Congressman-elect Bob Turner was feted at the annual state Republican Party dinner Wednesday night in Midtown Manhattan like a newly crowned prom king. His upset victory in the 9th Congressional District was referred to throughout the night as a wake up call to Democrats.
But Turner himself was more modest about the win.
"My 15 minutes seem to have lasted a little longer than I thought but I have a particular job to do and role to fill and I’m the right person at the right time," he said.
He will start that new job after he is sworn in on Thursday.
The former cable-television executive shook hands and posed for pictures during the cocktail hour, and beamed as attendees congratulated him on his new seat in the House.
Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, was one of many in his party who called Turner's upset victory a bellwether for the 2012 presidential election.
“These are the working men and women of Brooklyn and Queens who keep this city going. That is what middle America is about too. This is what middle American is going to do in the election, we sent a message here.”
Democrats have dismissed the claim that the special election was a litmus test for 2012. They argue that issues, like Democrat David Weprin's stand on same-sex marriage and Israel, played a greater role at the ballot box than President Obama.
They also questioned the significance of the win in light of the fact that New York's congressional delegation will be losing two seats in 2012.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who crossed party lines to endorse Turner, said his party shouldn't dismiss the upset.
"The point of it is, if they had won the election by even a half a point, they'd be holding press conferences saying look the President can even win in this district so you can't have it both ways."
State Republicans dined on a mozzarella and tomato salad, chicken with mushroom sauce and a rich chocolate dessert as they listened to speakers likeNational RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos talk about the strength of the party and the next election.
There was a brief disruption at the gathering by dozens of pro-union protestors who walked through shouting "GOP get a clue about revenue!" They handed out colorful flyers in support of the millionaire’s tax before being escorted out by hotel security.
Turner took the 9th congressional seat once held by Anthony Weiner in a special election against opponent David Weprin Tuesday night. The district has been a Democratic stronghold since the 1920s.
(Photo: Pro-union protestors crash the annual Republican party dinner./Kathleen Horan for WNYC)