1199 Outspent the DCCC (But Not the NRCC) in the Scott Murphy Race

ALBANY—The health care workers union SEIU 1199 spent over $500,000 to help Scott Murphy defeat Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in their race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in Congress.

Federal campaign filings show the union invested more in independent expenditures than even the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee toward Murphy's victory, between their political action and political education committees.

A memo from 1199's New York political director, Kevin Finnegan, to the SEIU national political director John Youngdahl, that was provided to me, details the union's spending in the race, including large amounts on direct mail and for radio and television ads. The total dollar amount was $548,812.

"We're confident Murphy will continue to be a progressive voice for working New Yorkers and we look forward to working with him in Congress," Finnegan wrote. (Full text below).

In response to the memo, George Gresham, president of 1199's east division noted that the union worked to elect Obama, and "supporting Scott Murphy's candidacy with an aggressive independent expenditure campaign is a natural extension of our efforts to support the president in passing meaningful, comprehensive healthcare reform."

He said Murphy will be a "strong ally."

Each party's congressional committees were also heavily involved in the campaign: the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $817,681 in the race ($14,500 on Tedisco's behalf, and $803,181.10 against Murphy) while the DCCC spent $373,051 in the race (both $296,425 against Tedisco, as well as $76,626 of party-coordinated expenditures.)

Here's the breakdown on who spent for and against Murphy, and here's the breakdown of who spent for and against Tedisco.

There was nothing matching 1199's spending on the Republican side; Tedisco's campaign got help from the Pro-Palin Our Country Deserves Better PAC to the tune of $156,403 both on his behalf and against Murphy. These included radio ads and mailers. Tedisco also received help from the Republican National Committee.

That's on top of what each campaign spent. Tedsico's committee spent about $1.4 million during the race, while Murphy's campaign committee spent $1.9 million. This leaves the campaign in about $350,000 of debt, of which a personal loan from Murphy is the largest chunk (there's about $100,000 in cash on hand).

Tedisco's committee ends the cycle with about $127,000 in cash on hand, enough to cover the remaining $124,000 of a loan Tedisco gave himself.

Below is the 1199 memo.



To: Jon Youngdahl

From: Kevin Finnegan

Date: April 29, 2009

Re: Recap of NY-20 Murphy Election Work



Below is a brief summary of our electoral efforts in NY-20.  After this lengthy recount, members and activists in the capital region are both thrilled and relieved that Murphy was ultimately victorious.


1199 SEIU member activists and staff did an incredible job going door-to-door in small cities throughout Dutchess, Columbia and Saratoga counties working nights and weekends for over three weeks! 


Our extensive mobilization efforts and the conversations activists had with voters across the district about issues critical to working families helped put Murphy over the top in a district where Republicans had a huge enrollment advantage. 


Murphy's victory reflects swing voters' support for President Obama's domestic agenda and a recognition that the President's priorities of national healthcare reform and allowing workers the right to unionize through passage of the Employee Free Choice Act are essential to turning our economy around.


We're confident Murphy will continue to be a progressive voice for working New Yorkers and we look forward to working with him in Congress.


  • Final Election Result: WIN (399 votes)
  • Members in District: 5,558 (including 1199 SEIU and 200United)
  • Member Outreach: Members received 2 pieces of mail along with persuasion and GOTV live calls


Member Participation:


  • Doors Knocked: more than 10,000
  • Phone Calls: more than 5,000
  • Election Day Volunteers: 100


Independent Expenditure:


1199 Outspent the DCCC (But Not the NRCC) in the Scott Murphy Race