RNC Goes On Air in NY-20 Special
The Republican National Committee is going up on television with ads in support of New York state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in his special election bid in the state's 20th district, an early sign that newly elected chairman Michael Steele plans to wade into downballot races to reassert the party's competitiveness across the country and in the northeast in particular.
The ad, which was produced by Tedisco's campaign but funded -- to the tune of roughly $80,000 -- by the RNC, will be on Albany broadcast television, which reaches 80 percent of the district's voters, starting this evening.
The commercial is a typical bio spot, painting Tedisco as a man of the people who has "dedicated his life to serving others" and touts his work to provide property tax relief and save jobs during his time in the Assembly.
"The Republican Party will no longer ignore the Northeast," pledged Steele. "Our conservative principles are applicable to every county and corner of this country."
Steele has fertile ground in which to work in this his first special election race since winning the RNC chairmanship last month.
The 20th district has roughly 70,000 more registered Republican than Democrats although it had been represented by Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) before she was named by Gov. David Paterson as Hillary Clinton's replacement in the Senate. While President Obama carried the district by three points in 2008, it went for George W. Bush by eight and seven points in 2004 and 2000, respectively.
Tedisco is a well-known figure in the area -- his nickname is "Mr. Schenectady" -- and an early poll released by his campaign showed him with a wide lead over businessman Scott Murphy (D) who has never before run for political office.
Republicans -- publicly and privately -- view this special election, which is scheduled for March 31, as a critical moment for a party badly beaten at the ballot box in 2006 and again in 2008.
A win in New York's 20th would almost certainly enliven -- to a certain extent -- the Republican activist and donors bases, an absolute necessity for the GOP to run competitive 2009 races in Virginia and New Jersey and to reclaim some of their losses in the House and Senate in 2010 and, especially, 2012.
But, while national Republicans probably need this seat more than Democrats do, Murphy is running aggressively -- the latest evidence of which is his well-reviewed first ad (entitled "Sunday Dinner").
It remains to be seen whether the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which currently holds $16.4 million in debt, will dig into its pockets to help Murphy on the air and in the mailboxes of voters in the district.
February 17, 2009; 3:45 PM ET
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