Oct 17th - 4:02 pm
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is scheduled to make two stops tomorrow in her old congressional district with the Republican who now represents it, Rep. Chris Gibson.
Gillibrand and Gibson will appear together in Columbia and Greene counties. At noon, they will by at the Agroforestry Resource Center in Acra to discuss legislation to combat the growing epidemic of Lyme disease in the Hudson Valley, across New York, and around the country.
A press release from Gillibrand’s office notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found New York had 19,543 confirmed cases of Lyme disease between 2007 and 2011. Greene County accounted for 785 of those cases and Columbia County accounted for 1,305.
Lyme disease has been a growing concern for New York elected officials lately. The Senate recently created a tick task force to research the problem and propose a coordinated statewide approach to combatting it.
At 2 p.m. Gillibrand and Gibson will join regional economic development officials to visit with Flanders Precisionaire employees and learn about the air-filter manufacturing process. Flanders currently employs nearly 230 employees who manufacture HVAC air filters for Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, True Value and other retailers with distribution throughout the Northeast.
Gillibrand was elected in 2006 to represent what was then NY-20, defeating incumbent Republican John Sweeney in an unusually contentious race. (The district has been reconfigured and is now NY-19). That was a long-shot victory for Gillibrand in a GOP-dominated district, and her star has been on the rise ever since, thanks to former Gov. David Paterson’s selection of her to replace Hillary Clinton in the US Senate in 2008.
Gillibrand’s old House seat was won in a special election by Glens Fall businessman Scott Murphy, a Democrat who defeated Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in a tight race. But Murphy was ousted in 2010 by Gibson, who managed to hold onto his seat last year, defeating former Ulster County Democratic Chairman Julian Schreibman.
Gibson is now facing a challenge from Democratic activist Sean Eldridge, who reported receiving $5,000 from Gillibrand’s PAC in his third quarter fundraising report.
This isn’t the first time Gillibrand has spent time upstate with a GOP House member. Last summer, she made joint appearances with Rep. Richard Hanna, who was running for re-election at the time, as was the junior senator herself. Both were successful in their respective campaigns.
Sep 26th - 6:55 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson is hinting at his campaign strategy for 2014, and it appears it will rely on painting Sean Eldridge as a carpetbagger.
In an interview with me Thursday afternoon, Gibson said the campaign will highlight the “clear contrast” between the two candidates.
“Well, it’s not news,” said Gibson. “We know that he moved into the district in January of this year and that he very quickly thereafter, in the days thereafter, he filed for candidacy and has been raising money since January. So I don’t think it’s news that he’s in the race. Look, I think there’s going to be a clear contrast: somebody with very little experience and no connection to the district and somebody who grew up there, somebody who has extensive life experiences and working hard to bring people together.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee has been hitting Eldridge for months, painting him as rich, out of touch, and too close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Eldridge is married to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who is also the publisher of The New Republic.
Aug 28th - 8:57 pm
I spent the day with Rep. Chris Gibson (R-19) a couple of weeks ago, and we spoke at length about immigration, the farm bill, and his possible Democratic opponent, multi-millionaire Sean Eldridge.
Take a look at some extended excerpts below.
If you’re a Time Warner Cable subscriber, enjoy the video.
Aug 28th - 5:10 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-19) is emerging as one of the loudest voices against bombing Syria, even after the emergence of reports indicating that the Assad regime launched a chemical attack on rebels.
“I oppose military intervention in Syria, but most certainly, before the Administration moves forward there should be a vote,” Gibson told me during an interview in his district earlier this month.
Gibson reiterated that point Wednesday and joined with 106 other members (and growing) in calling on the President to seek Congressional approval before taking any action.
The letter reads:
Dear Mr. President,
We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate – and the active engagement of Congress – prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.
Mr. President, in the case of military operations in Libya you stated that authorization from Congress was not required because our military was not engaged in “hostilities.” In addition, an April 1, 2011, memorandum to you from your Office of Legal Counsel concluded:
“…President Obama could rely on his constitutional power to safeguard the national interest by directing the anticipated military operations in Libya—which were limited in their nature, scope, and duration—without prior congressional authorization.”
We view the precedent this opinion sets, where “national interest” is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional. If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute “hostilities,” what does?
If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.
Other NY members who have signed the letter include Rep. Chris Collins (R-27).
Gibson fears bombing Syria will put the U.S. in the middle of a dangerous civil war there. His position, however, puts him at odds with establishment Republicans, like Sen. John McCain, who believe President Obama has not done enough to end the conflict.
Watch “Capital Tonight” this evening to find out what Gibson is saying about Syria and other issues before him this August recess.
Aug 12th - 11:35 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson is leaving the dirty work to the National Republican Congressional Committee, deciding to stay on the sidelines as the NRCC unveils a fake campaign website for Gibson’s potential Democratic rival Sean Eldridge.
“I’m focused on serving,” Gibson told me as we toured his district Monday.
He said his constituents are getting tired of the constant focus on elections.
“It’s only been about seven months since the last election, and we already do them every two years, when do we work? We need to work now.”
Gibson is one of twenty Republican lawmakers the NRCC has put in its Patriot Program, which gives extra campaign help to vulnerable Republican Congressional members.
When asked if he agrees with the NRCC’s characterization of Eldridge, Gibson wouldn’t take the bait.
“I can only focus on the things that I can control, which is my representation, and that’s where I put my effort,” said Gibson.
He also wouldn’t weigh in on whether Eldridge, who started a fund that invests in Hudson Valley businesses, has been a productive constituent.
“I’ve not met him,” said Gibson
That will, of course, change if Eldridge decides to challenge Gibson in 2014.
