McLaughlin: No Decision Yet On Congressional Run

Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin in a radio interview on Thursday said he was seriously considering a run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson, but was yet to make a decision on moving forward with a campaign.

“I have not made a final decision yet, but I’m very seriously thinking about running,” McLaughlin told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show.

He added: “I’m meeting with people and we’re trying to lay the groundwork.”

The race to succeed Gibson, a Republican first elected in 2010 to what was then the 20th congressional district, could be a crowded one.

Former Assemblyman John Faso, the Republican nominee for comptroller in 2002 and governor in 2006, is considering running, as is Assemblyman Peter Lopez. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, considered a rising Republican star, is also mentioned as a potential candidate.

On the Democratic side, venture capitalist Sean Eldridge may try again for the seat after falling short of unseating Gibson last year. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and former state Sen. Terry Gipson are also believed to be in the mix.

Gibson is due to retire from the House in 2016 as he considers running for statewide office.

The Hudson Valley district is considered a battleground House seat, but could be a Democratic pick up in 2016, considering it is a presidential election year.

McLaughlin considered running for governor in 2014, but ultimately nixed that idea after determining he could not fundraise competitively against the deep-pocketed incumbent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Long Surprised By Gibson Retirement

Form today’s Morning Memo, Nick Reisman reports:

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said he was surprised to hear of Rep. Chris Gibson’s plans to retire at the conclusion of his third term, though both he and Republican Chairman Ed Cox expect to keep NY-19 in GOP hands.

“He caught me by surprise as he’s caught everyone by surprise,” Long said. “I didn’t know he was going to do that. I think he’s cut shorter than what’s said.”

Gibson, a former Army colonel who first unseated Democrat Scott Murphy in the pre-redistricting NY-20, had initially pledged to stick to a self-imposed term limit of no more than eight years in the House.

He is now potentially eyeing a statewide run – perhaps for governor (which could put him at odds with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who has signaled his desire to run again) or the US Senate (a heavy lift with two popular Democratic incumbents in office).

But Long wouldn’t speculate on what job Gibson may be interested in.

“I guess he has his eyes on something else,” Long said. “I haven’t had a conversation with him. I think he’s done a good job. I’m just kind of surprised he did it so early.”

Cox, too, would not take a guess on what Gibson, who handily defeated Democrat Sean Eldridge last year in a district that backed President Obama in 2012, may seek.

“That’s four years off,” Cox said. “I’m not going to tell him. He wants to help the party, help build the party across the state.”

Cox added there are a “plethora” of GOP candidates in the Hudson Valley House seat who would be available to run for Gibson’s seat.

Among those mentioned so far: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, and Sen. Jim Seward.

On the Democratic side, there’s Sean Eldridge, of course, who just dropped some $4.25 million of his own cash in a failed attempt to unseat Gibson, but did manage to raise his name recognition considerably in the process.

Also mentioned: Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and former Sen. Terry Gipson.

Although he didn’t give Long a heads-up about his plan to step aside in 2016, Gibson did apparently speak to Cox before going public.

The congressman managed to surprise his colleagues yet again yesterday, joining a group of 25 Republican House members to vote against re-electing John Boehner to another two-year term as speaker.

That was the biggest defection from a speaker in about a century, but Boehner won anyway with 216 votes.

Gibson cast the lone vote for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California. He said he spoke with Boehner and explained that his “no” vote was a sign of his disappointment with the speaker’s lackluster messaging.

“He needs to be on ‘Hannity’ – he needs to be out there more,” Gibson said of Boehner, who he described as “a good and honorable man.”

Gibson Announces Plans To Retire At End Of Term

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson officially announced this morning that he plans to not seek re-election to the 19th congressional district.

In an email outlining his agenda in 2015, Gibson reiterates that he had pledged to not make serving in the House of Representatives a long-term job.

“As I stated shortly after retiring from the US Army and first pursuing a seat in Congress in 2010, I planned to self-impose term limits. Accordingly, after much reflection and consultation with my family, this will be my third and final time taking the oath of office as a Representative in the US House. I thank the voters of Upstate NY for this privilege to serve and pledge to continue to work tirelessly on their behalf in this final term,” Gibson said in the statement.

His tenure in Congress also won praise from NRCC Chairman Greg Walden.

“Chris is many things: a father, husband, teacher, soldier, and friend,” Walden said in a statement. “I know he will finish his last two years in Congress working every bit as hard for the people of New York as he has done since the day he arrived in DC four years ago.”

