Brief of the Week April 6, 2009

NY 20 TO BE CONTINUED: That tag line from old Saturday afternoon movie serials certainly applies to the results last week in the special election to fill the House seat left vacant by Rep. Kirsten Gillebrand (D.-N.Y.) when she was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in the U.S. Senate. With about 154,000 votes cast (or 40% of registered voters) in New York’s 20th District, Democrat Scott Murphy clung to a 29-vote lead over State Assembly GOP Leader Jim Tedisco. But Republicans were upbeat about eventually winning the upstate seat, since more than 10,000 absentee and overseas ballots remained to be counted. Election officials in the ten-county district said most of the ballots were requested by Republicans, that absentee ballots would be counted by April 7 and overseas ballots by April 13. Venture capitalist and Obama Democrat Murphy spent more than $900,000, supported the President’s stimulus package and budget and ran a commercial featuring an endorsement from Obama himself. The 58-year-old Tedisco was criticized by conservatives for refusing to say for weeks how he stood on the stimulus package. He finally said he would have voted “no” because the package did nothing about the AIG bonuses. He also angered conservatives by not speaking out against the “card-check” proposal that would scuttle the secret ballot in union elections (“Jim is scared out of his wits by the health workers unions,” explained one leader of the New York State Conservative Party, which gave Tedisco its ballot line.) But Tedisco did get last-minute boosts from leaflets passed out at Roman Catholic churches underscoring his strong pro-life position and from hostile voter reaction to the $132 billion in spending in Democratic Gov. David Paterson’s just-unveiled budget.