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Murphy Eeks Out Win in NY-20 Special Election

By Paul Kane

Four weeks after the ballots were cast, Democrat Scott Murphy finally declared victory today in an exceptionally close special election to represent upstate New York in the U.S. House, a race that had been turned into a referendum on President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan.

Republican Jim Tedisco, a veteran state assemblyman, called Murphy today to concede after the Democrat's lead continued to hover around 400 votes this afternoon as the final batch of several hundred votes were being counted. A first-time candidate with government experience in Missouri and venture capital experience in Manhattan, Murphy's victory signaled another crippling defeat for the vanishing northeastern Republican. Ten years ago the Empire State sent 13 House Republicans to Capitol Hill; today, just three.

The sprawling upstate 20th Congressional District, represented by Republicans for 30 years until 2006, still has a 70,000 voter-registration edge for Republicans, but by mid-decade tilted decidedly to the left. First, Kirsten Gillibrand (D) captured the House seat in 2006 against a scandal-plagued incumbent and won easily again in 2008, when Obama also won the district.

The seat came open when Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Murphy quickly endorsed Obama's economic recovery plan as Tedisco wavered on it for weeks, before ultimately opposing it as too costly in a time of
$1 trillion-plus deficits. The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and their outside conservative allies poured about $1.7 million into the campaign, a rare competitive House race in recent years in which the GOP vastly outspent Democrats and their allies. A late ad by the Democratic National Committee included Obama's image, but the party invested just $10,000 in the campaign, a pittance in relative ad campaign spending.

"In trying to win the NY-20 special election, the RNC, NRCC, and their Republican allies went all in on the losing gamble that voters would prefer their 'just say no' approach to President Obama's bold plans to get the economy back on track," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But Republicans said the race demonstrated that, despite the registration numbers, the GOP can be competitive in a district that is now definitely blue in its voting record. "For the first time in a long time, a Republican congressional candidate went toe-to-toe with a Democrat in a hard-fought battle over independent voters. This was hardly a common phenomenon in 2008, particularly in the Northeast," said Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the NRCC.

On election night Murphy held a small lead that dropped into the low double digits as more absentee and overseas ballots were counted. At one point, with more than 160,000 votes counted, the two candidates were literally tied. Tedisco pulled ahead for a brief period, by about 100 votes, as the candidates sparred over which ballots should be allowed to be counted. By last week Murphy regained his lead and never looked back.

"This was a close campaign every step of the way. Ultimately, it became clear that the numbers were not going our way and that the time had come to step aside and ensure that the next Congressman be seated as quickly as possible," Tedisco, who stepped down as minority leader in the assembly, said in a statement.

Some New York GOP officials are already encouraging Tedisco to consider a rematch for the general election in November 2010.

Murphy's victory gives Democrats 256 House seats, up 53 from the 203 seats they held entering the 2006 midterms. Republicans hold 178 seats, and there is one vacancy to fill, in the heavily Democratic district in Southern California previously represented by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

By Paul Volpe  |  April 24, 2009; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Posted by: nullvoid | April 24, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Tedisco cannot win in 2010, he destroyed him image. He is not a resident of the NY-20th and if he attempts to establish that he has to give up his assembly seat where he does reside.

His own party made him give up his leadership position 2 weeks ago and the GOP has now launched an investigation into possible abuse of campaign funds.

How anyone could suggest Tedisco has a shot at running in 2010 is absurd.

The GOP funding would be best spent on causing a further erosion in the Senate where they run the risk of losing 4 - 6 more seats.

Posted by: oldgeek143 | April 24, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are a dying party with outdated, out of touch philosophies. As long as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are their spokesmen, they will continue to lose what little they have left. The educated and moderates have left the party in droves in favor of other parties. The Republican base is centered around the hayseeds and religious extremists in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Whoa GOP!

Posted by: jeffersontao | April 24, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

In case you glossed over nullvoid's brief comment, the word is "eke", a very old English word millennia older than the onomatopoeia "eek". It is related to Latin "augeo" as in "augment", i.e., increase. Also related to "each", and to German "auch" (="also").

Posted by: TheProudPrimate | April 24, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is DOA - couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of terminally greedy, intellectually arthritic facists.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | April 24, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | April 24, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

At least Tedesco had the decency to concede,unlike that hypocrite Coleman in Minnesota.

Posted by: dotellen | April 24, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Norm Coleman should take a page from this book. When you get fewer votes than the other guy, you've lost. It's over. Concede gracefully. Even George Allen conceded to Jim Webb in VA when the margin of victory was close enough that Allen had the legal right to request a state-paid-for recount. He didn't. He exited gracefully, perhaps hoping that behaving like an adult would allow him to come back on the scene later. Then again, Coleman's desperation may be his way of acknowledging that he knows his time is done, that there will be no comeback for him.

Posted by: xcrunner771 | April 24, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

The GOP had a 70,000 vote edge in this race. This is big and bad news for the National GOP. This kills their fund raising. This is what happens when you become corporate lap dogs. Serves you right.

