April 24th, 2009
05:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Democrat wins NY House race

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/01/art.getty.vote.jpg caption="The race was too close to call following the March 31 election, but as absentee and overseas ballots poured in the past few weeks, Murphy's lead grew."] (CNN) - It took nearly a month, but Democrat Scott Murphy has won the battle for New York's 20th congressional district.

Republican James Tedisco conceded Friday and called Murphy by phone to offer congratulations.

"I look forward to rolling up my sleeves in Washington to bring jobs, opportunity and prosperity back to upstate New York," Murphy said in a statement.

The race was too close to call following the March 31 election. But as absentee and overseas ballots poured in the past few weeks, Murphy's lead grew.

The Missouri-born Murphy, 39, is a millionaire venture capitalist. Tedisco, 58, is a longtime New York state lawmaker and ranking Republican in the State Assembly.

The candidates were running to replace Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat by New York Gov. David Paterson. Clinton is now secretary of state in President Barack Obama's cabinet.

What normally would have been a local contest with little national interest partially evolved into an early referendum on Obama, his polices to jumpstart the economy, and the reputations of the Democratic and Republican parties, as both national parties and their congressional committees poured money and resources into the race.

The 20th is a moderate-to-conservative district that Republicans dominated for decades. Gillibrand first won election to the seat in 2006 and was re-elected last November.

The GOP enjoyed a wide edge in voter registration in the district, which includes portions of the Catskills, parts of the upper Hudson River valley, the Saratoga Springs area, Lake George and portions of the Adirondacks. George W. Bush won the district in the 2004 election but Obama narrowly took the district last November.

The Republicans have fared poorly in New York in the past two elections, losing six House seats in 2006 and 2008, leaving them with just three in the 29-seat delegation. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, on the job for just three months, made recapturing the seat a top priority and appeared twice with Tedisco.

But with the election so close, both parties hailed the results.

"Just a few short months ago, President Obama carried this district and Kirsten Gillibrand won by an overwhelming margin against a well-funded challenger," said Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "For the first time in a long time, a Republican congressional candidate went toe-to-toe with a Democrat in a hard-fought battle over independent voters."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic win, in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats, is a vote of confidence for the president and his policies.

"Scott's victory is a clear indication that Democrats, Independents and Republicans across the country want to continue moving America in a new direction and reject the 'just say no' policies of Washington, D.C., Republicans," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Friday afternoon.

But while the Democrats praised their victory in the special election, analysts cautioned that the race would likely have little bearing on future races.

"There should be a healthy pause before over-analyzing the results from New York 20," said Nathan Gonzalez, political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. "Historically, these early special elections aren't good predictors. I'm not convinced that this special election will be a good predictor of what happens in 2010."

–CNN's Lauren Kornreich contributed to this story

Filed under: Jim Tedisco • Scott Murphy
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. no need to know

    It is truly evident that Americans have learned that Republicans are not in their best interests. If you listen to the Minnesota congress women she sounds like an idiot. Hooray for New Yorkers.

    April 24, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Chris in Va.

    Will the Libertarian Party become the main opposition of the Democratic Party now that the Repugs are through?

    April 24, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Bev - NYC

    Guess Michael Steele wasted the GOP's money,yet another nail in the coffin, a Decocrat wins in the most Republican part of NY.

    April 24, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    YAY.... one less republican in the house....

    April 24, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. JonDie

    One less Republican in Congress can only be taken as a good thing.

    April 24, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  6. No Incumbents 2010

    I thought Kirsten Gillibrand is a Democrat. She held the seat prior to becoming Senator. Apparently this district had voted Democrat before. My point is why are Democrats so sure the Republican party is finished, when you won a seat vacated by a Democrat by such a small margin?
    I believe you are banking on the last 8 years to see you through to infinity, and you fail to see that you barely squeaked one through less than 100 days after President Obama was elected.
    My question – Is the honeymoon almost over?

    April 24, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. barking republican ankle biters

    Good.We will end the republican Nazi domination.

    April 24, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Shayne in NH


    Uhh....dude...it's been like 71 days since the stimulus bill passed. Are you expecting overnight results? You MUST be repubican. We'll address this issue in an intelligent matter one year from now and then you can either rightly or wrongly criticize the president. For now you just look......dumb.

    April 24, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Tim

    I am very pleased this didn't turn out to be MN!

    April 24, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    One more try at having a comment posted..................

    Congratulations to NY-20! Good pick!

    The GOPers will whine, moan, rant about "rigged elections"....... what do you call Bush "winning" in 2000 when Gore won the popular vote?

    GOPers still .... do ... not........ get..... it.......... America rejects the politics of

    hate........ lies............ fear...........and division.

    April 24, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. Larry

    It's all about low income people wanting entitlements-the Democrats keep "buying" the votes.

    April 24, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. ben

    I hope the whole country votes the republicans out and vote democrats in!

    April 24, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  13. I laugh at Limbaugh daily

    A drip at a time works better than waterboarding,just ask a republican.

    April 24, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. Objective Thinking

    Mari: What hate, fear, lies and division is Tedisco guilty of?

    April 24, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. Michael in Ventura,CA

    Great! Keep it going! NO to the party of No!

    April 24, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  16. I Am The Not-So-Powerful Wizard of Rush

    Murphy was down twenty points in the polls with a month to go and pulled it out, despite this being a historically g.o.p. seat (Gillibrand won in 2006 after the seat was republican since the 70s).

    Kuddos to Scott; Kuddos to America.

    April 24, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  17. Sarty

    One less obstructionist means one step forward.

    April 24, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. A little sad

    "Republican James Tedisco conceded Friday and called Murphy by phone to offer congratulations."

    Thank you Mr Tedisco, for your graciousness.

    April 24, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  19. Homer

    I think the republicans are going to have to get used to the same results everywhere.

    April 24, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  20. Dave

    Don't tell me how much I need to be exited. I am exited and I have nothing to worry about the future!!

    April 24, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  21. Tom

    Good job, New York. Now it's time (past time, really) for Coleman to give it up in Minnesota and let the will of the people take hold. Franken is going to Washington, baby!

    April 24, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. fella from chicago

    A Dem vacated seat filled by a Dem. Duh.. where's the victory? Should never have been this close.

    April 24, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  23. ds, USA

    Tedisco showed Coleman what it's like to put county before politics.

    April 24, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  24. Craig - Hastings, MN

    Norm ain't gonna quit. He's a weasel, Period. Just ask my wife. She worked for this BOZO when he was mayor of St. Paul. BTW- Did you know old Normie is a New Yorker? The people(election), the state (recount), and the judiciary (courts) have ALL told him "You LOST NORMIE"" but he refuses to accept it. He is an embarrassment to himself and to the people of MN.

    April 24, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  25. obama/mama

    Yes Mari, that's why so many people reject us libs. We need to STOP hating

    April 24, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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