To give you some idea how Republican is the district Kirsten Gillibrand left to take her Senate seat, GOP candidate Jim Tedisco (pictured left) leads Dem candidate Scott Murphy in the special election scheduled there for March 31 by 12 points, says a Siena poll. Tedisco leads in every category of preference, including “successfully ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Gillibrand, whose NRA credentials and ties to local Republican bigwigs helped her hold power in a conservative upstate district, gave Tedisco a shout-out at her appointment press conference. But she has endorsed the political neophyte Murphy, and that has probably helped him — three weeks ago, before the endorsement, a poll found Murphy 21 points behind. (Newsday now calls the race “competitive.”) Murphy also has an opportunity in the 20 percent of polled voters who have expressed no opinion, though in a low-turnout race, which this figures to be, such voters usually stay home.
Republicans want the seat badly. Gillibrand has been understandably too busy to be of much assistance to Murphy, but she starts campaigning in earnest for him on March 4. As she is more closely connected now in the public imagination with the New York Democratic elite than in the past, it’ll be interesting to see what further effect her support has.