Mar 3rd - 12:58 pm
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 >
Feb 18th - 3:49 pm
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.
Oct 28th - 11:55 am
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.”
Oct 24th - 9:01 am
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.”
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.
Oct 14th - 12:19 pm
Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge rasied more than $503,000 in the third fundraising quarter, matching all his contributions as he did in the previous reporting period, his campaign announced today.
Eldridge, who is running for the Hudson Valley Congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, received support from the political action committees of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who donated $5,000 and Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, who contributed $1,000.
His campaign stressed those donations were the only contributions from PACs Eldridge received this quarter.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received from every corner of NY-19 from individuals who are tired of the partisan games and gridlock in Washington and are ready for new leadership,” said Eldridge in a statement. “Unlike most campaigns, I will not accept donations from corporate PACs. Voters in NY-19 deserve an independent representative who will stand up to Big Oil and Big Banks and do what’s right for middle class families in our region.”
A complete filing is yet to be posted on the Federal Election Commission’s website.
In the last fundraising period, Eldridge reported raising $436,728, with a cash-on-hand total of $639,255. The total included $215,000 contributed by Eldridge, who is married to the wealthy co-founder of Facebook and New Republic owner Chris Hughes.
At that time, Eldridge tapped into a wealthy donor base in New York City, contacts who had made in part during his effort to create a system of publicly financed elections.
Republicans at the local and national level have wasted little time in blasting Eldridge, who they’ve accused of carpetbagging and attempting to purchase a Congressional seat for himself in the largely rural NY-19.
Eldridge versus Gibson is expected to be one of the costliest House contests in the country.
Oct 11th - 9:00 am
Here’s today’s Morning Memo, with a bonus link at the end from last night’s interview:
Ever since 2010, when Republican Rep. Chris Gibson first ran against Democrat Scott Murphy in what was then NY-20 and ousted Murphy from the seat once held by now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democrats have been trying to cast Gibson as a Tea Party sympathizing extremist.
And Gibson, despite his conservative views on some hot button social issues – most notably, abortion rights – has insisted that he is, in fact, a middle-of-the-road pragmatist, perfectly situated, ideologically speaking, to represent the swing district that is now NY-19.
Gibson has managed to keep his seat, but he remains a top target of the DCCC heading into the 2014 midterm elections, and his opponent, Democratic activist and political newcomer Sean Eldridge, is making the selfsame argument about the GOP congressman – that he leans too far to the right and in doing so is contributing to the dysfunction down in D.C.
I asked Gibson about that during a CapTon interview last night, specifically how the current shutdown crisis and debt ceiling debate has put him in an awkward position, since his conference is being driven by its more conservative members.
Gibson noted that he has been working with the bipartisan group No Labels in hopes of convincing the more dug in members on both sides of the aisle to agree to a negotiated solution in which no one gets everything they want.
But he also noted the similarities between himself and some of his Democratic colleagues who are in the same boat – most notably two who are among the NRCC’s top targets next year: Freshman Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, of the Hudson Valley; and Dan Maffei, of Central New York.
“I think my record speaks for itself,” Gibson told me. “Take a look at that voting and you will see that colleagues in New York, for example – Sean Patrick Maloney and Dan Maffei – take a look at our votes in the last couple weeks, and you’re going to see they’re almost identical.”
“I think they may very well be identical.
“So, there’s certainly posturing going on. I heard that the leader of the Democratic National Campaign Committee was on your show last night and he was talking about the partisan game because of the shutdown. ”
“This is no time to be talking about partisan politics. What we really need to be doing is focusing on service. Look, this is a very serious situation the country’s in and we need to come together to get this done.”
The interview to which Gibson was referring was one I conducted Wednesday night with Long Island Rep. Steve Israel, who heads the DCCC.
Israel, not surprisingly, hewed to the party line, blaming the Tea Partiers in the House GOP for the shutdown and the lack of a debt ceiling deal, and pointing to recent polling that showed the Republicans are being blamed more than the Democrats for the mess in Washington – and could pay a price for it come 2014.
Gibson insisted during our talk that he is not worried about next year’s election, and won’t be polling before he makes any difficult decisions.
But his attempt to cast himself as in the same boat as marginal Democrats in a Democrat-dominated state is certainly an interesting approach – one some of his more conservative colleagues might look askance at, and the Democrats more than likely won’t let go unchallenged.
