Eldridge Campaign Hits Back On Gibson’s Energy Tax Pledge

The campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge is knocking Rep. Chris Gibson for signing on to a “no climate tax” pledge that is supported by Americans For Prosperity, a group founded by industrialists David and Charles Koch.

Gibson on Capital Tonight Thursday knocked Eldridge’s stance on energy taxes, saying it’s more evidence that he’s out of step with the congressional district.

“My opponent criticizes me for opposing energy taxes, he shows he’s not from here,” Gibson said.

Eldridge’s campaign, though, says this line is a reference to the AFP pledge.

“Politician Chris Gibson claims in an election year that he is in line with his constituents on the environment, but the Real Chris Gibson signed the Koch Brothers pledge and has an 33 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters,” said spokesman Morgan Hook. “If Chris Gibson is so proud of his record in Washington – as he says – then why doesn’t he just come clean to New Yorkers about his commitment to the Koch brothers to take no meaningful action on climate change? Voters in NY-19 know where Sean Eldridge stands on the issues, including his opposition to hydro-fracking and his efforts as a former board member of Scenic Hudson to protect our environment and prepare communities in the Hudson Valley for climate change and sea level rise.”

The Koch brothers and their political activities, of course, remain useful foils for Democratic candidates around the country, Eldridge’s campaign not being an exception.

Gibson: Ryan Budget Vote ‘Wasn’t Necessary’

Rep. Chris Gibson, facing a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge, questioned the point of voting on the latest budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, suggesting that it was a mistake for the House leadership to do so.

“Yes. It wasn’t necessary,” Gibson said when asked if he thought the Ryan budget vote was a mistake. “We already have a budget. We should be focusing on the appropriations bills.”

Gibson has supported one spending plan proposal made by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2012 and a potential candidate in 2016 as well.

Since then, Gibson has supported a variety of budget compromises he has framed as having far more bipartisan support.

In a Capital Tonight interview, Gibson called the latest Ryan plan “a political messaging document.”

“The Senate does the same with their particular issues,” Gibson added.

Despite Gibson’s no vote on the Ryan budget, Eldridge has still criticized Gibson for basically wanting it both ways, noting that he backs aspects of Ryan’s proposals, but still gets to claim his opposition.

Gibson has sought to stress his moderate credentials in the Hudson Valley congressional district, which was redrawn in 2012 by a federal judge during the re-apportionment process.

He once again noted that Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, “married well” as he first did with Politico.

“He married into money,” he said. “He did well on that score.”

Gibson added that Eldridge is trying to buy the congressional seat.

“The only reason why this guy is the candidate is money,” Gibson said. “It’s money. That’s the only reason.”

Eldridge, has contributed roughly $900,000 to his own campaign, but has emphasized his small-dollar donations when reporting his campaign contributions.

His campaign, in turn, has criticized Gibson for accepting money from political action committees.

Republicans, as well as Gibson, are also continuing to paint Eldridge as a carpetbagger in the district with little experience.

“He has relatively no experience,” Gibson said. “He has no ties to the district. It shows he’s out of touch in the district.”

Gibson Voted Against Ryan Budget, But Eldridge Says Its Still An Issue (Updated)

From the morning memo:

Can the latest — and last — austerity budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan be a political problem for Rep. Chris Gibson even if he voted against it?

His Democratic challenger, Sean Eldridge, believes it can be.

Eldridge has criticized Gibson’s support for aspects of the Ryan budget plan ranging from tax cuts to changes to Medicaid.

Eldridge in a statement suggested Gibson is essentially trying to have it both ways as he runs for re-election in a decidedly purple-tinged swing district.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen Chris Gibson act like a typical politician in an election year, but voters have the right to know where he stands on these important issues,” Eldridge said. “Unlike Chris Gibson, there is no mistaking my view on the policies the Ryan budget promotes. I would never support them, regardless of which way the political winds are blowing. The Republican budget proposals are dangerous for the Hudson Valley, and wrong for everyday Americans.”

The fight for the Hudson Valley congressional seat — the NY-19 — is expected to be one of the most heated, and expensive, House races this fall.

Updated: State Republican spokesman David Laska sent this statement along earlier (Which I neglected to spot this morning).

“If Sean Eldridge isn’t a typical politician, it’s because most politicians don’t spend their husband’s money trying to buy elections in districts they just moved into. Sean Eldridge’s utter lack of experience and connections to the 19th Congressional District make it no surprise that, as we learned yesterday, he’s struggling to fill senior campaign positions as he pursues his vanity candidacy.”

State GOP Spokesman To Eldridge Campaign: Why Not Hire Baghdad Bob

As Sean Eldridge’s congressional campaign searches for a new spokesperson, the communications director for the state Republican Committee has a recommendation: Baghdad Bob, of Gulf War II fame.

In a letter to the Eldridge campaign, Republican spokesman David Laska — jokingly, let’s assume — suggests the one-time Saddam Hussein spokesman Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, nicknamed Baghdad Bob during the lead up to and aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war.