Jul 16th - 3:35 pm
Like the National Republican Campaign Committee, Rep. Chris Gibson would love it if you could check out The New York Times story profiling his potential 2014 Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge.
Republicans are seizing on some of the less flattering parts in the story, characterizing the wealthy Eldridge’s efforts to reach out in the largely rural district as being more than a bit awkward.
Today, Gibson tweeted out a link to the story and — coincidentally! — a photo of the congressman during his time as an Army colonel.
Jul 15th - 11:39 am
The National Republical Congressional Committee is out with a new web ad painting Sean Eldridge as out of touch and intent on buying a congressional seat.
The ad comes less than a week after a New York Times article detailed how Eldridge and his wealthy husband, Chris Hughes, purchased a multi-million dollar Ulster County home to facilitate Eldridge’s likely run for Congress.
The web-only spot, set to the theme song of the 80s show ”Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” hits Eldridge for owning expensive homes “all over the state of New York,” and tries to tie him to the GOP’s favorite target, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Meanwhile, Eldridge’s quarterly fundraising report shows he is willing to dig into his own bank account to fund his political ambitions. According to his latest filing, Eldridge contributed $215,000 to his own campaign and raised $221,728 from donors. Eldridge reports having $639,255 in cash on hand.
“Should he decide to run, Sean is determined to be an independent voice for New Yorkers and not beholden to the countless corporate interests that flood other campaigns,” said Eldridge’s spokesperson Morgan Hook.
Rep. Chris Gibson’s latest fundraising numbers show he took in a little more than $318,000 this past quarter. That’s up from the roughly $135,000 he raised during the first quarter of the year. Gibson reports having $430,986 in the bank.
Jun 14th - 5:12 pm
Sean Eldridge’s just-released financial dislcosure report gives a limited view of the potential Congressional candidate’s wealth.
The report was released by the House of Representatives Friday. All potential 2014 candidates who have raised or spent more than $5,000 were required to file back in May.
Eldridge’s report shows that he earned no salary last year, but took home income from a variety of investments, including those made by his Hudson River Ventures. The report also shows that during 2012 he held positions at several organizations, including Scenic Hudson; the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation and Freedom to Marry.
Eldridge, however, did not have to list the income or assets of his husband Chris Hughes, the wealthy co-founder of Facebook and publisher of The New Republic. Due to the Defense of Marriage Act, which is now being challenged in the Supreme Court, the Federal Government does not recognize Hughes as Eldridge’s spouse.
As more states legalize same-sex marriage, federal campaign finance rules have become increasingly complicated for gay couples. Recently the FEC ruled legally married same-sex couples can’t make joint political contributions. There are also questions about how campaign loans made from accounts jointly held by married same-sex couples would be treated under federal law. The court’s anticipated decision on the constitutionality of DOMA could help clear things up.
Eldridge is hoping to take on Rep. Chris Gibson. Gibson’s financial disclosure report shows his wife earned $5,200 last year working as an adjunct professor at Empire State College. The report also says that Gibson made no money off his book, “Securing the State,” which is selling at Amazon for the rather hefty price of $92.99.
Apr 22nd - 3:54 pm
Rep. Chris Gibson’s 2014 campaign is already getting the help of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Today, the group put Gibson and ten other Republicans from across the country in its Patriot Program, an initiative aimed at helping Republicans in vulnerable districts with fundraising and strategy.
The move comes as investor and political activist Sean Eldridge explores challenging Gibson next year. Eldridge is married to Facebook co-founder and New Republic publisher Chris Hughes.
Last year, Gibson won re-election against Democrat Julian Schreibman, even after his district was dramatically altered by redistricting.
Feb 1st - 12:30 pm
Sean Eldridge, an investor and political activist, is poised to file paperwork establishing a campaign committee for a potential 2014 challenge to Republican Rep. Chris Gibson in NY-19, according to a source familiar with his plans.
The source said Eldridge will also file a statement of candidacy and is “seriously looking at a run” in two years.
Not long ago, Eldridge was perhaps best known for being the partner – and now husband – of co-founder Chris Hughes, with whom he lives in Shokan, Ulster County.
But in recent years, he has struck out on his own, founding a small business investment fund called Hudson River Ventures that focuses on the region’s burgeoning artisanal food and beverage industry, and also getting involved in the push for statewide campaign finance reform.
Hudson River Ventures, located in Kingston, has so far invested in the following businesses: Bread Alone (Boiceville), the Peekskill Brewery (Peekskill), RiverMarket (Tarrytown) and Hudson Chocolates (Poughkeepsie).
Last year, Eldridge created a political action committee called Protect Our Democracy, which he and Hughes seeded with $250,000 of their own money.
The PAC’s goal was to get the “big money” out of politics by pushing for a publicly funded campaign finance system.
Since Tkaczyk’s come-from-behind win, advocates have argued there is momentum and a mandate for establishing a publicly funded system. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said he supports the idea as part of a broader campaign finance package, but he hasn’t yet put forth any legislation.
Gibson, who casts himself as a pragmatist and moderate in his right-of-center House GOP conference, is going to be difficult to beat – particularly in a non-presidential election year that won’t see the surge of Democratic turnout seen this past fall.
Although he was running in a dramatically altered – and Democrat dominated – new district last year, Gibson managed to handily defeat his Democrat opponent, attorney and former Ulster County Democratic Party Chairman Julian Schreibman.
Eldridge certainly is getting a jump on things by launching his campaign this early.
He presumably won’t have much trouble with funding. This effort is in a very nascent stage, according to my source, but Eldridge has signed up a well-connected consulting firm – SKDKnickerbocker – to assist with his campaign.