5:15 pm Mar. 13, 2012
Less than five hours after Congressman Bob Turner declared his intention to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand, the senator's re-election campaign is already fund-raising off his candidacy.
The email to supporters arrived under the subject line "Rush's Guy," a nod to Turner's role in putting conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on television, back when Turner was a television executive. (The television version of Limbaugh's show wasn't nearly as successful as the subsequent radio version.)
Turner's opponent in the September special election tried a similar criticism, but the connection might have more resonance now, with Limbaugh becoming a figure in what Democrats have branded a Republican "war on women."
Gillibrand has been one of the more outspoken opponents of Limbaugh lately, calling his comments about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke a "vile tirade."
"Maybe [Turner] was inspired by her unfaltering defense of women's rights in the Senate or his old pal Rush being back in the news again," writes Gillibrand's aide, Lillian Choi, in the solicitation. "Or maybe he just thinks he deserves a promotion and can push Kirsten aside, but we need to show right-wing Congressman Turner and her other extreme opponents that Kirsten is no push over."
A spokesman for Turner, Jessica Proud, sent over the following response: "Between Obamacare, surging gas prices, and being labeled the most left-wing senator in the country this month, Kirsten Gillibrand is in big trouble this year. It’s no wonder that her out-of-touch policies and status as the ultimate Washington insider have kept her from resonating with average New Yorkers."
Gillibrand's email suggests that the campaign needs to raise $100,000 by the end of the month in order to send a message to Turner.