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Blog Home Page --> House -- New York -- 20

Obama: NY-20 A Win For Economic Plans

As the political world is taking stock of his administration thus far, President Obama congratulates Scott Murphy for his win in the NY-20 special election, noting that the Democrat "courageously championed the economic plans we need." Here's his full statement:

"I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Congressman-elect Scott Murphy for his victory in New York's 20th Congressional District. With this hard fought win, Scott has shown he is willing to fight the tough battles on behalf of the people in his district.

"As a candidate, Scott courageously championed the economic plans we need to lift our nation and put it on a better path, and he will continue to do so in Congress. With his proven record of creating high paying jobs and standing up for Upstate New York, Scott will bring to the nation's capitol the change New Yorkers need."

Tedisco Concedes; Va., N.J. on the Clock

Republican Jim Tedisco conceded the race for New York's 20th District seat, confirming Democrat Scott Murphy as the winner. Murphy held a 401-vote lead after canvassing and paper ballot counting had finished.

"I am honored and humbled to be going to Washington to represent the families of New York's 20th Congressional District," said Murphy, who thanked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), President Obama and Vice President Biden for their help during the campaign. "I look forward to rolling up my sleeves in Washington to bring jobs, opportunity, and prosperity back to Upstate New York."

"Earlier today, I called and congratulated Scott Murphy on a hard-fought contest and wished him well as the next Congressman of the 20th Congressional district," Tedisco said in a statement, according to Politico.

From the get-go, both parties attempted to paint the Upstate district as leaning toward the opposite party -- allowing political cover for a potential loss and the perception of momentum in case of a win. The parties continued that through today.

However, the 20th District has become a quintessential swing district, best-evidenced by the less-than 100-vote margin on election night. Political prognosticators will now look to the November gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey as potential bellwethers for the mid-term elections next year.

Click through for statements from DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions on the results of the special election.

Continue reading "Tedisco Concedes; Va., N.J. on the Clock" »

Tedisco Concedes NY-20

Republican Jim Tedisco has conceded the race in New York's 20th Congressional District, 24 days after voters went to the polls. Democrat Scott Murphy, whose lead only grew during the recount process, will now succeed Kirsten Gillibrand.

Here's the DCCC statement:

"Congratulations to Congressman-elect Scott Murphy on his remarkable, come-from-behind victory. In this election, voters responded to Scott Murphy's record as a successful businessman who helped to create more than 1,000 jobs and his strong support for President Obama's economic recovery package.

In trying to win the NY-20 special election, the RNC, NRCC, and their Republican allies went all in on the losing gamble that voters would prefer their 'just say no' approach to President Obama's bold plans to get the economy back on track.

Scott Murphy's victory in this district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 70,000 represents a rejection of the obstructionist agenda and scare tactics that have become the hallmark of House Republicans.

With his commitment to reaching across the aisle to help President Obama enact his agenda for change, Scott Murphy will be a tremendous asset to our Democratic Caucus."

I am grateful to President Obama, Vice President Biden, House Democratic Leaders, Governor Paterson, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, the entire New York Congressional Delegation, and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine for their work on behalf of and support of Scott Murphy."

NY-20: Murphy's Lead Up To 56

Scott Murphy (D) now holds a 56-vote lead in the 20th District special election, according to the latest New York State Board of Elections tally.

Murphy began the day with a 25-vote lead, which increased "after two friendly counties sent in additional absentee totals Tuesday morning," The Hill reports.

Saratoga, the district's largest county, still has not reported any absentee numbers. Jim Tedisco (R) won 54% of the county's votes on election day.

NY-20: NRCC Sees Victory

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said today that he is confident Republican Jim Tedisco will emerge victorious when all absentee ballots have been counted in the New York 20th District special election. Tedisco currently leads by 17 votes, with absentee ballot counting beginning today in some counties.

"Following the final tally of votes from Election Day, we are confident that Jim Tedisco's current lead will increase given the Republican advantage among absentee ballots," Sessions stated in a press release.