Gibson first won election in 2010, unseating Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy, who had won the seat in a 2009 special election after Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate.

Gibson subsequently won re-election in the redrawn NY-19, which removed the Republican heavy North Country and added the more moderate Hudson Valley.

Nevertheless, Gibson won re-election in 2012 against Democrat Julian Schreibman and survived a well-funded challenged from Sean Eldridge last year.

Gibson is considered a potential statewide candidate and polls well among Democratic-leaning voters in the district. The governor’s office is up for re-election in 2018, and 2014 Republican nominee Rob Astorino hasn’t ruled out running again.

The former Army colonel forged strong ties this election cycle with state Senate candidates, including George Amedore and Sue Serino, both of whom defeated freshmen Democratic incumbents to help the GOP take the the chamber.

Gibson, meanwhile, pledged to help keep his seat in the GOP column.

“Moving forward, I will be committed to building a stronger team so that the GOP can compete and win statewide in 2018, including the possibility of being a candidate in that cycle,” Gibson said.

Several Republicans would likely be contenders for the seat, including Assemblyman Pete Lopez, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, state Sen. Jim Seward, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino.

Assembly Republicans, once a farm team for congressional representatives, have struggled to make a successful run for House seats in recent years, with candidates like Jim Tedisco, Jane Corwin and Claudia Tenney losing their bids.

Who Replaces Gibson? (Updated)

A political earthquake is set to hit the Hudson Valley with the pending retirement of GOP Rep. Chris Gibson.

Gibson, who first won the pre-redistricting NY-20 after defeating Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy in 2010, is set to retire once he concludes his third term in 2016, according to Roll Call and confirmed last night to TWC News by multiple GOP sources.

Gibson, who has previously set term limits for himself at years, has not ruled out a potential run for statewide office.

Running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 against incumbent Democrat Chuck Schumer would be close to political suicide; a more realistic proposition has been the retired Army colonel running for either governor or against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2018.

Announcing his intentions to call it quits now allows Republicans to raise money and recruit a candidate for a district that backed President Obama in 2012 (Gibson, running in the redrawn NY-19, defeated Democrat Julian Schreibman that year).

Nevertheless, expect some intense jockeying in the coming days to replace Gibson.


If there are any potential heirs to Gibson’s seat that can match his stamina, its Melrose Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, a former airline pilot and vocal critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. McLaughlin has fans with the conservative base and even briefly flirted with running for governor himself as well as the state Senate. He declined to run, citing the fundraising mountain he’d have to climb to take on Cuomo.

Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino has also been mentioned at times for higher office, a woman who has often been put on a short list of rising Republican stars on the local level.

Speaking of rising stars, no list of ambitious Republicans in the Hudson Valley can’t miss Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a former assemblyman who is part of the GOP bench on the local level and also frequently named as a possible candidate for higher office one day.

Updated: A few more Republican names to add to the list include Assemblyman Pete Lopez, known for his constituent services, and state Sen. Jim Seward, the chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, who represents a safe Republican seat in the chamber.


On the Democratic side, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein was floated as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor for Cuomo. He’s polished and well known and could run a competitive race.

Sean Eldridge, the young venture capitalist who poured much of his own money into the race and tapped into a wealthy donor base, may also run for the seat again. Eldridge’s run was derided for its presumption, but a second-time candidate is often one who knows a lot more about the mechanics of running for public office.

Former state Sen. Terry Gipson lost his seat last year to Republican Sue Serino. Affable and unassuming, Gipson could have some luck in a presidential election year when more Democrats turn out to vote.

Gibson Breaks With GOP Colleagues, Sides With Cuomo on Fracking

From the Morning Memo:

Many Republicans have been criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to move ahead with a fracking ban in New York, but Rep. Chris Gibson is not one of them.

“I do support the studies that have come forward here,” said Gibson, whose successful campaign for re-election in NY-19 included a battle over fracking (and contributions from those who support it) with his Democratic challenger, Sean Eldridge.

“…I’ve looked at the science here, and I have intuition, and I’m not surprised by the results of this study,” the congressman said.

“I think we should have reason for caution when it comes to fracking. I guess that would mean that I disagree with comments that this is political, because I believe the science, this is what it points to.”

The congressman, a 24-year veteran of the US Army, compared fracking and its potential public health risk to the use by the military of Agent Orange during Vietnam, and also the once-legal dumping of PCBs into the Hudson River.

“No one thought we were poisoning our own service men and women and the Vietnamese people…turns out we were,” Gibson said. “…I always wanted us to proceed with caution here. We have science now that points into not doing this. I think we need to listen.”

