Chuck Schumer represented New York’s ninth congressional district for eighteen years before moving up to the U.S. Senate in 1998, and on a conference call today to discuss Republican Bob Turner’s upset win, Schumer sounded like an ex-boyfriend. “That’s my old district, mostly,” he said. “It’s changed.” But Schumer wasn’t trying to be sentimental; he was trying to spin Democrat David Weprin’s loss yesterday. “I’ve never heard the Ninth CD referred to as a bellwether,” he said. “It’s among the most conservative districts in New York City. Anybody who tries to extrapolate between what’s happened in this district and what would happen in New York City, New York state, or the country is making a big mistake.”
True, there was no shortage of weirdness to the special election, beginning with why the contest was necessary in the first place — Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal. And the simplest local analysis is the most accurate: The better candidate won. Yet Turner’s victory is already having serious ramifications for city and state politicians, including Schumer. Dean Skelos now has momentum in trying to expand his Republican majority in the state Senate; he also has a stronger bargaining position in the upcoming battle with Shelly Silver and Andrew Cuomo over re-districting, which in turn may mean trouble for Gary Ackerman of Queens, the downstate congressional Democrat mostly likely to have his district re-configured. The Dems’ plan was for Weprin to win and then quietly disappear along with his district next year; now Ackerman could find himself going up against Turner or a fellow incumbent Democrat. Kathy Hochul, the low person on the Democratic delegation’s seniority totem poll, is also newly vulnerable to having her Buffalo district erased. If things continue to go downhill for the economy and the president, Schumer’s junior partner in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, might even draw a real Republican opponent. Gillibrand has worked hard to boost her popularity and pass meaningful legislation, and she’s raised a formidable amount of campaign cash. But any Democrat running for reelection in 2012 had to wake up slightly more nervous this morning.