Why Isn’t the DCCC Fighting for the Gillibrand Seat?

ALBANY—As the NRCC started pushing stories about Scott Murphy’s tax improprieties, the DCCC is nowhere to be found.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele is heading to New York to coordinate fund-raising for their candidate, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. The DCCC, by contrast, has not yet committed any cash.

According to sources familiar with the Democratic nomination process, the DCCC’s absence has everything to do with the selection of Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist from Glens Falls with virtually no name recognition in the sprawling district. With quick cash such a huge priority, Murphy brought more than $500,000 of his own money to the table and has proven his fund-raising prowess by raising another $205,000 within a week of being named the candidate.

Many Democrats in the district whisper that with Tedisco’s high recognition and enrollment advantage, Murphy’s odds are long at best – DCCC or no. So why not fight to keep a seat that was ripped from Republicans in 2006 and that now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won in the most expensive congressional race of 2008? There are two reasons.

First, there is the previously reported displeasure of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with David Paterson’s selection of Gillibrand.

“The thought is, you created this mess, you clean it up. Or the blood is on your hands,” one Democratic observer in the district said of the DCCC’s thinking toward Paterson.

A DCCC spokeswoman told the Times Union that Murphy “has the right profile and experience to win a district that the Republicans think should be theirs.”

Those who know Tedisco have another theory, and it’s all about…Tedisco.

If he were to win the seat, his victory would be the first Democratic loss since the Democratic tsunami that elected Barack Obama. It could be spun as the start of a movement.

“He would be a fixture on Fox News,” said one elected Democrat.

If the DCCC isn’t heavily involved, this thinking goes, then a Tedisco victory will be less of story.

UPDATE: The DCCC still hasn’t committed cash, but their opposition research department is weighing in. DCCC issued this press release attacking Tedisco for billing $21,000 to state taxpayers for a 21-minute drive from his home to the Capitol. Here’s the release:

Now that Albany politician Jim Tedisco has formally launched his congressional campaign in New York’s 20th Congressional District, Tedisco owes voters an explanation as to why he billed them $21,343 in oil and gas receipts for his taxpayer funded vehicle, despite just a 20-minute car ride away to the state capitol from his Schenectady home in the 21st Congressional District.  


“Albany politician Jim Tedisco talks tough about cutting government spending, but that hasn’t stopped him from billing taxpayers over $21,000 in oil and gas receipts for his taxpayer funded vehicle, despite his 20-minute car ride to the state capital,” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “During these tough economic times, the very last thing Upstate New York’s middle class families need is a sneaky Albany politician like Jim Tedisco sticking them with a $21,000 bill so he can keep living high on the hog. Tedisco needs to stop this hypocrisy and immediately come clean by reimbursing taxpayers $21,000.”




  • Tedisco Received Taxpayer Funded Vehicle

In 2001, Tedisco began using a taxpayer funded vehicle and charged gas and oil receipts to the state. [New York State Assembly, Expenditure Reports, 1996-2008]


  • Tedisco Spent Over $21,000 on Gas for State Vehicle

From September 2000 through March 2008, Tedisco charged $21,343.76 in state vehicle oil and gas receipts. [New York State Assembly, Expenditure Reports, 1996-2008]

    • Hundreds of Dollars Charged on Same Day in 2001

The oil and gas receipts in 2001 are notable for two occasions where substantial amounts were charged on the same day.

    • On June 29, 2001, a total of $413.80 was charged for oil and gas in three separate charges.
    • On December 11, 2001, a total of $628.46 was charged in five separate charges. [New York State Assembly, Expenditure Reports, 1996-2008]


  • Yet, Tedisco’s ride from his home in Schenectady to Albany is 17 miles [Google Maps]
  • Tedisco’s Aide is One of Three in All of the New York Assembly to Receive a State Car

Only three Assembly staff members received state cars in 2007. Among those was Howard Becker, “a longtime aide” to Tedisco. [Times-Union, 3/19/07]


Why Isn’t the DCCC Fighting for the Gillibrand Seat?