By Carole on Aug 23, 2011
The battle to replace disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York) is getting even more interesting. The September 13 special election between Democrat David Weprin and Republican Bob Turner was supposed to be a slam dunk for State Assemblyman Weprin, a career politician and Orthodox Jew running to represent a district with one of the largest Jewish populations in the country and where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1. But the outcome is now far from certain as this race has turned into a Jewish referendum on the Democratic Party's agenda and the Obama administration's policies regarding Israel. That's bad news for Mr. Weprin.
The latest headline from New York's District 9: extremely influential Democratic lawmaker Dov Hikind, who serves with Mr. Weprin in the New York State Assembly and is also an Orthodox Jew, has announced that he will not endorse Mr. Weprin. He has even hinted that in the coming days he could endorse Mr. Turner. The main reason? During the recent fight to legalize gay marriage in their state, the two men were on opposite sides (Mr. Weprin was in favor of legalization while Mr. Hikind was opposed). But it was not just their differing opinions on that issue that made a Hikind endorsement impossible; it was Assemblyman Weprin's crossing of a very clear line.
In a June 15 speech, Mr. Weprin stated that his own Orthodox rabbi would not marry a Jew and a non-Jew, which he felt was wrong; and that gay marriage was no different, "My religion is very important to me personally, but this is not a religious issue,” he said. "I think everyone here would agree that we should not be outlawing marriages between Jews and non-Jews or interracial marriages."
His reference to what should or should not be outlawed by his religion (not the state) angered many in the Orthodox community including Assemblyman Hikind who responded in his own floor speech, "Maybe we take the Torah, God forbid, and throw it in the garbage...If you want to tell God 'You don’t know what you’re talking about, you got it all wrong', do it."
And so today while announcing that he would not support his fellow Democrat in his bid for higher office, Mr. Hikind made the reason clear saying, "Weprin basically used his Jewish orthodoxy to say gay marriage is OK. He used his orthodoxy to say gay marriage is kosher. That crossed the line."
Meanwhile officials at the National Republican Campaign Committee think Candidate Turner has enough of a chance at an upset win to merit a five-figure contribution into his campaign and they're calling that a "first step [that] could turn into more help from national Republicans." More bad news for Mr. Weprin.
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