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Our  Republican congressman Chris Gibson is a likeable and modest guy, and that’s why I’d give him the edge in the ongoing congressional race in NY-19.  In fact, I like him myself even though I won’t vote for him. We’re neighbors and last time I saw him he was just sitting on his porch in Kinderhook as I went biking past.   First time I met him, I was at the 4th of July parade with my grandkids and we were talking for a while and he never mentioned he was running for Congress.  His aunt even asked me to write his authorized biography – until Chris apparently vetoed the idea of having an amateur like myself take on such a task. (Fair disclosure: I met the very nice lady while infilftrating a tea party rally)

And Chris is one of only 500 or so people who read my first book, or claimed to,  and that goes a long way with me, Republican or no.

Chris Gibson has a great story. He’s a local boy who joined the ROTC at Siena College and went on to serve four tours in Iraq and retire as a colonel. In the course of researching the aborted bio, I talked with a couple enlisted guys who served with him and they think very highly of him as a man and a leader.

However, he’s not quite the country boy who went away to war and came home to be a congressman. In 2006-2007 the Pentagon sent him as a national security fellow to the Hoover Institution at Stanford .  If you are not familiar with the Hoover, check out its website  and see if you don’t find its coziness with our military out of line.

While at Hoover, Col. Gibson put together a book entitled of Securing the State.  This is a fine piece of writing, not surprising since Chris has a Ph.D from Cornell  from another sabbatical courtesy of the Pentagon. Available for a hefty  $89.95, the book is not aimed at the working class reader. A fellow military man, Col. Stuart Archer critiques what he calls Gibson’s “military bias” and calls his vision of a harmonious balance between military and civilian authorities as “utopian.” Archer, in fact, accuses Gibson of wanting to “raise the status of senior uniformed officers to unsustainable levels of influence in today’s modern political environment.” Read the whole review , or the book if you havea spare $89, and see if you find Gibson’s dream as utopian as Col. Archer does. Or maybe dystopian?

No doubt Col. Gibson is an interesting kind of conservative, not the typical yahoo, but even so, he has been a reliable vote to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood  and for the Ryan budget. - Although more recently, in a typical ploy, he was allowed to vote for a somewhat different “bipartisan” budget that was designed as a figleaf for Republicans in purple districts. His most memorable contribution  to alternative energy  was to call for nuclear plants here in the district but that was quickly slapped down by irate constituents. On  a happier note,  he has teamed up with neighboring Democratic congressman Paul Tonko to support some promising energy initiatives. I liked Gibson’s  vote against the extension of the Patriot Act but it’s hard to say if that was from conviction or only a vote permitted by the Boehner leadership when that bill was guaranteed passage anyway. (btw Obama favored that extension)

Clearly Gibson has a good chance for re-election. But his voting record is troubling, although the votes cited in Schriebman campaign literature  all occurredin the  first six months of his term:

2/18/11 Voted to defund Planned Parenthood    
3/1/11   Voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil  
4/15/11 Voted to turn Medicare into a coupon program and weaken Social Security
6/16/11 Voted to cut funding for rural broadband by $21 million
6/22/11 Voted to undermine and weaken the Clean Air Act

He may have, like Romney, moved toward the middle when it became apparent that he would be redistricted to a new  NY-19. The previous NY-20 was a perfect gerrymander, stretching from the Adirondacks to the Delaware River and making sharp detours around any city - about as rural and  white a district as you can find this side of Idaho.

So  I went down to volunteer some time at the offices of  his Democratic challenger, Julian Schriebman from Kingston, an area not in the old NY-20 . All I knew of  Schriebman was that he was a prosecutor and the “centrist” who beat my choice, the far more liberal Joel Tyner in the primary. If Tyner had won the nomination, this  could have been a really exciting race with some real issues on the table. Schriebman was the "safe" choice and most of the Dems in this fairly conservative area went for him. So be it, but I was not thrilled that Schriebman had been a CIA lawyer during the Bush years, back when CIA lawyers were justifying torture, assassination and rendition. And although there’s no evidence linking him to war crimes, being ex-CIA would ordinarily be a disqualification for my support. But, as I say, this election will be close and we need a Democratic congress. And he has been endorsed by Move On.org  and the Sierra Club.