That said, the congressman noted, there were landowners who were expecting to profit from a potential fracking boom, and the state needs to look into compensating them.

Gibson’s GOP colleague, Rep. Tom Reed, who represents the Southern Tier, has made a similar call. Reed also has suggested the federal government could overturn New York’s fracking ban, which is further than Gibson is willing to go.

“I disagree with my friend, Tom Reed, because, as you know, I’m a believer of home rule,” Gibson said. “I believe in empowering states and localities, families and individuals.”

“…I think that we haven’t even exhausted here in the state working with the governor’s team. I would hope he would be open (to compensating local landowners.”

Gibson stressed that the state needs to come up with a viable economic development plan for the Southern Tier, which the governor has pledged to do.

Gibson Won’t Rule A Run For Statewide Office

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson wouldn’t rule out on Wednesday running for statewide office one day.

Gibson, a Hudson Valley lawmaker who cruised to re-election against Democrat Sean Eldridge, was pressed by Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 on a potential run for governor.

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but my focus is on my service right here,” Gibson said. “That’s not something I’m planning on, but you never know.”

Gibson’s victory in a Democratic-leaning district that backed President Obama’s re-election in 2012 is being seen as a potential blueprint for Republicans running in liberal-to-moderate areas.

Even before Gibson securing a third term, Republicans had mentioned the retired U.S. Army colonel as a potential statewide candidate.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the 2014 Republican nominee, has also not ruled out running again for governor in 2018.

Another potential opening for Gibson is the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Chuck Schumer is due to run for re-election in 2016.

Gibson touted his own win over Eldridge — who was able to tap into a pool of rich donors as well as his own wealth — as being somewhat unexpected given the makeup of the district and the money his opponent brought to the race (Gibson himself had some help from independent expenditure groups, as well as the National Republican Campaign Committee).

Eldridge Plays Up NYT Endorsement, Pay Equity In New Ad

Though he continues to trail his GOP opponent by double digits, Democrat Sean Eldridge is still forging ahead with his campaign in NY-19, releasing yet another TV ad that highlights his recent endorsement by the New York Times.

The Gray Lady praised Republican Rep. Chris Gibson for being will to buck his own party – “at least occasionally.” But criticized his lack of support for “the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage or comprehensive immigration reform, all of which are important to the lives of his constituents.”

As for Eldridge, the paper liked his “fresh face and strong ideas,” praising his “energetic” advocacy for same-sex marriage and campaign finance reform, and highlighting is pledges to be a champion for reproductive rights and equal pay for women.

Pay equity has been a big issue in this campaign cycle, but more so at the state level, where it is one plank of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.

Eldridge has now spent more than $4 million of his own cash on his campaign. According to the second TWC News/Siena poll of this race, all that money hasn’t managed to budge voters much, or convince them to support the Democratic newcomer.

Here’s the script for Eldridge’s latest ad, which hits the airwaves tomorrow:

“Every day I hear from families who are struggling – who feel like the deck is stacked against them and no one in Washington is on their side. It’s time that changed.”

“I’m Sean Eldridge. I run a company that invests in local small businesses to help them succeed and create jobs. In Congress, I’ll fight to make college more affordable and make sure women get equal pay for equal work.”

“Washington is broken. We need an advocate who will shake things up and put families first.”

“I’m Sean Eldridge, and I approve this message.”

TWC News/Siena College Poll: Gibson Lead Unchanged Over Eldridge

With a week to go before Election Day, Republican Congressman Chris Gibson is on track to win a third term over his Demcoratic challenger, Sean Eldridge, according to an exclusive Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll of the 19th congressional district.

The poll found Gibson leading Eldridge 58 percent to 35 percent — a 23 percentage point gap. That’s virtually unchanged from a poll released in September that showed Gibson with a 24-point lead. Meanwhile, Gibson enjoys a high favorable rating — 60 percent. Eldridge, a first-time candidate, has become better known, but 35 percent of voters hold an unfavorable view of him compared to 33 percent who view him favorably.

Gibson remains well liked among Republicans, with 78 percent supporting him. Democrats are split, but not by much: 41 percent hold a favorable view compared to 45 percent who do not.

Overall, 28 percent of Democrats poll said they would vote for Gibson, compared to 67 percent who side Eldridge.

Perhaps most problematic for Eldridge is a solid majority of voters have made up their minds in the race: 69 percent say they have made their decision, with no chance they’ll change their mind. Of those voters, 71 percent say they’re voting for Gibson.

