Final weekend before NY-20 is decided in special election

The race between Jim Tedisco (R) and Scott Murphy (D) for the NY-20 seat (formerly held by Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate), has become – over the last couple of weeks – a “dead heat“:

NEW YORK, March 27 — The only competitive House race in the nation entered its final weekend as a virtual dead heat, with Democratic newcomer Scott Murphy taking a slight lead in the traditionally conservative Republican district, according to a new poll released today.

According to the poll of 917 likely voters, conducted by the Siena Research Institute of Siena College, Murphy now leads Republican Jim Tedisco, the minority leader in the state assembly, by a margin of 47 to 43 percent. The poll’s margin of error is 3.2 percent, meaning Murphy’s slight lead is just outside the margin.

The result was striking considering Murphy, a businessman and venture capitalist making his first run for office, was down by 12 points when the campaign began in earnest one month ago. The March 31 election is to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When Gillibrand won the upstate, largely rural gun-loving district in 2006, it was considered a major upset for a Democrat, with the Republican Party enjoying a 15-point edge in voter registration. The popular Gillibrand easily won her first reelection last year on the ballot with President Obama, who narrowly edged out John McCain.

The Libertarian candidate, Eric Sundwall, was removed from the race this past Wednesday:

ALBANY β€” Libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall gave up his fight Wednesday for a spot on the ballot in the race to fill Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s vacant seat in Congress.

“We are dismayed that the people of the 20th Congressional District will not have the opportunity to vote for Eric Sundwall due to a technicality that hinges on what town or city the voter or witness lives in as opposed to their community of residence,” said Richard Cooper, Sundwall’s campaign manager.

The state Board of Elections ruled unanimously Sundwall should be removed from the ballot because 3,786 of the nominating signatures he turned in were invalid. Sundwall collected 6,730 signatures. He needed 3,500 to put his name on the ballot; the ruling left him 556 short.

This is a move that could help Tedisco, depending on what level of support Sundwall was getting from voters in the district (frankly, it doesn’t sound like much – but in district races, even just a few votes can make the difference).

Obviously the GOP wants to win this seat back, and not just because they’re ready to reverse the Congressional Republican losing streak of the last two election cycles, but also because they’ll be looking to paint a win as a repudiation of the policies of Barack Obama (who recently endorsed Murphy, as did Biden) a little over two months into his presidency. As the WaPo article noted, NY-20 is a “gun-loving” district, which makes me wonder whether or not Murphy’s views on the death penalty for terrorists (he opposes it) will go over well. I’ve not seen any independent studies on this, but it’s been my experience that people who strongly believe in the 2nd Amendment also believe in the death penalty – especially for terrorists.

Read an analysis of recent poll numbers on this race at

Voters will get the chance for their voices to be heard at the ballot box on Tuesday the 31st.

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.

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