Republican Dieterich to face Tonko

Republican congressional candidate Bob Dieterich is acknowledging he faces an uphill climb in his bi

Republican congressional candidate Bob Dieterich is acknowledging he faces an uphill climb in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, as new lines proposed by a federal magistrate make the district more heavily Democratic.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Dieterich said Wednesday, following his kickoff announcement at the Glen Sanders Mansion.

The new district would consist of the heavily Democratic cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy and a portion of Saratoga County including Saratoga Springs, Clifton Park and Malta. It would lose Schoharie County and parts of Fulton and Montgomery counties.

Dieterich, 43, said the race could get expensive, as he would need to raise about $1 million to have a chance to defeat Tonko, D-Amsterdam, a veteran politician. The Democratic congressman is in his second term and served in the state Assembly from 1983 to 2007.

Dieterich, chief financial officer for First National Bank of Scotia, launched his bid surrounded by his wife, three daughters and other family friends. He said he is not a politician and called for an end to partisan bickering.

“I see a Congress where the priority seems to be tearing down the opposition, rather than building the prosperity of the American people,” he said. “I see people far more skilled at winning elections than at making the sound decisions this country needs so urgently.”

Dieterich offered few specifics but said his top issue is the country’s debt and spending, which he blamed for the stagnant economy. He also said the tax code needs to be reformed because people’s incomes are overtaxed.

“I am much more comfortable lending people money than asking them for it,” he said.

Dieterich also criticized the current handling of national security with drug cartels controlling Mexico and the Middle East in turmoil over a growing nuclear threat in Iran. He also said the nation’s transportation and energy infrastructure are in shambles.

Dieterich blamed a “Me First” culture in Congress that he vowed to change with business-oriented solutions.

“I see career politicians who have never had to punch a clock, sit for a performance review with their boss or be held accountable to any quantifiable measure of success,” he said.

Dieterich later said he would support repeal of the Affordable Care Act, explaining that the nation needs health care reform but the individual mandate requiring people to purchase insurance was the wrong way to go.

No other Republican candidates have stepped forward to run. Dieterich has the support of other party leaders.

Albany County Republican Committee Chairman Donald Clarey said he likes Dieterich’s business and military background. The Glenville resident served in the New York Air National Guard from 1988 to 2009 and is currently a member of the town of Glenville Zoning Board of Appeals.

“He’s a good candidate. He’s facing a challenge but I think he’s up for it,” Clarey said.

The changing of the boundaries could help Dieterich, according to Clarey.

“He picks up Clifton Park and Halfmoon and takes up through Saratoga Springs. That’s good Republican country. It evens the playing field a little bit,” he said.

Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman Jasper Nolan agreed, saying the constituents he would gain under this plan would welcome him as they have Republican Congressman Chris Gibson. Dieterich’s fiscal message will resonate with Saratoga County voters, who pay among the lowest property taxes in the state.

However, Republicans could still have a large voter enrollment disadvantage under the new district boundaries.

“We’ll deal with what we’ve got, and we’ll fight like hell,” Nolan said.

Kurt Semon of Glenville said Dieterich will have to fashion his center-right message to a center-left district. However, he believes the economy and rising fuel prices are winning issues.

“I guess Obama kept one of his campaign promises — raise gasoline prices,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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