In our enthusiasm to challenge more incumbent House Republicans and open seats, I am hoping we don’t get complacent and assume that all the seats we won in 2006 are safe and do not need our attention. The NY-20 seat occupied by freshman Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is one of those seats that concerns me. Suffice it to say she is up against a self-financed "Big Bucks" Republican in a historically Republican district. I will go into more detail on this race and why it is an important "keeper" for us after the jump/\. But before I lose your attention, I would ask that you consider going to Gillibrand's Campaign Site and make a small donation to help Kirsten hold this seat.
First, I am not a member of the Gillibrand paid campaign team. I am simply a concerned supporter who wants to see her hold this seat. Just wanted to be sure you new this was not an standard appeal from the campaign.
A little bit about the NY-20 district itself. It is an upstate, eastern New York district that stretches from the Adirondacks in the north, down the eastern Hudson Valley and into the Catskill Mountains. You can view its weird shape on this Cook Report Map. This is an historic Republican Gerrymandered district designed to link the rural mainly Republican counties and avoid the urban and suburban Democratic areas. As a district, it is difficult and expensive to campaign in due to its spread out size which calls for advertising in two separate local media markets, a lot of travel and staffing of multiple campaign offices.
Kirsten Gillibrand is a wife and mother of two young children, the second of which was born during her second year in Congress. She is from a farming area just outside of Hudson, New York. In 2006 she ran an admirable campaign and unseated John "Shut Down The Recount" Sweeney. Her win in 2006 was historic since she was the 15th Democrat to unseat a Republican that night making her win the one which gained the Dems. the majority and flipped House control over to us. Boy, did I celebrate! As a Representative she is a progressive ball of energy, constantly working on bills to provide assistance to small scale diary farmers and the elderly on fixed incomes, and holding frequent meetings with her constituents during breaks to provide information and hear their concerns. At the same time, while balancing her family life and a pregnancy. She also does not just talk about open government, she "walks-the-walk" by posting on her Congressional Site, her daily schedule letting her constituents know who she meets with and what she is doing. So if Kirsten meets with lobbyists, her constituents will know. To my knowledge, she is the only Representative who is posting her schedule.
Kirsten’s opponent in this election is Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell. I know very little about Treadwell, and frankly I am not inclined to believe everything I read on the Treadwell Campaign Site. But the facts are that Treadwell served as Republican Governor Pataki’s Secretary of State from 1995-2001. He is very much a Republican insider, serving as President of the NYS Republican Committee from 2001-2004. Treadwell resides in Lake Placid in the heart of the Adirondacks, and there have been some questions raised whether he actually lives within the 20th District.
So that’s the background on the candidates, now let me tell you why I have some concerns about this race, and why I am asking the Kos community to show Kirsten some donation love.- Gillibrand’s district is historically mainly a rural Republican district. Not sure of the actual enrollment numbers, but its safe to say registered Republicans outnumber Democrats. Therefore, it is not a "safe" Dem. district, and requires a majority of independents and some votes from moderate Republicans for a Democrat to win. - As I said above, Gillibrand’s opponent in 2006 was incumbent Republican John "Shut Down The Recount" Sweeney. Many of you may remember John as the head A-hole in the Republican mob who resorted to violence to shut down the 2000 Florida recount in Miami-Dade County. Although it was a close in 2006, polls showed Sweeney ahead for most of the race. However, by election day he had accumulated a good deal of negative personal baggage, from pictures of him in a drunken stupor at a Frat party (Sweeney was in his 50s), to a killer 911 call from his wife and police response to his home for a beating John was giving his wife. The point of all this is that, as good a candidate as Gillibrand was, I am not sure she would have won without the news reports of Sweeney’s many personal shortcomings. This time around (2008), as far as I can tell, she is running against a Republican who comes off as a "nice guy" and has no personal baggage that I know of. - Treadwell appears to be running as a "stealth" Republican. I first heard of him through one of his many TV ads back in July. The ad makes no mention of his opponent or of him being a Republican. In the ad he paints himself as an outside of Washington reformer who wants to "change" Washington. He was doing this way before McCain even thought of it. He even calls himself "Sandy Treadwell" in the ad. Although Sandy may be his legit middle name, he apparently doesn’t think people will be as inclined to vote for someone named "Alexander Treadwell", sounds to uppity. Through his saturation TV ads you would swear he was a Democrat seeking to unseat a Republican incumbent. By the time some voters find out he is a Republican insider, which may not be until they walk into the polling place, they may have already decided to vote for Treadwell, even if they were not inclined to vote Republican. The fact that he is a Republican may not change their minds since they will swallow his TV ad persona. - Treadwell is a Republican dream candidate this year when the RCCC is strapped for cash. He is a candidate who can self-finance his own campaign and outspend his opponent. He was running TV ads weeks before Gillibrand, and still seems to have 2 times as many ads on the air than she does. As I said above, NY-20 is a large spread out district which takes advertising in two TV markets, a lot of travel and a number of campaign offices to reach the voters, and that all costs money. While I am sure the DCCC is providing Gillibrand some financial support, it probably won’t be enough to off-set Treadwell’s deep pockets.
Although the Cook Report has this as a "Lean Dem" race, I have not seen any polls as of yet. Anyone seen any, please post in comments. So I don’t want to sound too negative about this race. Fact is Gillibrand is the incumbent and is generally well known and well liked by many voters in the District. She also comes from a more populated area in the central portion of her district, while Treadwell is from the more sparsely populated far northern end of the district. So while Gillibrand is well known and liked, many district voters will be asking "Sandy Who?"
Bottom line is Kirsten could use our help. I know many of you, like me, have already poured your hard earned money into the Obama campaign and in support of other House and Senate candidates. But if you can, please consider making a $10, $25 or $50 donation to Gillibrand through Her Site or through ActBlue , to help her hold this seat for the Dems. Also, if you live in or near NY-20, consider Volunteering for some campaign activities.
Thank You for your support!