Congressman Bob Turner’s (R-Queens and Brooklyn) quest for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination was not quite five hours old on Tuesday when his supporters and those of incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared to be in full campaign mode.
Turner, 70, is a retired television executive who scored an upset win last September in a special election to fill the 9th District House seat vacated by the resignation of scandal-plagued Democrat Anthony Weiner.
In a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday, Turner said he will speak to leaders of the Republican and Conservative parties this week to ask for their endorsements.
“I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington,” Turner said in the statement. “I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis.”
Turner acknowledged in the statement that his congressional district appears ticketed for elimination under redistricting lines that would remove his home from the 9th District.
Depending on whether the state Legislature approves lines drawn up by a judge or drafts some of its own, Turner could be placed into the districts of Democratic incumbents Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) or Carolyn McCarthy (D-LI).
“There is serious work to be done to get the economy back on track, and I will not walk away from that work now,” Turner’s statement added. “I will run for the Senate, and I will win.”
Gillibrand was an upstate congresswoman who was appointed in 2009 to fill the vacancy when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton was named secretary of state by President Obama.
New York’s junior senator then won a special election to retain the seat in 2010.
Republican officials in Queens and at the state level could not be reached for comment by the Chronicle’s deadline.
Turner’s campaign said its candidate would not be granting interviews on Tuesday as he is reaching out to county Republican chairpersons in an effort to round up support.
In a statement issued by the Gillibrand camp, spokesman Glen Caplin welcomed Turner to the race.
“We look forward to contrasting Sen. Gillibrand’s record of fighting for New York’s middle class with that of Congressman Turner’s record as a former Rush Limbaugh producer turned self-proclaimed ‘pandering’ Republican if he becomes the nominee,” Caplin said.
“As a member of Congress, his record of voting with the House Republicans to help protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, raise Medicare premiums for seniors and block efforts to put middle-class families back to work is too extreme for New York,” Caplin added.
In a statement from his campaign, Turner spokeswoman Jessica Proud suggested that Gillibrand might want to tend to her own record.
“Between Obamacare, surging gas prices and being labeled the most left-wing senator in the country this month, Kirsten Gillibrand is in big trouble this year,” Proud said. “It’s no wonder that her out-of-touch policies and status as the ultimate Washington insider have kept her from resonating with average New Yorkers.”
In September Turner won a seat held by Democrats since 1923.
He defeated Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) largely on his ability to turn the race into a referendum on policies of President Obama, such as his lack of support for Israel.