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Gov. David Paterson announced today that he will set the NY-20 special election, occasioned by his appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate, for March 31.

The major party candidates, picked by the 10 county chairs in the district, are set -- the Republicans have Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco and the Democrats have political newcomer Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur.

The conventional wisdom is that Tedisco will win handily, in a district that has about 70,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.

But, back in 2006, the conventional wisdom was that Miami Mob Leader John Sweeney, a four-term incumbent, would not break a sweat in brushing aside political newcomer Gillibrand.

We know how that turned out -- Gillibrand won election by six points, and re-election last year by almost 2-1.

Update, some details about Tedisco, and a link to Murphy's first ad, below.  

The biggest news not in the newspapers is that the Murphy campaign has reached out to local netroots types for advice and support.

Andrew C. White, whose diaries here got me and others involved in Gillibrand's first campaign three winters ago, gave some great advice, including:

Scott has got to be ready to show people a truly populist economic agenda and a strong progressive Democratic stance on the issues.

Andrew also recommended, as I did, updating Murphy's website.

It's bare-bones now, but according to a campaign insider, a revamped website with a full issues section should go live tomorrow.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is all-in on this race, sending daily press releases to the media, and doing polling designed to reinforce the conventional wisdom and neuter Murphy's candidacy.

They released a poll Friday that showed the obvious -- that literally career politician Tedisco has high name recognition and a 50-29 lead.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also active in this race, at least in countering NRCC's self-serving poll.

Like this from DCCC communications director Jen Crider in The Hill story:

It's no surprise that people know a career Albany politician's name. The more voters learn about how much Jim Tedisco enjoys his taxpayer-funded perks like two cars and gasoline for him and his staff, the less they like.

Hopefully, Murphy will have access to the Assembly Democrats' clip file on Tedisco, which must include some doozies that will be useful in TV ads and mailers.

Tedisco's extravagant "accomplishments" claims on his website are another area that could use some oppo research.

I did a little Googling today, and found this YouTube clip of Tedisco on the Glenn Beck TV show from August.

Here's some of what Tedisco told Beck, related to New York's budget crisis, that was evident before the September meltdown:

Three out of the four leaders are supporting a Democrat, David Paterson, and the people of New York state, there's only one man who wants to continue to rearrange the chairs on the deck of Titanic, and he also wants to drop the anchor right on the iceberg now, and that's Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Of course, Tedisco does not like Silver, who has reduced the Republican minority in the Assembly to its lowest level ever, under Tedisco's "leadership" -- 41 out of 150 seats.

There's more where that come from -- Tedisco's tendency to say extreme things that he knows will get published/broadcast is the essence of his legislative record.

My humble opinion is that Murphy must run as the Obama/Gillibrand candidate, against the lifelong politician who will do whatever drug-addled Rush Limbaugh wants.

That will naturally include negative ads and mailers tying Tedisco to the failed policies of national Republicans like Bush, Cheney, etc., over the last eight years.

And the 100-percent sure likelihood that Tedisco would, if elected, become an ineffectual obstructionist to the Obama change agenda.  

Murphy has produced an intro ad that's pretty good -- check it out here.

For anyone in the area, the Murphy campaign will have a grand headquarters opening event tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at 3 Warren St. in Glens Falls.

Come on down, if you can.

And, if you have a few bucks to invest in the only race that means anything before November, you can bring your credit card here.  

Originally posted to devtob on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 04:48 PM PST.

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