Sessions is basing this on the number of absentee ballots returned from members of both parties -- 3,111 Republican and 2,394 Democrat. Sessions leaves out, however, the 1,221 ballots returned by those who are not registered with either party.

Members of the Conservative Party, which endorsed Tedisco, returned 77 ballots. The Independence and Working Families parties, which endorsed Democrat Scott Murphy, had members return a total of 168 ballots.

The biggest question may be who wins the majority of the 976 absentee ballots from voters not registered with any of those five parties.

Democrats predicted a 210-vote win for themselves -- based on their vote percentage in each county compared to the percentage of absentee ballots from each county -- in a memo that was leaked last week.

Spinning a District

In Tuesday's special election in New York's 20th District, the margin is now less than 50 votes, and thousands of absentee ballots remain to be counted. Meanwhile, as they position themselves for the fight ahead, both parties are distributing memos playing up the opposing party's strength in the district in order to make their own performance seem more impressive.

Democrats and Republicans, naturally, both want to appear to have over-performed, even if they lose. The result is a virtual orgy of cherry-picking of statistics to try to make the opposition look stronger.

A memo released by the Democratic National Committee yesterday described the district as "overwhelmingly Republican," "Republican-friendly," and "known for a generally rural conservative constituency." It also noted the district's Republican voter registration advantage and low percentage of minorities.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, in contrast, distributed memos claiming that it amounts to a "faulty argument" for Democrats to refer to NY-20 as a "Republican district." On the contrary, the district "has come to exemplify Democratic dominance in the Northeast in recent elections." The memo notes Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won a lopsided victory there in 2008 despite her Republican opponent spending $6 million, an unusual amount for a House candidate to spend in a losing cause.

While the spin cycle was in full effect yesterday, the facts tell their own story. The area that is now the 20th District has historically been difficult for Democrats to win and Republicans currently hold a 70,000 voter registration advantage. But also true is that a Democrat has won the last two congressional elections in the district, including in 2008 by a 24-point margin. President Obama won the district by three points last year; President Bush won it by seven and eight points in his two national races.

Bottom line: Perhaps the only reliable conclusion is that, whatever factors were in play this week in this battleground district, one of them wasn't an overwhelming Obama honeymoon mood.

Campaign Committees Weigh In On NY-20

The two Congressional campaign committees stuck to their talking points during a joint event this afternoon, holding different theories about whether the overtime vote-counting will change last night's result in the New York 20th district special election.

Jon Vogel and Guy Harrison, the executive directors for the DCCC and NRCC, respectively, weighed in during a panel discussion on the 2010 races hosted by The Hotline this afternoon. Vogel said the Democrats' voting model based on an "aggressive" field program gives them confidence that Scott Murphy's narrow victory will stand when absentee votes are added.

"I'll go to facts rather than a model," countered Harrison. He said that nearly 2,900 of the outstanding ballots were requested by registered republicans, compared to just 2,100 from Democrats. Add that to another 904 third-party and independent ballots, Harrison said, and "we feel pretty good about where we are."

Speaking more broadly about what the race says about the state of play nationally, Harrison played up Jim Tedisco's strong performance in a district that President Obama carried last November.

"We're proud of both our candidate and the committee," he said. "We made a competitive stand in a Northeastern race, something we haven't done in a while. And we feel like we're going to be coming out on the winning side."

Vogel argued that the District remains a Republican stronghold, despite Obama's showing there last fall, and said Democrats only picked up the seat in 2006 because of ethics issues for then-Rep. Sweeney, not "a momentum change" that swung other Republican seats to the Democrats that year.

"Look at what happened in the race. We started off 21 points down based on internal polling that was released on the Republican side, against an experienced career politician," he said. "We turned this race from a 21 point race into a dead-even race ... [by talking about progress."

Strategists for the Senate committees were on hand as well. Speaking generally about their strategies in 2010, Democrats pointed to the growing popularity of Congress combined with a president who is fulfilling his promises as laying the groundwork for continued success. Republicans made clear that they'll highlight what they see as excessive spending and massive piling on of debts.

