N.Y. Seat Gives GOP Fresh Hope

January 26, 2009

The upcoming special election to replace Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who will be sworn in Tuesday as New York’s junior Senator, presents opportunities for Republicans and Democrats — and an infinite amount of political peril.

By all rights, Republicans should be favored to recapture the rural upstate seat that Gillibrand won in a bloody upset in 2006. A win would provide the GOP with a desperately needed sense of momentum following two disastrous election cycles.

But after three special House races last year turned conventional wisdom on its head, leaders of both parties are wary about claiming any kind of early advantage.

“We view this as a potential opportunity,” said Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was equally circumspect.

“While a special election will be difficult in this traditionally Republican-leaning district, the New York Democrats and the DCCC are working aggressively to keep this district in the Democratic column,” he said.

Part of what’s keeping both national parties on edge is that they don’t know what kind of nominees they’ll wind up with — and they have precious little say in the process. The parties probably won’t decide how much money that they are going to invest in the race until they know who the candidates are…

Republicans certainly have a top-tier array of highly conventional candidates vying for the nomination. The list of leading contenders includes state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco; former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso, who was the GOP nominee for state comptroller in 2002 and for governor in 2006; state Sen. Betty Little; and Richard Wager, a former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I)…

“I don’t think the NRCC should be overconfident, but if it’s Tedisco, he knows how to get press, he’s not going to stop, he knows how to work, and he has good people around him,” the Republican said. “He’s used to doing races without a lot of resources.”…

Click here to read the full story.