Decision day in Eastern New York

Voters in New York’s 20th congressional district will select their new representative today. The seat in question was held by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (the fake gun-rights supporter, or is it the fake gun control supporter?) until Gillibrand was selected to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate spot.

The two contenders are Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco. Much attention has been paid to this race, which is seen as an early (too early, actually) referendum on President Obama’s economic policies, especially the stimulus plan. Both parties, accordingly, have poured significant resources into the race.

The contest appears to be a tight one. In fact, according to CQ Politics, most recent independent polls show the race to be a dead-heat.

Nonetheless, Jim Geraghty reports that he’s “finding some nervous or pessimistic Republicans [while] most Democrats feel pretty confident.” Perhaps this is because turnout is such a crucial factor in special elections, i.e., those not held on a normal election day. As the Democrat, Murphy enjoys the support of key labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. CQ Politics notes that all of these outfits have “mobiliz[ed] their well-tuned get-out-the-vote operations for the Democrat.”

Perhaps we can offset a few of these union voters by encouarging our readers to go to the polls.

UPDATE: Apparently, this seat once extended into Manhattan, and was held from 1859 until 1863 by Roscoe Conkling, the great, though perhaps ethically-challenged, Stalwart Republican.

Conkling would go on to become the dominant figure in New York Republican politics. His influence caused Chester Arthur to be placed on the Republican ticket in 1880 after Conkling failed in his effort to confer the top spot on former president Grant, and the convention nominated “dark horse” James Garfield as a compromise candidate in lieu of Grant and James Blaine.

When Arthur became president, however, he broke decisively with his mentor, Conkling.


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