State and national Republicans are focusing all of their efforts on recapturing the congressional seat that was occupied for the past two years by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand before she was picked to fill Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat.
And Democrats will work just as hard to make sure that they don’t.
In what is likely to be a short and expensive race, the matchup has been set between Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and the Democratic Party’s candidate, Glens Falls venture capitalist Scott Murphy, who was selected by party leaders Sunday.
Gov. David Paterson has not said when he will make the proclamation to hold a special election, meaning that other parties’ candidates still have time to throw their hats in the ring. Once Paterson makes the proclamation, the election must occur between 30 and 45 days after.
Tedisco formally kicked off his campaign Tuesday afternoon at a rally at his new campaign headquarters in Halfmoon, while Murphy has been quiet. Murphy could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Part of the sprawling congressional district has already voted for Tedisco; the 20th District includes part of his 110th Assembly District. The Schenectady native, who played basketball at Union College, is known for his basketball stories and as one of the most vocal state Republican leaders.
“I can hit the ground running, and I will,” Tedisco said. “I don’t need any on-the-job training. I’ve been in the trenches.”
Tedisco said the national Democratic Party will spend big bucks to keep the seat blue. And the GOP is likely to spend big on the race as well.
Recently elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has made it clear in national media interviews that the 20th District seat is a priority this year, along with gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.
“We’re going to be on the ground and engaged in all those campaigns,” he said on the set of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace this week. Steele also said he plans to meet with party leaders here.
At his Tuesday rally, Tedisco played up his working-class background in an effort to reach out to people struggling through the economic recession.
His late father worked at the foundry at General Electric, and he and his 94-year-old mother, Beatrice, “sacrificed and they saved,” Tedisco said.
Stimulating the economy through job creation and lower taxes would be his first priority in office, Tedisco said.
Tedisco spokesman Joshua Fitzpatrick said the assemblyman has started raising funds and cultivating grassroots support, including a Women for Tedisco group that formed Saturday in Saratoga Springs.
At the Tuesday rally, the candidate was filmed by a hired camera crew from Shenise Productions that is already preparing TV ads for him.
The 38-year-old Murphy emphasized previously that creating jobs and small business growth is his specialty.
Murphy has worked for Advantage Capital Partners for the past eight years. He worked on Wall Street for Bankers Trust for two years in the early 1990s and then created an online sports game called Small World Sports and sold it to The Sporting News.
He also founded Small World Software — now renamed iXL — and took it public while managing a staff of 280 people.
The Harvard University graduate worked for two Democratic governors in Missouri and served as deputy chief of staff under one of them.