Posted by: stanjax3 | April 24, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Just saw a great documentary film about the Republican Party. It was called "Titanic". Was even better than the one I saw a few weeks ago...called "Deliverance".

Posted by: wilder5121 | April 24, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I give Mr. Tedisco credit for considering the need of his district to have a representative in the House. Unlike Coleman in Minnesota, who apparently would just as soon see Minnesota semi-permanently with only one senator, Tedisco has done the right thing for New Yorkers.

Posted by: jtc2006 | April 24, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

proud primate: feel free to provide more such lessons in linguistics anytime.

Posted by: newageblues | April 24, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I wish Mr Paul Kane, the writer of this article would look up the right SPELLING of the word EKES in the headline "Murphy EEKS Out Win in NY-20 Election. Don't they have any sub-editors loyed at the Wasington Post?

Posted by: alzach | April 24, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Please allow me to differ. I believe the Republican's problem is they need to get back to their base. Now if you're for open borders, unlimited illegal immigration. If you have no respect for people all around the world who are trying to legally become U.S. citizens. If you care all about power with no opposition, if you believe in freedom of speech, except for those who don't share your views, you can vote Democrat. Unfortunately, there are those who would villafy those who faithfully dissagree. You have no right to dictate to others. Unless, of course you are somehow superior to the rest of us. Is that right, are you?

Posted by: whatthef | April 25, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

That's "vilify".

Posted by: sharkcellar | April 25, 2009 3:03 AM | Report abuse

It's humorous reading the left wing bile here while the now One party Democratic State of NY is going under financially.
Lefty loons here will soon see how socialism works..keep spending other people's money until there's none left then the house of entitlement cards collapses...happens EVERY time. One need only look at the financial condition of the decrepit Northeastern States and States like Illinois and Iowa that are one party Democrat to see the results.
The only thing that NY commuists haven't taxed yet to fuel their enormous bloated government is air and that's next with Cap and Trade tax.NY State is a disaster

Posted by: Ronco1 | April 25, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

It's not an "eek" when there are 70,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in that district. The GOP sent "big guns" and tons of money to that district saying they'd turn the corner for 2010. The Republicans are going down in flames and they know it.

Posted by: debbieqd | April 25, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

For half a decade the NY State legislature has been split between the Republican Senate and Democratic Assembly. Only since the last election has the Senate turned blue (and barely). We also had 12 years of a Republican governor from 1995 to 2007. To suggest that the Democrats have destroyed the state, Ronco1, is not fair. Red or Blue, NY State politicians are self-serving harpies. The Democratic "commuists" are just as guilty as the suburban Republican Pork Party. I also wouldn't call the Northeast decrepit. Have you seen the empty shells of exurbs in California and Nevada? Besides, Ronco, don't you have some juicers to sell?

Posted by: NYCchris | April 25, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Come on. This is New York you are talking about and the Democrat barely won and like in Minnesota the Republican was ahead until later votes were counted. Sounds a little funny to me!

Posted by: reneethereseperry | April 25, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Who wrote the headline? The word is EKES.

Posted by: judyk5400 | April 27, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I wonder in what cemetary the Democrats found the votes.

Posted by: gerrypooh | April 27, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

OH! MY! MY! Another republican is the victim of "POLICIES AND CORRUPTION OF THE BUSH ADM." Face the facts people only the FOOLS and misinformed are still backing 8 years of disaster for America where the elite was offered it all and the rest of us was to get some crumbs. Well the crumbs voted and we will not forget.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | April 27, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Norm Coleman is taking down himself and Governor Jim Pawlenty. By the time Coleman is through with all of his appeals, the Republican Party will be as popular in Minnesota as it now is in the Northeast. Republicans seem to be doing everything they can to make their party extinct. Of course, once Al Franken finally takes his seat in the Senate, probably months from now, he will be greeted by his fellow Democrats as a Conquering Hero and as the New Star of the current Senate.

Jim Tedisco (R-NY) has acted like a true gentleman and a real patriot who operates under traditional American principles of common sense and fair play.

Norm Coleman (R-MN) is acting like a -------------------------------. (Feel free to fill in the blanks).

Please visit my Blog: "Conservatives Are America's Real Terrorists"

Posted by: cjprentiss | April 27, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Can't even win after a stimulus package was passed? without republican support? In a district with 75,000 more registered repubs than dems?

Hannity and Rove said this was the tipping point.

They haven't mentioned it since. Go figure.

Posted by: jfern03 | April 27, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

whatthef - sure an open dialogue on immigration is a valid topic. although I strongly disagree with your belief that immigration is the one issue ticket to salvation. i can think of a whole host of other issues that republicans will need to address before they get my vote or that of the more middle of the ground independents.

Posted by: htruman | April 27, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Now would someone please make Norm Coleman stop his cry-babying?

Posted by: binkynh | April 27, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Hannity and Rove had a big smirk on their faces when discussing this race as they also have lost touch with reality . I think it was best said by McCain's campaign manager something to the effect that the republican party is dead. Faux news can't even fool the stupid one's anymore.

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | April 27, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

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