NY-20: A Photo Finish

Tuesday's special election in New York's 20th District is not over, as Democrat Scott Murphy currently holds just a 65-vote lead over Republican Jim Tedisco. One-third of district voters turned out to vote yesterday, with as many as 10,000 more absentee ballots left to be counted.

Murphy and Tedisco are attempting to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who was appointed to the Senate in January. The close result was expected, as the playing field seemed to be evened by the Republicans' 70,000 voter registration advantage and recent election history on the side of Democrats.

En route to a 24-point victory in November, Gillibrand won every county in the district, including Saratoga, where she doubled her opponent's vote total. Saratoga is the district's largest county, and contains twice as many registered Republicans.

This time, Tedisco took Saratoga by 5,000 votes, Greene by 1,000, and two others by less than 100 votes.

The two-month drag race packed action into a short amount of time, and both parties dropped plenty of resources into the district. It was defined early by the partisan divide on the economic stimulus bill, as Murphy continued to hammer Tedisco for refusing to take a side. At the same time on Capitol Hill, House Republicans voted unanimously against the Democrat-written package.

This left Tedisco to decide between sticking with his party and opening up an attack line for Murphy, or saying he disagreed with every single Republican in the House. Tedisco finally came out against the package, but Murphy had other ammunition -- Tedisco's 26-year record in the state Legislature.

Murphy is a political novice, but the Tedisco campaign hit him for his out-of-state roots and Wall Street ties, especially when news of AIG executives receiving tens of millions of dollars in bonuses hit the front pages. While the Murphy campaign consistently referred to Tedisco as a "career politician," the Tedisco camp called Murphy the "former Missouri lobbyist and Wall Street venture capitalist."

Continue reading "NY-20: A Photo Finish" »

White House On NY-20: Wait And See

Make no mistake: if Scott Murphy wins in the NY-20 special election tonight, the White House will have plenty to say. But hours before the polls close and half an ocean away, press secretary Robert Gibbs was hesitant to say much, while making sure to call it a "very conservative" district where Republicans hold a registration advantage.

"Let's wait and see the result," Gibbs said when asked about domestic politics during Air Force One's journey to the United Kingdom. "You know, public polling and even Republican polling that showed the Democratic candidate down 30 points only several weeks ago. So regardless of the outcome, this is a district where, by all accounts -- particularly in a special election which largely, as you know, drives out the partisans -- the real partisans on each side -- to even be competitive in a district like that I think demonstrates quite a bit."

The White House did step up its role in the race, with a late endorsement from President Obama, a cash infusion from the DNC, and a radio ad voiced by Vice President Biden. It's been said repeatedly that the race is a referendum on Obama's stimulus package, if not his administration in general.

New York 20 -- What a District

New York's 20th District, which includes all or parts of 10 counties in the Hudson Valley, is one of those districts that proves party registration is not always an electoral indicator. In recent years it's disproved election history, as well, leaving political prognosticators and practitioners unsure of tomorrow's special election outcome.

The race to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D) former House seat has been called a referendum on President Obama's economic policies, as well as a preview of the 2010 midterm elections. Both parties have poured resources into the race, though the DNC may be trying to hedge its bets, while the NRCC and RNC are going all-in.

Inside the campaign, Jim Tedisco's (R) years of public service (and voting records) have been the target of Scott Murphy's (D) campaign, while Tedisco has attempted to tie the political novice's career as a venture capitalist to Wall Street's role in the dismal economy.

In the district, Republicans lead Democrats in voter registration by a wide margin -- some 67,500 as of November 2008. And, according to the Almanac of American Politics, this area has been Republican territory since the birth of the party. George W. Bush won here by 7 and 8 points in 2000 and 2004.

However, these stats did little to help Republican Sandy Treadwell, whom Gillibrand defeated by 24 points in November. Nor did then-incumbent John Sweeney, who lost to Gillibrand by 6 points in 2006, gain from the sizeable party-ID edge or GOP record in the district. Obama also won the district by 3 points.