Sep 27th - 1:33 pm
Democratic House hopeful Sean Eldridge today said he owns a shotgun and backs “common sense” gun control measures such as enhanced background checks.
Eldridge, the founder of Hudson River Ventures, is running for the Hudson Valley seat held by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.
“Like most gun owners, I believe in common sense and we can protect the second amendment while also doing common sense things to save innocent lives,” Eldridge said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter. “We should pass background checks. Congressman Gibson hasn’t signed on to that bill.”
Eldridge said he learned to shoot while workin on a California cattle ranch.
“I learned how to shoot — in 2004 I used to work on a cattle ranch in California,” he said in the interview. “There was actually a school I went to there called Deep Springs College and I learned how to shoot on a .22 there and I’ve owned a shotgun for the last couple of years.”
Eldridge this month officially launched his Congressional campaign for the NY-19, which is expected to be among the most closely watched races in the state.
In the interview, he told Arbetter that he’s opposed to hydrofracking and pledged to not take any corporate PAC money
“Unlike my opponent,” he said.
Eldridge also defended his work for Hudson River Ventures, which has been an early source of Republican attacks.
“I’m proud to have helped create jobs and grow small businesses,” he said. “If you talk to those companies, what they’ll tell you is we’ve been partners in their work. it It has nothing to do with politics. It’s been about growing their business and their products.”
He gave his most direct attack yet on Gibson, knocking him for his votes on the environment and support for the Cooper-LaTourette budget proposal, while questioning his “moderate” credentials.
“What I’m hearing is voters are tired of more of the same,” he said. “They’re tired of the brinksmanship and the games.”
Republicans are sparing little time in attacking Eldridge, who is the husband of Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook. Given Eldridge’s wealth and the NRCC’s early focus on the race, the NY-19 is shaping up to be also one of the most expensive in the country.
“Twenty-seven-year-old Sean Eldridge bought a $2 million house in NY-19 the same month he filed to run for office with the FEC. Without his family money, this carpetbagger wouldn’t have a single substantive accomplishment to his name,” said New York Republican spokesman David Laska. “Sean Eldridge may be used to buying whatever he wants, but he’s about to learn that here in New York, our House seats are not for sale.”
Programming note: Eldridge will be a guest on Capital Tonight this evening at 8 p.m.
Sep 27th - 10:58 am
Newly minted Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge today is making an appeal to supporters by highlighting the threat of a federal government shutdown.
Update: Though the email is technically not a direct fundraising appeal, it does include a link for supporters to contribute.
Eldridge, running for the Hudson Valley seat held by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, wrote in an email to supporters that a shutdown will hurt seniors, veterans and low-income children.
He doesn’t mention Gibson, but instead calls on supporters to demand that “John Boehner and his Republican extremists put an end to their shutdown plan.”
The subject line of the email is “consequences.”
The shutdown threat is looming as Republican lawmakers fight the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, while some GOP officials are pushing the Obama administration to detail the implementation of the law and its insurance requirements by a year.
Eldridge is also making the media rounds today. He is scheduled for a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom and will appear this evening on Capital Tonight at 8 and 11:30.
Here’s the Eldridge email:
The debate that’s happening now in Congress isn’t about protecting the future of Medicare and Social Security. It’s not about creating jobs and growing our economy.
It’s about a Tea Party Republican fixation on grinding our government to a halt – no matter who gets hurt.
Make no mistake, people will get hurt. Social Security and veteran claims could be delayed. The Head Start programs that low-income children rely on could close. And worst of all, hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans could find themselves without their next paycheck.
This has got to stop. Join me in demanding that John Boehner and his Republican extremists put an end to their shutdown plan.
Tell John Boehner: Don’t shut down the government! Sign the petition.
Thank you for adding your voice.
Sep 23rd - 4:45 pm
As Liz noted earlier, the race for the NY-19 is officially on, with Democratic hopeful Sean Eldrige formally announcing his entry into the race last night and the NRCC immediately knocking him for trying to purchase the seat.
And the GOP piling on Eldridge in order to cast him as a rich, out-of-touch liberal, is already well underway.
Gibon’s campaign tweeted a photo of Eldridge’s home — purhcased with husband Chris Hughes — in the Hudson Valley district.
It appears the photo was taken from a New York Times photoshoot of the couples’ home.
Included in the tweet is a link to the campaign’s fundraising site.