“Barring some dramatic, unforeseen event in the closing week of this campaign, the voters are clearly locked in,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said.

Gibson’s lead comes despite a flurry of advertising on television and the radio from Eldridge’s campaign The ads have blasted Gibson for supporting hydrofracking and for campaign contributions his opponent says influenced his votes in Washington. But the ads have apparently had little impact.

Gibson, too, has spent heavily on ads knocking Eldridge as a carpetbagger, while the National Republican Campaign Committee has provided some attack ads as well.

Nevertheless, a plurality of voters — 40 percent — believe Eldridge is running the more negative campaign.

In the race for governor, incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo trails Republican Rob Astorino in the 19th congressional district 38 percent to 39 percent. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receives 14 percent of the vote.

It’s a reverse for Cuomo, who last month led Astorino 39 percent to 36 percent. Nevertheless, Siena pollster Steve Greenberg says that’s a reflection of the closely divided congressional district.

The poll of 727 likely voters in the NY-19 was conducted from Oct. 22 through Oct. 24. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

CD191014 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Gibson Ad: You Don’t Know Eldridge

The latest ad from Republican Rep. Chris Gibson is short, but to the point: Democrat Sean Eldridge is is misleading voters.

The 15-second TV commercial — airing in the costlier New York City broadcast market — also includes a cameo from The New York Post’s Fred Dicker.

The spot contends that Eldridge is “running false ads on fracking” and reignites the carpetbagging charge that he moved to the 19th congressional district only to run for the Hudson Valley House seat.

Gibson even finds time in the spot to reference The New York Times profile that featured the expansive home Eldridge and his husband Chris Hughes share.

Here’s the script:

Narrator: Think you know Sean Eldridge?

Fred Dicker: Nobody really knows anything…

Narrator: Except he moved here to buy a district and is running false ads on fracking, leading our neighbors to ask “how can he expect to represent people he doesn’t know?”

Chris Gibson: I’m Chris Gibson and I approve this message.

A Siena College/Time Warner Cable News poll will be unveiled this evening taking a look at the race for the 19th congressional district.

Gibson Releases 5th Ad of NY-19 Race, ‘Clear Choice’ (Updated)

Rep. Chris Gibson released his fifth TV ad of his re-election battle in NY-19 with his opponent, Sean Eldridge – a spot that seeks to highlight the main differences between the incumbent Republican congressman and the Democratic newcomer.

The ad, “Clear Choice,” is a sort of amalgamation of arguments Gibson has made throughout the campaign. It touts the congressman’s record in public office and paints him as a dedicated local family man, while also swiping at Eldridge, depicting him as an inexperienced carpbetbagger who has run a negative campaign fueled largely by the wealth of his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes.

“Voters want a representative in Washington who they can trust. Chris’s lifetime of honorable service to his country and constituents in New York is a record we can be proud of,” said Gubson’s campaign manager Kevin Crumb. “Unfortunately, Sean Eldridge has shown that he’ll do anything to be elected to Congress – including district-shopping and spending millions of his personal fortune to misrepresent Chris’s record.”

Gibson has used this line of attack many times – including in the NY-19 debate that TWC News hosted yesterday and aired last night. (In case you missed it, you can find it here).

UPDATE: Eldridge’s campaign released a point-by-point rebuttal of Gibson’s ad, which spokeswoman Sophie Friedman, said proves the congressman is willing to “lie to his friends and neighbors” and continues his practice of “false, personal attacks against Sean.”

Team Eldridge notes that Gibson is a member of the “least productive Congress in history,” and therefore cannot honestly claim to be working hard on behalf of his constituents. It also points out that the congressman supports fracking and has received a 33 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

What’s more, according to Eldridge’s campaign, Gibson has “refused to lead by example and speak out against the more than $5 million that has been spent by outside groups on his three bids for Congress.”

Here’s the script for Gibson’s new ad:

Female Narrator: “The story of Chris Gibson’s life of service starts here.

Male Narrator: But Sean Eldridge just moved here, filing to run for office before registering to vote.

Female Narrator: While Chris worked hard for us…

Male Narrator: Eldridge was deceiving you about Chris’ position on fracking, distorting Chris’s record of protecting our environment.

Female Narrator: Chris proposed to limit spending in this election.

Male Narrator: But billionaire Eldridge said no, supporting tax dollars paying for politicians’ negative ads.

Female Narrator: This election comes down to trust. The clear choice? Chris Gibson.

Chris Gibson: I’m Chris Gibson and I approve this message.