NEW YORK (JTA) — Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, as promised, endorsed the Republican candidate for Anthony Weiner’s vacated congressional seat.
Koch, who made the official announcement Monday, had said he was going to back the GOP’s Bob Turner over Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin in the special election for New York’s 9th District in a bid to force President Obama to change his Israel policies.
"If David Weprin is elected, you think that sends a message?" Koch, a Democrat, said when he announced his endorsement in Queens. "His election would be viewed by President Obama as simply that of another Democrat elected to office in what is one of the largest Jewish constituencies in the nation."
The National Jewish Democratic Council rebuked Koch.
“Ed Koch’s most recent actions reveal his true colors; sadly, he’s just a former Democrat who is now a contrarian, attention-seeking shill for the GOP,” NJDC President David Harris said in a statement. “Which is deeply troubling given his heyday as a leading Jewish Democrat.”
The statement listed a number of examples, such as Koch’s 2004 endorsement of George W. Bush, as reasons his “conduct places him squarely outside the mainstream of the American Jewish community — to say nothing of the Democratic Party.”
Koch’s endorsement of Turner over Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, came with a caveat, however: He took the opportunity to take a swipe at Republican leadership over the debt crisis.
“I think the Republicans are scoundrels in the way they’re handling the matter — the Republican leadership, I mean," Koch said.
Turner brushed off the criticism, calling it “vintage Ed.”
The 9th District, which meanders between Brooklyn and Queens, is likely to be eliminated in the decennial redistricting.