Gillibrand vs Treadwell, Round 1

Tonight is the first debate between freshman Democratic Representative Kirsten Gillibrand and her well-funded Republican challenger, Sandy Treadwell.

Treadwell says he will elaborate on his plan for a moratorium on earmarks.

Both candidates in this heavily Republican district are likely preparing for questions about how they line up with respect to their party's presidential nominee.

"John McCai[img_assist|nid=105|title=Sandy Treadwell|desc=sandytreadwell.com|link=none|align=left|width=420|height=245]n has some good ideas. Barack Obama has some good ideas,” said Treadwell spokesman Peter Constantakes. “But we’re focusing on who we’re challenging. We want to contrast more with the person we’re running against rather than with Barack Obama or John McCain.”

A spokeswoman for Gillibrand’s campaign, Rachel McEneny, said they’re prepared to draw distinctions with Barack Obama, noting that they got the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and were adamantly opposed to Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to undocumented residents, which Obama supports.

But McEneny was also quick to point out that Gillibrand is enthusiastically supporting Obama for president, and specifically that she backs his economic and energy policies.

Tonight's debate is at 6 p.m. and being organized by a local Chamber of Commerce along with the Poughkeepsie Journal News and The Glens Falls Post Star (which will be streaming live tonight).

It'll be a little crowded on stage. Also debating tonight are the Democratic and Republican candidates from two other congressional races: freshman Democrat John Hall and his Republican challenger Kieran Lalor, and Democrat Maurice Hinchey and his Republican challenger, George Phillips.

Having all those Democrats on stage together will be a boon to Gillibrand, her spokeswoman said, since the audience can see that she voted differently from the Democrats sitting right next to her. And in Gillibrand’s district, which leans Republican, that’s a good thing.

“Even though they’re all Democrats and take the same flight home, they’re each very, very different,” said McEneny.