In New York's unique ballot system in which candidates can be placed on mulitple lines, both Sweeney and Treadwell won placement on three party lines: Conservative, Independence and Republican -- giving them an even larger registration advantage. Gillibrand was endorsed by the other two parties: Democrats and Working Families. This time, the Dem candidate will get a third line, as Murphy has been endorsed by the Democrats, Working Families and Independence parties.

The race will come to a close tomorrow night, and the victorious party will surely claim a bigger victory than a sole congressional district. Murphy's poll numbers appear to put him on track for a victory, so we'll also see tomorrow night if polling is any better indicator in NY-20 than party ID or history.

NY-20: Murphy +4

A new Siena poll finds Democrat Scott Murphy taking a 4-point lead in the March 31 special election for New York's 20th District. Republican Jim Tedisco led by 4 points in the previous poll, released March 12. Tedisco had held a 12-point lead in a Feb. 26 poll.

Murphy's support among Democrats has risen by double digits since the February poll, when 60% of voters had no opinion of him. Tedisco's support among Republicans, however, has remained steady, with less than two-thirds backing him.

Murphy 47 (+6 vs. last poll, March 12)
Tedisco 43 (-2)

"This remains a very tight race, with intense campaign activity on both sides," Siena spokesman Steven Greenberg said.

NY-20: DNC Launches TV Ad

The Democratic National Committee is making its presence felt in the special election race for New York's 20th District. The committee is airing a TV ad featuring President Obama's endorsement of Democrat Scott Murphy. The ad is scheduled to air on all broadcast stations in Albany through Monday, the day before the March 31 election.

Despite the district's Republican tilt, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) carried it by a wide margin in November, before being appointed to the Senate. Obama is also viewed favorably in the upstate district, where he defeated McCain by 3 points.

NY-20: Biden Cuts Radio Ad for Murphy

One day after President Obama offered his endorsement in an e-mail to supporters, Democrat Scott Murphy has released a radio ad recorded by Vice President Biden.

"As a graduate of Syracuse Law School, I not only root for the orange, I root for Upstate New York as well," Biden says in the ad. "That's why this special election you'll be holding next Tuesday, March 31st is so important to me. I'm supporting Scott Murphy for Congress, and so is President Obama."

The special election for New York's 20th District takes place Tuesday, March 31.

Click through to see the full script and listen to the ad.

Continue reading "NY-20: Biden Cuts Radio Ad for Murphy" »

NY-20: Obama Endorses Murphy

President Obama endorsed this morning Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate in the special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in the House. Murphy is locked in a tight race with Republican Jim Tedisco in the upstate 20th District of New York, with just less than a week to go until the March 31 election.

Obama won the 20th District by 3 points in November, and Gillibrand defeated a Republican challenger by 24 points.

Obama sent an e-mail to supporters announcing his endorsement and asking for last-minute volunteers. "What you do now can make all the difference as we work in the coming weeks and months to lead our country in a new direction," Obama wrote.

Here is the press release provided by the Murphy campaign:

"Scott Murphy is the right candidate for Upstate New York to turn the economy around and create jobs," said President Barack Obama.

"Scott has the right experience, with a record of creating real, high-paying jobs in Upstate New York. Now he's ready to go to Washington to continue that work alongside me and Democrats and Republicans in Congress. He has shown he's willing to take a stand for the people in his district by supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to get Upstate New York's economy moving again."

"Not only will Scott Murphy be a strong ally in creating jobs and stabilizing the economy, he also shares my commitment to improving health care, bringing our schools into the 21st century, and pushing for openness in government and responsible budgeting."

"Scott Murphy will follow in the footsteps of Kirsten Gillibrand by delivering for Upstate New York, and I look forward to working with him in Congress."

"I could not be more honored and humbled to have the President's support," said local businessman Scott Murphy. "I look forward to working with the President as well as Democrats and Republicans in Washington to implement his recovery package, help create jobs Upstate, and ultimately get our economy back on track."

DCCC Releases TV Ad in NY-20

The DCCC is up with a new TV ad in New York's 20th District, where Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco have one week left in the campaign to win Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat.

