Challenger Turner eyes Anthony Weiner’s seat to repeal health-care law

Bob Turner. Photo courtesy of Bob Turner
By Anna Gustafson

After nearly 69 years of happily remaining outside politics, Rockaway Point resident Bob Turner has done something he never dreamed he would do: throw his hat in the ring for U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-Forest Hills) seat.

A business man who grew up in Woodhaven, raised a family in Richmond Hill and moved to Rockaway Point 20 years ago, Turner, 69, is running as a Republican for the 9th Congressional District post. He said he never considered entering the political scene until the federal health care bill passed this spring.

“I’ve never volunteered and I haven’t been involved in the political process,” said Turner. “I’m a regular retired business guy who’s been really concerned with the way things are going with the deficit, taxes and the responsiveness of our government. The health care bill was the last straw for me. It was incomprehensible and quite irresponsible in how it’s set up. The part of this bill I think are particularly onerous is the compulsory nature — you must sign up or you pay a fine.”

Turner said he would try to repeal or amend the health care legislation that was passed in March. Weiner, a staunch supporter of the bill, has said it will provide nearly 4.4 million New Yorkers with better health insurance coverage, including more than 700,000 young adults in the state who can remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26.

While Turner said he does not support the most recent health care legislation, he said he is an advocate for health care reform.

“People need to change jobs and carry over their coverage, pre-existing medical conditions must be addressed,” Turner wrote on his website. “This can be accomplished with the creation of high-risk insurance pools subsidized by federal and state funds. Overall cost can be reduced through medical tort reform and interstate competition between private insurance companies.”

The district covers Bayside, Briarwood, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Hillcrest, Howard Beach, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Oakland Gardens, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Rockaway Park, Rockaway Point, Woodhaven and parts of Brooklyn.

Despite health care being the impetus for his run, Turner said he believes the general public is more concerned with their pocketbooks.

“While the health-care bill is not sitting well, it’s the state of the economy that people are concerned about,” Turner said. “It’s the amount of the unemployed and underemployed, and people are frightened about their own jobs being in jeopardy.”

Turner said to create jobs, he would want to cut taxes on businesses and issue tax credits for research development and business innovation.

Turner knows the campaign will be an uphill climb: He is now focusing on “name recognition” in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Since Weiner won his seat in 1999, he has never received less than 65 percent of the vote.

“But I think people will step out of party loyalties and look at this election in a very different way,” Turner said. “People are concerned about their jobs. Small business owners are concerned about the increase in taxes. I think that the historical voting patterns could be thrown out this year.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

More from Around New York