Kathryn Lopez

It's a wild political climate out there. In keeping with the blistering heat afflicting previously ultra-safe incumbents, a happily, comfortably retired Queens businessman by the name of Bob Turner thinks he can unseat his Democratic congressman, six-term Rep. Anthony Weiner, in November. It's a long shot, but crazier things have happened. Just ask Sen. Scott Brown.

Running for office was the furthest thing from Turner's mind when he was watching Weiner on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show one March night. But, as Democrats were forcing their unpopular health-care revolution through the legislation machine, Weiner didn't even have the decency to answer his interviewer's questions. Weiner's "dodging" made Turner "hostile." So he went to his neighbor, Michael Long, who happens to be chairman of the Conservative party in New York, and asked, "To whom do I send a check?" No one, was the answer. There was no one challenging Weiner. So Turner pressed on, asking what could be done about that. Long, sketched-out prerequisites -- "Someone who isn't working," "Someone who has enough coin to start the ball rolling," and so forth.

Thus Turner asked his wife of 46 years, Peggy, what she'd think of his running for Congress. A talk-radio junkie, the special-needs nurse immediately became his biggest cheerleader: She was in a state of outrage about the undemocratic transformation going on before her eyes. And so "Bob Turner for Congress" was born.

Turner, who spent 40 years in media and business, is determined: writing his own policy statements, doing his own media, not shying away from the hard work of the campaign trail. The "business background helps," he says, of his effort to get voters to know someone is running against Weiner at all. His campaign "is not a gesture," he insists. He's in it to serve as congressman. "Plan A is to win. Plan B is to team up with likeminded people once I get to Washington." Deeply worried about the unsustainable nature of current federal spending, as well as the vital national-security and moral threats to our future, he wants Washington to make sense.

Turner is convinced that his zeal is shared in the Ninth District of New York (and around the country). Brooklyn and Queens may not seem like prime Tea Party territory, but their residents are living in the same country and feeling the same economic and other frustrations as the most pro-Palin gladiator. It's a concern about America's future and very identity that Turner hopes he can latch onto for the heart of his campaign. He has outdoor advertising and mailings planned, but he insists that the core of the campaign is going to focus on getting a "buzz" started at kitchen tables around the district, phone calls, knocking on doors and new media.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.