NY-20: Murphy (D) Closing

A new DCCC poll conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group (400 LVs, Feb. 24-25) shows Democrat Scott Murphy closing in on Republican Jim Tedisco in the race to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the House (via Politico.)

Tedisco 44
Murphy 37
Sundwall 4
Undecided 15

The last poll of this race, which showed Tedisco up 12%, was taken Feb. 18-19 and did not include Sundwall, a Libertarian candidate.

The special election is set for March 31 and does favor Tedisco, however, Nate Silver sees a possible upset in the making.

However, several factors could lead to an upset here and a Democratic win. First, recent polling has shown Murphy edging closer, and Tedisco under 50%. Second, it appears that, although Republicans will again challenge the validity of signatures, third-party libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall may be poised to get on the ballot, which would likely siphon off some Tedisco votes. Third, Democrats are spending seriously on the race, while Steele's efforts have been largely cosmetic. Steele campaigned on the idea that as chairman, he would lead the party back to winning races in territory they've been ceding. Still, his personal efforts behind fundraising on this race have been terrible, and Republicans watching the internal dynamics know it. If Tedisco wins, Steele won't get any credit behind the scenes. Fourth, Tedisco is struggling with his message on the stimulus package, which is apparently tied to his softening poll numbers.

Check out this latest web ad from Murphy on Tedisco's evasion of the simple question: "would you have voted for the stimulus package or not?"

Nate also reports that if Murphy does pull this out, that could be the end of Steele as Chairman. All the more reason to join Scott Murphy's campaign and contribute today.

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NY-20: Pressure Building On Tedisco To Take A Stand On Stimulus

In the race to replace Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand in the House (the special election is set for March 31,) Democratic candidate Scott Murphy has been ratcheting up the pressure on Republican Jim Tedisco to take a stand on the stimulus package, something he has thus far refused to do. Scott posted his challenge to Tedisco over at HuffPo last week and has launched a petition.

Local news has picked up the story. Watch Tedisco slip and slide to avoid answering the question:

Now the DCCC has pounced with a radio ad going after Tedisco:

"But Jim Tedisco refuses to say whether he supports President Obama's economic policies," the announcer says. "Jim Tedisco even refuses to say whether he supports the stimulus." The ad later expands this theme into Dem candidate's support for executive pay caps: "Scott Murphy supports caps on executive compensation for companies receiving federal bailout money, too. Jim Tedisco? Again, he refuses to say."

TPM has the audio.

Despite the institutional advantage for the Republican in this conservative-leaning district, the DCCC clearly sees an opening here, which the latest Siena Research Institute Poll showing Tedisco under 50% and Murphy just 12% back (with just 39% name recognition) confirms.

This race will serve as a good testing ground for how to run on Obama's agenda even in a conservative district.

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NY-20: Democratic Candidate Chosen To Run For Gillibrand's Seat

While Governor David Paterson has not yet set a date for the NY-20 special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House, the local party chairs of the 20th have now chosen their respective candidates (who needs a pesky primary where the "people" decide anyway!?)

Well, NY-20 Dems promised they'd select a nominee before kickoff, and they did. This afternoon, the CD's Dem county chairs nominated venture capitalist Scott Murphy (D) as their standard-bearer in a special election to replace Sen./Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D). Murphy will face Assemb. Min. Leader Jim Tedisco (R). Gov. David Paterson (D) has promised that he'll announce the date of the election soon, and most observers expect a spring contest.

Making the stench of the selection process by which the candidates were chosen even worse, the choice of Murphy -- who has not held elected office before -- appears to have been driven almost entirely by his wealth:

But, given the fact that neither the DCCC nor the NRCC has a lot of money (or, in the case of the national Democrats, inclination) to spend on this race, Murphy's expected ability to self fund came into play.

According to one Democratic chairman, Murphy came to the table with $600,000 in a mix of his own money and contributions, be they pledged or already collected.

Certainly, his ActBlue page has already collected just over $202k from almost 300 donors, a good thing since Michael Steele has already announced his intention to target the seat to fulfill his pledge to start winning again in the Northeast.

"That win will send a powerful signal to the rest of the country...that our game is not up," Steele said of the New York special election to fill the Republican-leaning seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was recently appointed to the Senate.

Steele said he is traveling to New York next week to meet with state officials to map out a game plan for their candidate, State Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.

While the 20th still has a significant Republican voter registration advantage (195k vs. 125k), upstate New York is trending blue and in fact the district voted for Obama in November. This race will be a real fight but an important one, not only in order to keep our majority at top strength but also to deprive Steele of a victory right out of the gate.

Learn more about Murphy at his website and help bring his average contribution down over at ActBlue.

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Stimulus in trouble--what's the strategy?

With GOP opposition to the stimulus hardening in the Senate, there's a very good chance of a filibuster.  It appears that we are three or four votes short of 60 on the stimulus package.

Unlike some in the progressive blogosphere, I do think think the package can be improved a lot.  The House version has a lot of stuff that is easily ridiculed and attacked by Republicans, and gives government spending more of a negative image than it already has.  I favor a reworking that includes more infrastructure spending and less of the extraneous stuff like new cars for the federal government.  And there should be a requirement that any bailout money has to to spent here in the US.

With Ben Nelson (NE) a likely no vote, there are other wavering Democrats--Kent Conrad, possibly Jon Tester, Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu, and there's only one Republican in support--Olympia Snowe.  Are there Senators who would vote for cloture but against the stimulus?

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Does anybody else mind giving up a House seat?

I believe that David Paterson made a huge mistake in picking Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.  One reason is the fact that she is far too Conseravtive for New York as a whole(anti-gun control, against partial-birth abortion, anti-immigrant).  The main reason is that we would almost surely lose NY-20 to a Republican in the special election.  

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