"The file on politician Jim Tedisco's 26 years in Albany isn't pretty," the narrator says in the ad. "He refused to help struggling New Yorkers, voting against middle class property tax relief. But Tedisco did help a wealthy mortgage executive convicted of millions in fraud, asking the judge to go easy on him. And the convicted felon's company became one of Tedisco's top campaign contributors. That's Jim Tedisco, just another Albany politician."

The DCCC and Murphy campaign have used Tedisco's experience in the state Legislature against him throughout the campaign. Tedisco's reluctance to take a stance on the economic stimulus bill has also been a focus of the Murphy campaign, which released its own ad last week after Tedisco said he would have opposed the bill.

The special election will be held next Tuesday, March 31.

UPDATE: The NRCC released a web ad this morning that hits Murphy for stating that he still would vote for the stimulus even with the included loophole that allowed firms like AIG to give large employee bonuses. The NRCC refers to Murphy as a "Wall Street lobbyist," while the DCCC calls him a "local businessman."

Click through to watch the ad.

Continue reading "DCCC Releases TV Ad in NY-20" »

NRCC Chair Weighs In On NY-20

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) held a conference call with bloggers today to discuss the special election race in New York's 20th District, where Republican Jim Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy are engaged in a spirited campaign.

With both national parties spending money, I asked Sessions about the importance the GOP places in this race; whether they're looking to build momentum from a win here.

"Both parties would be intensely interested in making sure they win this race," Sessions said. "It is important for us any time there is a close race to be the winner."

"We are certainly not sitting around touting that this is over with. And the Republican Party has put its best wishes and its money and its support behind Jim Tedisco. We think he is a good conservative leader, he is well known within the district, and he very clearly, deliberately wanted to learn more about, for instance, about the bills including the stimulus package and how would he have voted. He took time, and then made the decision that he would have voted no."

The special election is slated for March 31, two weeks from today.

On The Air In NY-20

Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco, locked in a special election battle for the vacant seat in New York's 20th District, have both recently hit the airwaves with new ads. Tedisco's campaign launched two new TV ads -- one positive and one negative -- while the DCCC has funded a new radio ad for Murphy, who has also had ads on TV.

Tedisco's positive ad, titled "He's Fighting For Us," features Tedisco and a series of supporters talking up his legislative achievements. "Jim Tedisco single-handedly saved that health clinic," says one supporter. "Told Spitzer: 'no driver's licenses for illegal aliens,'" said another.

His negative ad, "Scott Murphy Never Wanted Us To Know," hits Murphy for his work as a venture capitalist. "Murphy's just another Wall Street millionaire, hiding a past that's threatening our future."

Meanwhile, Murphy's radio ad, "Just Won't Do," defends his tax-paying record, which Tedisco and the NRCC have been using as an attack line for weeks, and knocks Tedisco for refusing to state whether he supports the economic stimulus package signed by President Obama. Newspaper editorials in the district have called on Tedisco to take a stand on the stimulus.

Here is an excerpt from the ad:

The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression ... even more jobs lost Upstate. But Jim Tedisco refuses to say whether he supports President Obama's economic policies ... refuses to say whether he supports the jobs stimulus law. Instead, Jim Tedisco attacked his opponent, and The Times Union confirms Jim Tedisco's attack on Scott Murphy, quote, "misrepresents the facts." Scott Murphy has paid all his taxes.

Schumer Stumps For Murphy

With Congress on a week-long recess and the economic stimulus bill all but signed by the president, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is utilizing his brief free time by stepping out for a House special election candidate.

Venture capitalist Scott Murphy, running for the vacant seat in New York's 20th Congressional District, won the endorsement of fellow New York Democrats Schumer and Rep. Paul Tonko at a Clifton Park press conference yesterday. Murphy is facing Jim Tedisco, the State Assembly Republican leader, in a March 31 special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate.

The two candidates are basing their battle on who can create jobs, with Murphy touting his business experience and Tedisco his legislative experience.

