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The NY-20 race; Updated: Too close to call

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 31, 2009 05:23 PM

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Polls will close in a bit in New York’s 20th congressional district special election to replace Democrat Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand.

If you voted, let us know.

The race is a political inkblot — with some seeing it as a litmus test on Obama, others seeing it as a litmus test on Rush Limbaugh or AIG.

Newsday has this to say:

When she served in the House, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was a quasi-Republican who voted with the NRA and the first federal bailout bill. Her former 20th district has a 75,000-voter GOP edge.

So the hype over today’s vote to replace her may look and sound and smell like some sort of wider test — who knows on what — but really it seems to boil down to which of two candidates about half a degree apart on the political spectrum, whose party-line votes as a freshman would probably be in tandem with the party leadership, can get his vote out.

In sum, this is a very local upstate race.

Greg Giroux at CQ also says not to read too much into it:

Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 20th District has received substantial national attention, though it’s probably a mistake to read too much into the result of the balloting between Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy.

The most obvious reason is that the Obama administration is barely two months old and that 20 months remain until the 2010 midterm elections, which will be a much broader referendum on the president’s policies and the Democratic-run Congress.

Moreover, a history of House special elections dating to 1968, which I compiled and posted on Greg’s List, should also give pause to ascribing too much importance to the outcome of a low-turnout election in a district that voted narrowly for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Obvious bottom line: The winner will overstate the significance of victory. The loser will downplay the ramifications of defeat.

And conservatives will be left wondering why the best their candidates can do is punt on fundamental questions about whether they are for generational thievery or whether they are against it.

Sigh.

***

11:51pm Eastern. It’s a squeaker. Too close to call.

Here’s the NRCC statement issued late tonight…

Statement from NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions on New York Special Election

Washington- National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions released the following statement tonight on the status of the special election in New York’s 20th Congressional District:

“As the latest vote totals reflect, there still remain thousands of absentee and military ballots that have to be counted. Rest assured that Republicans will ensure that the integrity of the election is protected and every vote is counted. As it stands now, there is a Republican advantage in the number of absentee and military ballots that have been returned.

“With that being said, Jim Tedisco has closed the gap in a district that has come to exemplify Democratic dominance in the Northeast in recent elections. That is a testament to the strength of Jim’s campaign and the effectiveness of the Republican message of fiscal responsibility and accountability that Americans are demanding in the wake of the AIG scandal.

“Less than 150 days ago, President Obama carried New York’s 20th District, and former Congresswoman Gillibrand was handily reelected in this district by a margin of 62-38 percent, despite the fact that her Republican opponent spent $6 million trying to defeat her. For the first time in a long time, a Republican candidate went toe-to-toe with a Democrat in a hard-fought battle over independent voters. This was hardly a common phenomenon in 2008, particularly in the Northeast.”

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