The letter comes after BuzzFeed found a help wanted ad for a “young, energetic” spokesperson to work on the campaign following a particularly unflattering story in Politico about Eldridge’s campaign efforts.

Eldridge, a 27-year-old investor, is seeking to take on Republican Rep. Chris Gibson this fall.

Here’s the letter from Laska:

Eldridge Recommendation by Nick Reisman

Eldridge Raises $520K, Gibson $459K

Democratic House hopeful Sean Eldridge raised $520,943, spending just over $200,000 through this reporting period.

Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has contributed $965,000 of his own money to the effort so far, and has $1.58 million in cash on hand.

Though he’s received high-profile support from wealthy contributors, Eldridge has been touting the small-dollar donations he’s received and itemized each contribution in his filings.

“The support we’re getting from across the district shows that New Yorkers want new leadership, and I’m proud that we’re running a different kind of campaign. Unlike Congressman Chris Gibson, we publicly disclose every contribution we receive and we refuse to accept money from corporate PACs that have too much power in Washington already,” Eldridge said in a statement

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson reported $459,000 and has $1.2 million in cash on hand, his campaign announced in a news release.

“While we know our opponent will continue to use his billion dollar fortune to try and buy this election, our strong local support cannot be matched. Our campaign gathered 5,000 more signatures than our opponent to appear on the ballot and has raised more local money,” said Stephanie Valle, spokeswoman for the Congressman. “This is reflective of Chris’s record of service and putting Upstate New York first in every action he takes. Though we expect we’ll be outspent, we’re confident we will have the resources we need to win decisively once again.”

MoveOn Pressures Gibson, Grimm With Minimum Wage Poll

MoveOn today released a series of PPP polls of 13 “vulnerable” GOP House districts – including two in New York – that show a majority of voters in each support the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, which has been a top priority of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

The NY-19 poll, which appears below, shows 60 percent of Rep. Chris Gibson’s constituents support raising the hourly wage at the federal level from $7.25 to $10.10, while 36 percent are opposed and 4 don’t have a position.

Fourty-four percent said they would be less likely to vote for Gibson if he voted against raising the wage, while 27 percent said they’d be more likely to vote for him and 26 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Gibson is facing a challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge this fall. MoveOn members plan to demonstrate outside Gibson’s Cooperstown offices at noon tomorrow to demand he support an increase in the minimum wage also to deliver petition signatures from constituents.

Similar actions are scheduled outside the offices of every House member whose district was polled, including Gibson’s Republican colleague, Rep. Michael Grimm, in NY-11. Grimm is facing a challenge this fall from former Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia.

NY 19 Minimum Wage Polling Results by MoveOn_org

Gibson Shuffles Staff

Hudson Valley Republican Rep. Chris Gibson on Monday announced a series of changes to his office staff.

His primary spokeswoman, Capital Region native Stephanie Valle, is being promoted to chief of staff.

Valle previously held the title of deputy chief of staff and communications director, and has worked for Gibson since 2011, replacing Steve Stallmer. She’ll continue her work as spokeswoman for Gibson’s office.

Stallmer, who is running in the 113th Assembly district seat vacated by Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan, will stay on as a part-time advisor to Gibson on legislative and district issues.

“Both in Washington and across the 19th District, I have assembled a staff that can help serve the constituents I am privileged to represent. Stephanie, Brad, Matt and Ann have all been members of my staff since I was first elected to Congress, and their dedication, insight, and work ethic have been a model for the rest of our staff. I am confident they will all excel in these new roles,” said Congressman Gibson. “Additionally, I want to thank Steve Stallmer for his outstanding tenure as my Chief of Staff for over three years. Steve led our office with distinction and his personal integrity and commitment to Upstate New York will serve him well in his future endeavors.”

More staff changes are after the jump. More >

Guilt By Association

Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge is again trying to cast his GOP target, Rep. Chris Gibson, as an ultra-conservative who is out of touch with his constituents by linking him to a purportedly nonpartisan organization founded by one of his former staffers.

Earlier today, Eldridge’s campaign slammed Gibson for attending a forum tonight hosted by Upstate New York Taxpayers Advocates, or UNYTA, which bills itself as nonpartisan, but also says on its website that it was created ” by concerned North Country citizens who decided to take action to support true fiscal conservative candidates for public office and to speak out against wasteful government spending.”

“All are invited who believe that it is our moral duty to get our fiscal house in order,” the site reads. “You could argue it is the greatest moral challenge America has faced since slavery. And it starts here at home. We invite you to join us.”

Eldridge’s campaign noted that former GOP VP candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – an outspoken conservative and Tea Party darling - once compared the US debt to slavery, claiming that young Americans would be shackled by the country’s out-of-control spending habits.

UNYTA was co-founded by Mark Westcott, who currently sits on the organization’s executive committee. Westcott was Gibson’s campaign director for his 2012 re-election bid and the former deputy director in his district office. He was paid $43,869 by Gibson’s campaign that year.