The Saratogian reporting:

Schumer cited New York's alarming loss of jobs as a chief concern -- New York lost 103,000 jobs in January -- and identified Murphy's record of creating jobs and growing businesses as a key qualification in his congressional bid. He also said that developing small businesses is an important way to bolster the economy.

"Everywhere you go, you hear about this. It's putting a dagger in the heart of the middle class, and small businesses are the lynch pin," Schumer said.

"Scott Murphy knows this district because he knows small business, and he knows agriculture," Schumer said, pointing out that Murphy had created about 1,000 jobs during his work as a venture capitalist and has ties to agriculture through his wife's family, which owned a Washington County dairy farm.

Schumer isn't the only Democrat to show his face in the district on behalf of Murphy. Gillibrand stumped for Murphy on Saturday, and tonight House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is scheduled to join Murphy for a roundtable discussion in Poughkeepsie.

Poll Finds Tedisco Leading NY-20 Race

In New York's open 20th Congressional District, Republican special election candidate Jim Tedisco holds a wide lead over Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, according to a poll conducted for Tedisco's campaign.

The Public Opinion Strategies poll, which surveyed 400 likely voters from Feb. 3-4 with a 4.9% margin of error, finds Tedisco leading 50%-29% against Murphy in a special election matchup. Although the poll was funded by Tedisco and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt, the tally is a drastic turn for the district that elected a Democrat in November by a 23-point margin.

"Special elections are always difficult, and we can expect this race to tighten as the Democrats leverage their financial advantage," said Paul Lanne, who conducted the poll. "While Scott Murphy is unknown to district voters, his personal wealth and fundraising ability -- he has already raised over $600,000 -- provide him with the financial resources to make this race competitive."

The survey also found Tedisco with far more name recognition; 51% hold a favorable opinion of Tedisco and 13% unfavorable, while Murphy has just a 12%-5% favorable/unfavorable rating. "While Jim Tedisco is well-known and well-liked in the district, newcomer Scott Murphy carries very little name identification into this short campaign," said Lanne.

Tedisco is the Republican minority leader in the State Assembly, while Murphy, a venture capitalist, has no elective office experience.

"These early numbers are a result of Jim Tedisco's proven record as an advocate for middle class families. Meanwhile, it's clear that Scott Murphy has been damaged during his recent introduction to upstate New Yorkers as a Wall Street financier who is being dishonest about his failure to pay taxes," said NRCC Spokesman Paul Lindsay.

The DCCC would likely disagree with that assessment of the poll, and recently the committee has begun to call out Tedisco for allegedly billing more than $21,000 in gas receipts to the state for a state-funded vehicle from 2001-2008.

"It's no surprise that people know a career Albany politician's name, the more voters learn about how much Jim Tedisco enjoys his tax payer funded perks like two cars and gasoline for him and his staff, the less they like," DCCC communications director Jennifer Crider told RealClearPolitics. "Times are tough, folks are looking for leaders with deep roots in the community like Scott Murphy who don't just talk about jobs, he saves and creates them."

The 20th District is the second largest district in the state and is located directly upstate from New York City, ecompassing counties to the North, East and South of Albany. The seat became open when Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate. For more on this seat, read our previous write-up. A date has not yet been set for the special election.

Senate Seat Fills, House Seat Opens

As one seat fills, another opens. New York Gov. David Paterson's ensuing appointment of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat leaves open a Republican-leaning congressional district.

Gillibrand first won election to Congress in 2006, when incumbent Republican John Sweeney faced extremely bad press (photos of him at a Union College fraternity party, a report that his wife made a domestic violence call to police, connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff) in a bad year for Republicans. Although Gillibrand was outspent, she knocked off Sweeney by 6 points.

She followed that up with a 23-point win in 2008, despite being outspent once again. However, the open seat levels the playing field for Republicans in a district that George W. Bush won by 7 and 8 points in 2000 and 2004, respectively.

Democrats may face a tough challenge holding on to the Senate seat as well. The new senator will now need to begin fundraising for the next two elections, a 2010 special election and the seat's regularly scheduled 2012 election. Clinton spent a total of $75 million on her Senate elections in 2000 and 2006.