An embarrassment of Democrats (3): Eldridge edition

Chris Gibson represents New York’s Nineteenth Congressional District. He is an Iraq war vet and a Republican. He was elected to Congress in the wave of 2010. It’s a D+1 district, so Gibson’s reelection is far from a gimme.

I don’t know him, but Gibson is the kind of guy who makes me proud to be a Republican. His campaign site is here. The site includes a profile of Gibson that briefly summarizes his service:

Over the course of his 24 year Army career, Chris rose to the rank of Colonel and deployed seven times. This included four combat tours to Iraq, and separate deployments to Kosovo, the Southwestern US for a counter-drug operation, and most recently – just prior to his retirement – Haiti where he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) during the opening month of that humanitarian relief operation. The Secretary of the Army awarded the BCT the Superior Unit Award for their actions in Haiti.

Chris earned two Legions of Merit, four Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab. For their actions in Mosul in support of the first national election in the new Iraq, his Battalion Task Force earned the Valorous Unit Award. For their actions in Tal Afar during the 2nd and 3rd national elections in Iraq his Battalion and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were recognized for excellence by President George W. Bush and earned a 2nd Valorous Unit Award.

Running against Gibson as he seeks reelection this November is Democrat Sean Eldridge. If I were a Democrat, I would be embarrassed to have to support this guy for office against anyone, but especially against a stellar incumbent like Gibson. Among other things, Eldridge has only recently moved to the district with his husband, Facebook gazillionaire and current New Republic owner Chris Hughes. Eldridge moved to the district to run for office. In an excellent look at the race, Politico called Eldridge’s candidacy “brazen.”

As I say, embarrassing.

Then New York Times reporter Ray Hernandez provided an unillusioned look at the Eldridge phenomenon in the article “Young, rich and relocating yet again in hunt for political office.” Hernandez introduced the story thusly:

This is the story of how one young couple came to the Hudson Valley with a fortune and big political dreams.

Two years ago, Sean Eldridge and his husband, the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, bought a $5 million estate in Garrison, about 50 miles north of New York City. It offered 80 acres of rolling fields and a farmhouse once owned by a Vanderbilt. It would also allow Mr. Eldridge, 26, to run for the local Congressional seat if he chose to.

But that seat appeared unattainable, and soon the couple’s gaze shifted north, to the neighboring district. In January, they bought a $2 million modern home here overlooking a reservoir, laying the groundwork for Mr. Eldridge’s campaign for their new local Congressional seat, New York’s 19th.

Word of Mr. Eldridge’s political plans has delighted the friends who make up his social circle: Donors to his exploratory committee include George Soros, the billionaire financier, and Sean Parker, the tech entrepreneur behind Napster and Spotify.

But his ambitions have puzzled some residents among the farmers, mill workers and small-business owners who populate this district, which rises through the Catskills and rolls north through cornfields and apple orchards to the Vermont border….

As I say, embarrassing.

Eldridge can’t even give a straight answer to the question whether he will remain in the district in the event his husband’s millions fail to unseat Gibson. The Free Beacon noted Eldridge’s nonresponse to the question in “Carpetbaggers gonna carpetbag.”

In the interest of pursuing the humorous side of politics, the Free Beacon has stayed on Eldridge’s case, as in “Man of the people” and “Sean Eldridge on defense in new ads.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee has been following this race. It recently reported:

YO NO QUIERO TACO BELL. Sean Eldridge, in his latest attempt to try to relate to average voters in New York’s 19th District, told the editorial board of the Daily Freeman that his experience working at a Taco Bell – in high school – helps him relate to the middle class. Eldridge wants Hudson Valley families to rest assured knowing that he understands their issues because one summer he worked at Taco Bell.

As I say embarrassing.

What does Eldridge have to offer? He is “liberally” spreading “his” money around the district through the investment firm Hudson River Ventures. The Politico article notes:

Hudson River Ventures made its first investment in late 2012, as talk of an Eldridge political bid simmered. The firm has focused its giving on the culinary industry, which is crucial to the agriculturally rich Hudson Valley. It has provided money to local businesses such as Prohibition Distillery, Continental Organics and Bread Alone bakery, according to the firm’s website. Hudson River Ventures, aides say, is strictly for-profit. Eldridge’s advisers won’t say how many jobs the firm has created.

The site lists investments in 19 businesses, the majority within the confines of the 19th District. Aides won’t disclose how much Hudson River Ventures has spent in total, but they say investments range from $50,000 to $500,000 each.

Eldridge has also personally donated $250,000 to a 3-D printing project at SUNY New Paltz, which is in the district.

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Eldridge’s team denies that the venture capital firm and campaign are coordinated. But the overlap is undeniable.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Eldridge is in favor of campaign finance reform? Politico quotes him in a 2013 radio interview: “We will certainly do what we need to do to be competitive and win next year. But at the same time, when I am in Congress I will be a loud and consistent advocate for campaign-finance reform.”

As I say, embarrassing.

You can contribute to Gibson here.

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