Commentary Magazine


Could NY-20 Be the First AIG Casualty?

Timing is everything in politics, as in life. Republican Jim Tedisco has been losing ground to Democrat Scott Murphy in the polls in the special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the NY-20, disappointing Republicans who had  identified this race as a pick-up opportunity and potential psychological booster. However, Tedisco’s comfortable double digit lead has narrowed to only a few points in the last week. Republicans were grumbling about an opportunity about to slip from their grasp.

But Tedisco may be an unintended beneficiary of the AIG debacle. It is no accident, I think, that National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Pete Sessions used a conference call yesterday with some new media outlets to remind them that Tedisco (albeit, after some hesitation) opposed the Democrats’ stimulus plan and played no part in the AIG fiasco. (It won’t help Democrat Murphy when the story comes out that his fellow Democrats stripped out efforts to limit exec bonuses while drafting the stimulus plan.)

Certainly, Tedisco could make some hay of Murphy’s liberal positions on a variety of issues, or of his rather bizarre claim of having plotted political strategy in the White House “Situation Room.” (The latter is frankly an ongoing mystery due to White House stonewalling — leaving us to wonder whether the White House is using the Situation Room to impress visitors, the way Bill Clinton used the Lincoln Bedroom. It is more likely that Murphy has a Hillary-in-Bosnia fabulism problem.) Now an even better issue has landed on Tedisco’s doorstep:

Tedisco had already attacked Murphy for approving huge executive bonuses as a director for an Internet company that lost millions. That sort of thing is not normally such a big issue. Unfortunately for Murphy, it bears some resemblance (minus the taxpayer bailout) to the AIG situation.

With the feeding frenzy raging over AIG (and bailouts more generally), it remains to be seen whether any of this translates into a discrete congressional race. But we’ll find out soon enough. The special election is on March 31.

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