The Democratic and Republican candidates for the vacant 20th U.S. Congressional District seat officially ramped up their campaigns this week as they both opened local campaign offices. Democratic dark-horse Scott Murphy and Republican State Assembly power-broker Jim Tedisco (R,C-Saratoga) both took the opportunity to attempt to define not only themselves, but also each other in front of sympathetic audiences.
The U.S. Congressional seat for New York's 20 District was vacated last month when Gov. David Paterson appointed then-Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to Hillary Clinton's vacated U.S. Senate seat due to her appointment to the post of Secretary of State in the Obama Administration.
"I have the experience we need," Murphy said to the standing-room only, hometown crowd at his campaign office in downtown Glens Falls Feb. 12. "Unlike career politicians, I have spent my life creating jobs."
Murphy is co-owner of Advantage Capital, a local investment firm which he claims is responsible for the creation of over 1,200 jobs over the last five years.
"Every job lost represents not only a statistic, it is someone's life," Murphy said as he repeatedly hammered home his economy-focused message. "I am here to fight for change for everyone, not for those at the top who need it the least."
Repeatedly Murphy blasted Tedisco, saying that he is on the wrong side of issues ranging from health care to taxes. However, Murphy declined to discuss the specifics of any given issue, instead claiming that his business experience and Harvard education make him the better candidate.
"I chose to make building businesses my business," Murphy said. "I will fight for quality, affordable health insurance and focus on job creation through technological innovation, clean energy initiatives and infrastructural investment."
Monday, Tedisco used the opening of his Queensbury campaign office to fire back, highlighting his years of experience in the State Assembly. In an aggressive tone, he outlined the political nuances of a host of issues including property tax relief, the Obama stimulus package, mandate relief and his support of pay limits for CEOs of companies that received bailout funds.
"The current economy should not lead to a knee-jerk reaction leading to more spending and more taxes," Tedisco said. "I believe we should read every page of any legislation before voting for it," he said referring to the recently adopted 1,100 page, federal $783 billion stimulus package.
Tedisco said that his record of challenging some of the most powerful individuals in Albany stands alone as an irrefutable example of his independence and constituent-centered approach.
"I never have been, and will never be, a lemming," Tedisco said. "No party or special interest group will ever tell me how to vote - the only special interest groups I am concerned with are the citizens."
Tedisco said he supports temporarily extending welfare in order to help people weather the current economic storm.
Tedisco also took the opportunity to take shots at Murphy.
"It is unwise to think of government as a business - government is not out to make a profit," Tedisco said. "I didn't spend my life trying to make millions of dollars. I am concerned with creating a better quality of life for my constituents."
Tedisco said that the citizens of the Adirondack Park have been "ripped off" too many times by a government that doesn't keep promises and too often shifts the burden on Adirondack citizens.
"The governor's move to freeze state-owned land in the park will drastically shift the burden onto the residents," he said. "I will take this fight to Washington as well - this is just another example of rubbing salt in Adirondackers' wounds."
The special election for the Congressional seat is scheduled for March 31.