Scott Murphy narrowly won a special election in 2009 to replace N.Y. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a nail-biter election. Now he’s up against Republican Chris Gibson, an Army veteran. It helps that Murphy has been campaigning non-stop, but having voted for the health care bill, he may have made himself a little more vulnerable. However, this race is still leaning in Murphy’s direction.
Candidates for New York’s 20th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes all or parts of Columbia, Dutchess, Delaware, Essex, Greene, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Scott Murphy
Political experience: Before being elected to the House, Murphy was an aide to Democratic governors Mel Carnahan and Roger Wilson. He is currently the incumbent representative for the district.
Professional experience: Murphy founded Small World Software and worked for Advantage Capital Partners, a business that helps other businesses create community jobs.
Key issues: Murphy says that agriculture is important to his district, given that there are more than 4,000 farms there. He introduced the Dairy Relief and Market Stabilization Act to provide short-term support for dairy farmers.
Murphy introduced legislation to increase educational opportunities for veterans, including vocational and flight training as well as apprenticeships. He says on his website that he will always fight to make sure the troops get the resources they need.
Endorsements: Murphy has been endorsed by the Independence Party of New York and Veterans and Military Families for Progress.
Chances of maintaining his seat: According to a Siena College poll from Sept. 17, Murphy holds a commanding lead over Gibson by 17 percentage points, 52 percent to 37 percent. When it comes to money, Murphy has the advantage as well, with $1,452,649 to Gibson’s remaining $526,334, according to OpenSecrets.org. This district is leaning toward Murphy’s re-election.
Candidate: Chris Gibson
Political experience: Gibson served as a Congressional Fellow with U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and he completed a Hoover National Security Affairs Fellowship at Stanford University.
Professional experience: Gibson taught American politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of “Securing the State”, a book on national security decision-making. He spent 24 years in the Army with deployments in Kosovo, the southwestern United States for a counter-drug operation and in Haiti.
Key issues: Gibson is strongly concerned about national security, arguing on his website that the U.S. government must be better able to see enemies to help further U.S. interests with those of American allies. He’s a supporter of the Second Amendment and wants to see a national standard for reciprocity, the right to carry a concealed firearm in other states.
He thinks the recent health care bill was a mistake. He suggests the best means of bringing down insurance cost and increasing access are (1) new incentives for cost-conscious consumers of medical services, allowing individuals and families to purchase health insurance out-of-state and (2) state-based as opposed to federal programs for health care reform.
Endorsements: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are backing Chris Gibson.
Chances of unseating Scott Murphy: Gibson is in a district with more Republicans than Democrats, but he’s in an uphill battle due to a significant monetary disadvantage. Polls aren’t on his side either.
Key Differences between Chris Gibson and Scott Murphy
Jobs: Murphy wants limited government to stay out of the way to help create an environment that grows jobs. He would see investment in infrastructure, education, energy and small business and agriculture. Gibson also acknowledges this election is about the economy and that increased spending is the wrong way to go. He’d like to lower taxes, streamline regulations and lower health care costs to bring jobs back to New York.
Fiscal responsibility: Gibson is concerned that if the budget isn’t balanced and soon it will limit the choices of future generations. He wants to streamline regulatory functions and eliminate entire federal agencies to severely curtail spending. Murphy agrees that fiscal restraint needs to be restored and he argues he has voted to reduce wasteful spending. He supported pay-as-you-go rules. He says he has also fought to control Medicare waste, fraud and abuse.
New York‘s 20th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The New York 20th District includes much of the Hudson Valley and parts of the Catskills and Adirondacks.
2008 results: Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand beat Republican Sandy Treadwell 62.1 percent to 37.9 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 92 percent of the district is white, 2.8 percent Asian, 2.3 percent black, 1.3 percent Hispanic and 0.2 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the New York 20th District a rating of R+2, awarding a slight edge to Republican voters in this district.