Thingish Things

Citizen Bob

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Mar• 19•12

It is impossible for me to be objective about Bob Turner, not because he’s a client, but because I’d cut off my right arm for the guy. Not too many people can engender that type of loyalty.

If you don’t know Bob, he’s the congressman who was elected last fall in the seat vacated by former congressman Anthony Weiner. No Republican had been elected in that district since 1922. Five months after that victory, Bob’s district was erased because New York lost population in the Census count. Undeterred, Bob is running for U.S. Senate this year against New York’s junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Bob Turner is on a mission, and nothing is going to slow him down.

Here’s the thing about Bob Turner; he’s a businessman not a politician. I mean, he’s really not a politician. The first time I met him I privately thought “this guy’s going to get crushed.” He says what he thinks; he refuses to talk in sound bites — and when he has nothing to say, he doesn’t say anything at all. Those are not qualities political professionals look for in a candidate.

At a high-stakes debate during his congressional race last Fall — the room was packed with reporters and cameras — Bob was asked a question that must have taken six minutes to utter. He walked slowly up to the microphone and answered the question. “Yes,” he said, before walking back to his seat and sitting down. The room was silent. I cringed in the back of the room. And then, the most extraordinary thing happened. People began to giggle. And then clap. Loudly. They were titillated at what they had just seen. A regular citizen answering a question directly. Bob’s opponent followed with an immemorable half-filibuster and went on to lose the race.

Bob Turner entered politics as a semi-retired television executive. He had never been to a political fundraiser until two years ago. He was too busy working for a living. One night, while watching the news, Bob saw his local congressman blowing smoke and something clicked.  He had finally had it and needed to get involved. He called his neighbor, the state Conservative Party chairman, and asked where he should send a check. The next day Bob was the candidate.

Bob Turner had an extraordinary career in the television business. He created shows all of us know and watched for years. He has zero interest in building a political career.  That’s his secret weapon. Bob can say what he thinks and live with the consequences, because at the end of the day he’s satisfied with who he is and what he’s accomplished.   Career and aspiring career politicians measure every word and often end up speaking mush.

A real citizen legislator.  How refreshing. How American.

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  1. Gene B. says:

    Great article – couldn’t have said it better myself! Looking forward to working on Turner ’12!

  2. Thanks, Gene. Hope you’re well.

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