“Tonight’s forum is classic Chris Gibson: Organized by his political donors and long-time allies who hold an extremely conservative world view, so that he can talk about how bipartisan he is. Is anyone buying this?” said Eldridge’s campaign manager Mike Reid.

Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said Westcott was paid in 2012 for work he did as the congressman’s campaign manager, but noted that had nothing at all to do with UNYTA, which was not formed until after Wetscott had already left the Gibson payroll. And then she fired off this response:

“First, Congressman Gibson regularly meets and speaks with respect to individuals and groups across the political spectrum – a skill Sean Eldridge clearly has not yet mastered or even attempted. ”

“Furthermore, after months of hiding from taking a position on anything, it’s good to know that Sean Eldridge actually stands for something. New Yorkers can know that a vote for Sean Eldridge is a vote for unrestrained spending, taxing and borrowing that will reverse the trend of lower deficits and our work toward a balanced budget.”

“Sean Eldridge does not think our country is facing a fiscal crisis, so future generations can count on Sean’s representation bringing more unsustainable debt that will cripple our economy, threaten our national security, and crowd out spending on the essential safety net programs the federal government supports. Given that Sean lacks an affiliation with Upstate New York and identity with the need to actually budget, such a viewpoint is not surprising.”

It is worth noting that while his opponents have tried to cast Gibson as an extreme conservative pretty much since the day he was elected, the congressman insists he’s a pragmatic and middle-of-the-road Republican – in other words, a member of that increasingly rare class of GOP moderates. The National Journal, which annually ranks House and Senate members from most liberal to most conservative, agrees with that assessment.

Gillibrand Backs Eldridge (Updated)

Though U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had initially told Liz in an interview she was going to be staying out of politics for now, the state’s junior senator announced this morning she’s endorsing Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge.

“I’m proud to endorse Sean Eldridge for Congress. Sean has a proven track-record working to create jobs and grow our economy in Upstate New York,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “He’s partnered with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike to grow small businesses and expand economic opportunity. I had the honor of representing much of NY-19 in Congress, and I know that Sean will be a terrific representative for middle class families in the region.”

Gillibrand had previously endorsed Eldridge through her pocketbook, after her political action committee contributed $5,000 to Eldridge’s campaign for the Hudson Valley House seat.

Eldridge is running for the NY-19, a seat held by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.

Prior to redistricting in 2012, Gibson held Gillibrand’s old House seat in the NY-20 after defeating Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy.

“I’m honored to have Senator Gillibrand’s support,” said Sean Eldridge. “She has been an incredible champion for our region and our state, and I look forward to partnering with her in Congress to fight for middle class families and work on common sense solutions that will grow our economy and create jobs.”

Updated: David Laska from the state GOP sends along this statement.

“It makes sense that Kirsten Gillibrand would endorse Sean Eldridge,” Laska said. “Both are vapid partisan hacks who owe their political careers to their family’s money and influence.”

Eldridge Gets A Boost From D-Trip (Updated)

Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge is being elevated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Jumpstart” program for top-tier candidates.

The distinction provides candidates with more party infrastructure financial, communications and strategic support heading into the 2014 elections. Eldridge was one of three Democrats to be named to the program today.

Eldridge, a wealthy venture capitalist, is running for the Hudson Valley House seat held by Republican incumbent Chris Gibson.

Eldridge has already raised close to $1 million for the effort, which is expected to be one of the most heated Congressional races in the state.

The candidate, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has been tapping into a wealthy donor base and matching his own contributions.

“I’m hearing from voters throughout NY-19 that they are tired of the political gridlock and brinkmanship that John Boehner and Chris Gibson have brought to Washington,” Eldridge said in a statement. “We cannot continue to accept a cycle of dysfunction and self-inflicted wounds. We need new leadership that will focus on common sense solutions to grow our economy, create jobs, and protect critical programs like Medicare and Social Security. I will be an independent voice for our region in Congress, and I’ll stand up to Big Oil and Big Banks and do what’s right for middle class families in Upstate New York.”

A total of 19 Democratic candidates have been added to the program, DCCC says.

Updated: Republicans both at the state and national level sent over statements to knock the new distinction from Eldridge.

For the NRCC, it was another example that Eldridge would be too close with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The last thing Sean Eldridge needs is more evidence that he is in the pocket of his good friend Nancy Pelosi and the Washington D.C. Democratic establishment,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “It should be pretty clear by now that Eldridge is far less interested in representing the 19th District of New York in Congress than he is in being another vote to make Pelosi Speaker of the House.”

And the state GOP also sent over a statement, from spokesman David Laska.

If Sean Eldridge is the best candidate the DCCC can produce, Republicans have little to fear in 2014. Sean Eldridge thinks voters won’t notice that he bought a $2 million house in the district the same month he filed to run for office. They will. Sean Eldridge is a spoiled 20-something who thinks he can spend his family money into Congress. He can’t.”