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All Eyes Today On Special Election In New York

March 31, 2009

The outcome of this congressional election will be an indicator of what the public is thinking about the policies and hopes of America in early spring 2009.  This is what many of us have been watching and waiting for during the past weeks.

Voters in a House district in New York will elect a replacement on Tuesday for Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the Democrat tapped to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate after she became Secretary of State.

That said, a few lessons will certainly be drawn from the race.

The decision by the Democratic National Committee to feature Mr. Obama — understandable, given the president’s popularity — could carry some small risk to Mr. Obama. Should Mr. Murphy not pull out a victory, the result will be seized on by Republicans as evidence that Mr. Obama’s power is fading, though how far this line of thought will travel is an open question.

“I think that’s why he only put a toe in,” Mr. Davis said. “The tradition on this is in special elections, the president’s candidate typically loses.”

Potentially more interesting, though, is what the vote says about the political potency of the battle over the stimulus package — whether House Republicans, who voted unanimously against it, made a mistake in putting up a unified front against the legislation.

Mr. Murphy supported the package; Mr. Tedisco equivocated until, after being taunted by Democrats, he finally said he would vote against it. By every account, that awkward handling of the issue by Mr. Tedisco helped to transform the race.

“Here’s what I think you do know here: when the Democrats stood strong — when Murphy said, ‘I support the stimulus plan’ — he closed the gap 30 points,” said Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff. “You know and I know this should not be dead even.”

Mr. Wasserman of the Cook Report, an independent political newsletter, said: “The race is pretty even right now. But it didn’t start out that way. Republicans started with a known figure. Democrats started off with someone who isn’t known.”

But the situation has been complicated in the closing stages by a Republican attempt to focus attention on the deletion by the Democratic Congress from the stimulus bill of a clause that might have prevented the payment of some bonuses to executives of American Insurance Group. Mr. Tedisco has used the action to link Mr. Murphy, a venture capitalist, to the issue of bonuses, a flash point for many voters.

Until 2006, the 20th Congressional District was solidly Republican; it was one of just six New York Congressional districts that voted for George W. Bush in 2000. The incumbent, John E. Sweeney, had won in 2004 with 66 percent of the vote, and lost narrowly to Ms. Gillibrand two years later after his campaign became embroiled in a series of embarrassing episodes. Republicans enjoy a 75,000 edge in voter registration.

“The fact this race is close at all is a big deal,’” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, the executive director of the Democratic National Committee. “It’s a tough, tough district.”

2 Comments
  1. anderson permalink
    September 12, 2009 11:36 AM

    definitely,he deserves it.

  2. Joe permalink
    September 12, 2009 6:28 AM

    Alan J Gerson had done much for PROGRESS OF NEW YORK

    i think people will consider his activities for the coming council election on Sept 15th.

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