I made almost a hundred calls for Schriebman yesterday. Since I couldn’t make the best case for the guy himself, I pushed the Democratic party while chatting with the senior citizens on my list: “The Democrats gave us Social Security and Medicare and the Republicans have been trying to take it away for decades.”  It turned out that was a pretty good argument and I think I convinced four people to switch from Gibson to Schriebman.

As I say, the contest for NY-19 will be close. Gibson is very appealing and did well in the recent debate. Schriebman is not stirring enthusiasm, as far as I can see, but he needs to win. And I will be making more calls and maybe knocking on some doors.

A couple things bother me regarding congressional races and I’d be curious to hear what’s happening in other districts:

During the three debates Obama missed every opportunity to make the case for a democratic congress to support his vision for the next four years. Am I wrong on this? I don’t think he even made one plea for votes for his fellow democrats in the course of the three debates? I’ve seen the television ads but how well in the national campaign supporting  races for the House in other ways?

As to the national campaign offices - The local congressional campaign here  may be suffering from excessive top-down control and I wonder if this happening elsewhere. The two women at the office where I volunteered were great, but there was only one other volunteer making calls. And the women in the office said that they could not allow us to take home voters lists and call from home. Their concern was that they would not be able to get back the data  fast enough if we called from home and evidently the national campaign has made getting back that data a higher priority than having  more calls made. Is this a correct perception?

In 2008 the Obama website provided a means for calling from home and I called hundreds of voters in key states – and I think I had some effect. As far as I can see, the Obama campaign site is no longer set up for this.  Am I missing something?

What’s going on in other congressional races?  What can you say about procedures for calling voters within the next two weeks for both congressional and presidential races?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 01:39:55 PM PDT

  •  Gibson sought and received tea party support (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, alain2112

    in 2010, and then generally voted with the tea party House Republicans, including a vote to turn Medicare into a lousy voucher program.

    Now, in a district that includes much of Maurice Hinchey's former district, he's become slightly more moderate.

    I agree that Gibson has a great life story, and seems to be a decent guy, for a House Republican.

    But he has been, and will be if re-elected, a solid vote for tea party Republican obstruction and austerity.

    Schreibman has been making that case forcefully, hopefully voters are listening and will see past the military hero to the cynical Republican pol who will never do anything to discomfort the plutocrats, while voting to decimate New Deal and the Great Society programs that benefit us non-plutocrats.  

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 02:16:49 PM PDT

    •  The case against Gibson (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alain2112, devtob

      Here's an excellent letter to the editor of the Onenonta Star laying out the case against Gibson.

      If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

      by Valatius on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 02:35:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not such a tea totaler (0+ / 0-)

      Let me first say that I have been a Town Democratic Chair and have been in the trenches for the Dems for many years. I know how this works and know what I see.

       I have been around Gibson for several months now as a supporter not as a campaign worker or as an insider.  In my opinion he is a decent honest guy.

      The National Democratic Party has spent about 1.5 million bashing Chris Gibson on TV and in mailers throught the 19th CD.  He has been up 16 points and 11 points in the recent polls. People are not buying all the Tea Party stuff. Yes he is a Republican, but quite moderate for one of them. Even Cong.  Hinchey said he is not one of the outrageous ones. Schreibman can not sell a lie, no way, no how.

      Schreibman is a trial lawyer so he can sell himself damn good in an interview and even in a debate. But when you peal away the layers there is not much there. I know that first hand.

      He is not fit to be our Congressman

  •  I'm not doing campaign work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alain2112, devtob

    this time round so can't answer your organizational and effectiveness questions, but I enjoyed your diary and learning about a race far from ours here in Ohio.

    Yes, I definitely think it's out of line for the Pentagon to have such a close network with the Hoover Institute but Gibson's book thesis is even more disturbing. From what you've written it sounds like his proposals are unconstitutional, which very deliberately puts military authority under the control of civilian leadership. What with the Joint Chiefs, all the military people in CIA, NSA, other security programs, and agencies throughout government not to mention military contracting, I think we have too much military influence in our politics as it is.

    Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell ya the truth -- B. Dylan

    by ponderer on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 02:19:15 PM PDT

  •  The phone thing is standard DCCC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alain2112, devtob

    operating procedure. They've done that for years. They do not share data even with local and state committees and campaigns. I disagree with their approach strongly but it is not unique to Schreibman or this year. It's just how they do business.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 02:36:51 PM PDT

  •  NOT SO FAST (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    Gibson is currently our congressman -- he is a complete and total asshole who has actually done very little for this area. Thankfully, we will be rid of him after this term. I don't wish him on anyone.

    Just because he sits on his front porch doesn't make him any more desireable than any other teabagger.

    "There's no sense in being precise when you don't even know what you're talking about." --John von Neumann

    by earljellicoe on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 03:20:56 PM PDT

  •  Go to http://barackobama.com (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    and you can make calls.

    •  Nothing there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob

      All I can find on that site is a way to make donations. I'm getting the impression that the 2012 Obama campaign is not interested in people who want to make calls or go door to door. If so, this is a sad contrast to 2008.

      If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

      by Valatius on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:03:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correction!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob

        Thanks for the advice. With some persistence, you can be set up to call voters in any state. I'm starting with Ohio since NY is definitely for Obama.

        If only the DCCC set up something like this for each congressional district, I'd be more confident about Schriebman's chances.

        If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

        by Valatius on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 04:29:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to a Schreibman event tomorrow (0+ / 0-)

    in Brunswick tomorrow afternoon and will phone bank for him on Tuesday next.

    Event is at the Country Diner on Route 7 (just opposite the new Tractor Supply Store at 2 pm or maybe 2:30 pm?)

    I'm interested in sizing him up some more, but have already voted for him as I am an Election Inspector and will be working the polls on Nov. 6.

    Chris Gibson may be personally likeable and intelligent, but his coziness with the Tea Party people doesn't make me able to support him. His support for alternative energy includes the odd event here and there but having seen him at these occasions he seems to be phoning it in more than truly passionate, in contrast to Rep. Tonko.

    Araguato

  •  Schriebman is a very impressive guy (0+ / 0-)

    I live one district up, but I've heard Schriebman a few times, recently on a radio interview, and he's a very impressive guy...great background, a true public servant. I've also unfortunately been subject to Gibson's awful TV advertising. That would be enough to convince me 8-).

    Schriebman's activities as a "CIA Lawyer" do not necessarily put him in line with the political justifications for torture you mention. I think that's quite unfair. I once worked for Congressman John Seiberling of Ohio, who was a former OSS agent and just about as honorable a human being as you could ever hope to meet. People in the CIA work in service of this country and painting them all with the brush of political torture is not appropriate at all.

    That said I think you're right in your calls to reinforce the Democratic messge.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:59:56 PM PDT

    •  Not Impressive at all (0+ / 0-)

      Julian  is all show and no go. Terrible prosecutor, terrible County Democratic Chairman. Way too full of himself and nothing to back it up. I can site trials and results. Just ask.

      He may sound good in a commercial but if you really know him you would not be impressed. The Democratic Mayor of Kingston took Gibson around town. The former Democratic Treasurer took Gibson around Kingston as well.  

      A Democratic Legislator held an event for Chris Gibson.

      I am a former Democratic Town chair. Schreibman has very little support from people who really know him.

      He will get the straight Line Democratic Voters and people who don't know him.
       

  •  incompetently run campaign (0+ / 0-)

    I have made calls for the Schriebman campaign.  Whoever is running that campaign is doing a lousy job.  The staff are complete amatures who do unethical things like photographing the volunteer lists from other Democratic campaigns in the district.

    I am also suspicious of how Joel Tyner's campaing treasurer sabotaged his campaign less than a week before the primary.

    The Schriebman's have a history being accused of using Machivellian tactics dating back to at least 2007.  I dug this up after witnessing the feeble attempt at volunteer poaching.

    These are anonymous posts, but there may be something to them.

    http://blabernews.blogspot.com/...

