GOP Candidate Uses AIG in NY-20 Ad Campaign
Even as House members grilled AIG CEO Edward Liddy today on Capitol Hill, the bonuses paid out by the insurance giant to its executives have become an issue in a hotly contested House race in Upstate New York.
In an ad being run by state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) a narrator proclaims that Americans are "outraged" by the AIG bonuses and quickly seeks to draw a parallel with the Democratic nominee in the 20th district special election.
"Like AIG, Scott Murphy gave huge bonuses to executives in a company losing millions," says the narrator, adding that Murphy also supported a "loophole" that allowed the AIG execs to keep their money. "AIG and Murphy -- he's one of them," the narrator intones at the ad's close. (The Murphy campaign points out that a similar ad about executive bonuses run by the National Republican Congressional Committee was debunked by the Albany Times Union.)
The commercial hits the Albany airwaves tonight amid signs that Tedisco, who was once seen as the odds-on favorite for the seat vacated by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), is losing altitude against Murphy despite the district's slight Republican lean.
The ad is likely to stoke an already white-hot controversy in the district over the economic stimulus bill that passed Congress last month. Murphy has said he would have supported the bill while Tedisco recently came out in opposition to it.
National Republicans have seized on a provision in the bill -- written by Connecticut Sen> Chris Dodd -- that limited executive salaries but allowed those same executives to keep their bonuses as evidence that Murphy supports the move by AIG. (Confused? The Albany Times Union has a useful rundown of how the stimulus bill is playing out as an issue in the race.)
The New York special, which is set for March 31, is now rightly regarded as a test case for this line of attack. Republicans are clearly trying to channel the populist anger and angst over AIG -- and the economy more broadly -- and turn it into a powerful political weapon against the party who controls all the levers of power in Washington.
If Tedisco wins, expect this sort of pitchfork populism (with apologies to Pat Buchanan) to crop up a lot more often in House and Senate races around the country.
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