order to “send a message to Washington that will affect the position of President Obama on Israel and the position of the Republican Party on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
Koch said it wasn’t personal and pointed out that he had supported Weprin on other occasions.
“There’s no question that David Weprin is a major supporter of the state of Israel and undoubtedly takes the same position I take with respect to entitlement, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But if David Weprin is elected, do you think that sends a message? Do you think Obama’s going to say ‘Oh my god, they’ve repudiated me! They sent David Weprin!’ No.”
The endorsement was made at the Turner for Congress headquarters in Queens, with Councilmember Erich Ulrich--himself once considered a contender for the Republican nomination--and 23rd Assembly District Republican hopeful Jane Deacy in attendance.
The race will pit Turner against Democratic Party pick Assemblyman David Weprin in an election to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of former Congressman Anthony Weiner
Republican Margaret Wagner, from Broad Channel, Queens, and independent Kevin Hiltunen from Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, came out to show their support for Turner. Warner said she was motivated to support Turner out of concern about the Health Care Reform Act and the closure of a local Rockaway Hospital.
“My plan and my husband’s plan for insurance, they just gave us one less choice. So we’re starting to feel the effects of Obamacare already, and that concerns me greatly for my kids and my grandkids.”
Turner, a former businessman, said he would defend Medicare and Medicaid from privatization efforts.
“I will stand up for what I believe regardless of what party leaders tell me, and today that means defending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid against privatization and ill-conceived cuts."