We mentioned earlier that, as Libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall has been disqualified from the race, we expected Republican Jim Tedisco to gain ground over Democrat Scott Murphy in Tuesday’s special election to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand in the House. Murphy is, after all, the candidate of the more statist Party. Others thought so too.
Now we learn that Sundwall has endorsed Murphy.
At his campaign site, Sundwall says:
Mr. Tedisco denies any involvement with the concerted effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot. I don’t believe him. The ruthless effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot without a word of protest by him proves his unfitness for any office let alone Congress in these critical times.
I will be voting for Scott Murphy on Tuesday. While we disagree on some important issues, I find him to be a man of honor, a good family man and successful businessman. Unlike Tedisco, he actually lives in the District. And, unlike Mr. Tedisco, I view Scott’s business success as a virtue, not a vice.
I urge my supporters and all those who believe in open and free elections to show their disgust at the tactics of the Republican political machine to win at all costs. Please join me in voting for Scott Murphy on Tuesday.
Now, Sundwall was polling less than 5 percent in the race, but with the latest Siena Poll showing Murphy’s margin as less than that, Sundwall’s endorsement may be significant. It depends on whether Sundwall’s supporters are more devoted to libertarianism, or to Sundwall.
We understand Sundwall’s objection. His place on the ballot was, after all, mainly challenged by parties sympathetic to Tedisco, who may have thought that Libertarian votes would have come out of his tally, as libertarians are generally thought to be part of the Republican small-government coalition.
But Tedisco didn’t run hard as a small-government candidate. He was slow to oppose the Obama stimulus package. He appeared to perceive the district as mixed — though it’s very Republican, it twice elected the Democrat Gillibrand — and to have sent mixed messages in response.
That’s an understandable analysis, but will it turn out to have been a blunder? The results will tell, and they are not a sure thing. In the last ditch Tedisco’s supporters are hitting Republican culture-war themes — including Osama Bin Laden. Tedisco has also signed onto an anti-tax pledge and called for Tim Geithner to resign. At the same time, he has rejected the influence of Rush Limbaugh, on the grounds that the radio host’s agitations do not apply to the people of his district. In other words, he is running an old-fashioned surburban Republican campaign. Maybe that’s all this old-fashioned candidate — a 27-year political veteran, and current state assembly minority leader — knows how to run. We’ll see soon enough if it’s still a winning strategy for a New York Republican.