Bob Turner watched many replays of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-Queens and Brooklyn) tirade regarding compensation for Ground Zero workers on the House floor a couple of weeks ago and laughed. For the Rockaway Point resident, it was nothing more than “political theatrics” that were staged.
“I think Democrats played politics with this and it was a show,” Turner told the Chronicle last Friday. “Most people knew exactly what he did.”
Weiner later explained why he was so demonstrative about the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act’s failure in a piece published last week in the Queens Chronicle and New York Times, among other publications.
Turner, a Republican, is running this fall to unseat Weiner in the 9th District, which covers Maspeth, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Middle Village, Forest Hills, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Rockaway Beach and Woodhaven, and parts of Brooklyn.
“I see this as a call of duty,” said the Army veteran. “I’m motivated by what I think is a terrible direction this country is heading in.”
Turner grew up on 98th Street in Woodhaven, lived briefly in Kew Gardens and raised his family in Richmond Hill. He attended St. John’s University and has five children and 11 grandchildren.
Turner spent 40 years as an executive in the television industry, at such companies as CBS Cable, Bristol-Myers, Pearson PLC, Multimedia Entertainment and Orbis Entertainment. He said his corporate experience is what, in part, qualifies him to represent the 9th.
“I’ve been through all the various stages of business development,” he said. “I know what helps business, I know what hurts business. Right now we’re hurting.”
Turner said the American economy is “based on small business” and that “excessive taxes and regulations can be crippling,” to any recovery effort.
“We have to grow our way out of this,” he asserted. “And we grow through tax cuts and business incentives. Government is generally an impediment, not a help.”
Turner is keying on familiar issues during the campaign, including taxes and spending, the economy, national security, federal debt, job creation and healthcare.
He said he would reduce spending by eliminating duplicate and redundant programs, and reforming the appropriations process. Turner opposes the closure of Guantanamo Bay and trying foreign terrorists in civilian courts. And the cost of the new healthcare bill, according to Turner, can be reduced through medical tort reform and interstate competition between private insurance companies.
Weiner’s campaign issued a statement to the Chronicle on Tuesday.
“Anthony is proud to be a strong, independent voice for Queens and Brooklyn who is busy fighting for good jobs, sensible budget cuts, Israel and to protect Social Security,” spokesman Max Pomeranc said. “He knows some Republicans want to play politics right now, but he thinks it’s more important to be working on our community’s priorities and real solutions.”
As of last Friday, Turner said his camp has raised about $250,000. He has spoken at Kiwanis Club gatherings, several civic meetings and senior centers, and reports that the sentiment, in his opinion, is very anti-incumbent.
“There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the course this government is on,” Turner said. “I think this district is underrepresented.”
And that dissatisfaction, Turner claimed, is born out of frustration with career politicians. He points to Weiner and his predecessor in the seat, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), as examples.
“They’ve never done anything outside of politics,” Turner said after calling his life experience a qualification to run for office. “I’m not sure that gives you the right perspective on the world.”
Turner said he feels “things are moving in our direction,” but is well aware that there’s a long road to November.
“We’ve got to get through political slogans and sound bytes that aren’t necessarily true,” he said. “It’s a winnable election, but we’ve got a little work to do.”