Rural Election Watch: New York’s 20th District
By Sean Reagan
Voters in New York’s 20th district – a sprawling, largely rural district encompassing all or part of ten counties – head to the polls on Tuesday to fill the House seat vacated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s former Senate seat by Gov. Paterson.
The race pits Democrat Scott Murphy against Republican Jim Tedisco, the state Assembly Minority Leader. At the outset, Tedisco’s name recognition – he’s an Albany fixture, and not always in the best sense of the word – easily dwarfed Murphy’s. The RNC has dumped over $100K into the race.
But for all that, Tedisco’s double digit lead had been steadily shrinking. Recent polls show a tight race, with the momentum all in Murphy’s camp. Veteran pollster Stu Rothenberg has noted that Tedisco can’t quite seem to close the deal.
The Republican voter registration advantage appears to be a lagging indicator of the direction of a district that voted overwhelming for Gillibrand and gave Barack Obama a more narrow victory last fall.
There appears to be a sizable population of Republicans that aren’t yet willing to vote for state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R). Democrats have Tedisco on the defensive for not taking a stance on the stimulus bill in a district where President Obama and Gillibrand are very popular.
In recent days, Murphy has been racking up editorial endorsements. This one, from the Oneonta Daily Star, neatly puts the race in a nutshell. Murphy – smart, creative and energetic. Tedisco – uninformed and out of touch.
Strictly on the issues, The Daily Star endorses Scott Murphy.
While we are concerned about Murphy’s lack of political experience, Tedisco’s unfamiliarity with some local issues after many years in the Legislature bothers us more.
Murphy seems to know little about NYRI’s attempts to create an upstate power line to benefit New York City, but – unlike Tedisco - he at least knew that NYRI stands for New York Regional Interconnect.
. . .
But mostly, this election comes down to this. Murphy supports President Barack Obama’s efforts to revive the economy, and Tedisco opposes them.
If we elect Murphy, he will be a solid vote in the House of Representatives for what Obama is trying to accomplish.
Tedisco would not. The country needs solutions, and another vote to essentially do nothing won’t solve our problems.
Earlier this week, President Obama and the DNC got into the act as well.
The DNC, which has given candidate Scott Murphy $5,000, is now sending another $5,000 to aid the New York Democratic Party in the March 31 contest to fill former Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat, according to a source familiar with the contribution.
And President Barack Obama has signed an e-mail urging support for Murphy and blasted it to a list of more than 50,000 allies in and around the upstate district.
If the election turns out to be a referendum on Obama and the economy, Tedisco is in trouble. He wavered when asked whether he would vote for the President’s stimulus package. In comparison, Murphy’s unqualified support appears to have resonated with voters concerned about the current economy.
While I believe the recovery package is far from perfect, I support President Obama’s call for bold action. It’s essential we provide middle class tax relief, and create jobs in upstate New York immediately. President Obama’s economic recovery package is estimated to create or save over 76,000 jobs in upstate New York and will provide significant budget relief to help hold the line on property taxes.
In a similar vein, early accusations by Republican attack dogs that Murphy had shipped jobs to India backfired. In reality, Murphy used profits from the sale of his India-based internet company and invested them in upstate New York.
In short, Tedisco wants to coast on a long record of wheeling and dealing in Albany’s famed back rooms while voters are looking for the kind of bold and decisive action characteristic of the Obama administration.
Advantage: Scott Murphy.
Posted on March 27th, 2009 by seanreagan
Filed under: Special Elections