  •  video of Gibson-Schriebman debate (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a link to  a video of the WMHT debate

    I agree with some commenters above that Schriebman has serious shortcomings but he is right on the issues and will help us to gain a Democratic majority in the House. Even in the unlikely event that Gibson turns out to be as liberal a Republican as the late great Senator Javits, his presence in the House will help guarantee that every effort by Obama will be blocked.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 11:43:56 AM PDT

  •  CIA man? (0+ / 0-)

    I am new here, but don't feel the need to debate the issues as that gets beat to death anyway.

    What caught my eye is the term "CIA man" .

    I have my doubts on that whole story.

    Lets do this backwards to keep it in perspective.

    Julian was most recently the Ulster County Democratic Chairman.  While there he lost the majority of the legislature. He did not find candidates or win any races he should have won. He did not help any candidates and they resent him today for that. Hence many prominent Dems are supporting Gibson.

    Prior to that he tried to run for DA which was not successful. The DA candidate he advised and supported  lost 2 races following his attempt.

    Prior to that he was an assistant DA. He held the record for the most cases overturned in the DA's office. His big case was the Ulster County Jail debacle. Coming way late and way over budget. He did eventually get one conviction of a low level player. That was overturned for lack of evidence and being filed past the statute of limitations. A few months the case was dismissed the man passed away. Bad situation.

    Now Julian graduated a fine law school and may even be pretty school smart.  After graduating law school in late 1997 he worked for the CIA, put terrorists away, was a Federal Prosecutor, etc, etc. He winds up as a line assistant District Attorney in upstate Ulster County.

    That is the mystery. People who go through the Federal Prosecutors office generally go on to bigger and better things, that is of course if they did a reasonable job.

    There you have it, much ado about a sketchy bio. I question his honesty and integrity.  

  •  Gibson's problem with the environment (0+ / 0-)

    A neighbor mentioned to me that Gibson was not as irrational as other Republicans and that he has even been endorsed by environmentalists. I checked the colonel's  website where I found one endorsement that might fit this category.  ConservAmerica is  a “grassroots organization of conservation-minded Republicans” but this group has less than no influence within the national party of climate denial.

    Back in April Lisa Hymas  at the Grist wrote about the re-launching of this Republican non-profit. They seem to be decent people who supported Jon Huntsman but like Col. Gibson, they are so outnumbered by the Neanderthals that they will accomplish nothing. Gibson’s proven devotion to family farming is admirable but as long as he is the captive of his party, he will be unable to act on his convictions.

    Personally, I think people like Gibson, Huntsman, Pataki, Bloomberg, Giuliani and Schwarznegger should split to form a new Progressive Republican Party. Only then will they be able to keep their self-respect. (Of course, it may be too late for Romney shills Pataki and Giuliani to recover even the tiniest threads of  self-respect but I include them for their rational positions on abortion)

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:42:10 AM PDT

    •  Not an outrageous one (0+ / 0-)

      Big Time Liberal Congressman Hinchey said Gibson is not one of the outrageous ones. Hinchey worked alongside Gibson for 2 years. Gibson actually is a moderate Republican. He has worked across the aisle many times.

  •  Moderate Chris? (0+ / 0-)

    Chris Gibson voted for the Ryan budget and voucherizing medicare.  

    Old Scrouge McGibson wants old people to get as much healthcare as they can afford and then they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job to pay for that healthcare.

    The taxpayers our sick of footing the bill for these lazy loafers.   This shows a lot of foresight on Congressman Gibson's part in that this would help small businesses by increasing the pool of people competing for low wage jobs further depressing wages.  Also, if we can get more senior citzens into the job market, they will probably die earlier instead of lolling away their last days in nursing care facitilies.

    Chris Gibson, a man of vision!

    This is all good because it won't affect current senior citizens, just future ones.  Hope you die before you get old.

  •  Gibson refuses to disavow GOP climate denialism (0+ / 0-)

    A quick call to Gibson campaign office confirms what I already knew. After usual doubletalk, staffer concedes Gibson will not dissociate himself from the climate denial plank in GOP platform.

    GOP platform highlights the party’s abrupt shift on energy, climate

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:38:51 AM PDT

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