I’ve mentioned my GOP politico buddy in here in the past. You know, the one who thinks I hate all Republicans, which simply is not true. At any rate, a fun topic of discussion for us of late is the 20th Congressional District Race.

The Players:
– John Sweeney, GOP incumbent. While some in his party laud the “acheivements” of NCLB, Sweeney is more versed in NLLB – No Lobbyist Left Behind.

All kidding aside, however, Sweeney’s voting record is fairly moderate. He’s been pegged by the extremely leftist MoveOn.org as a “swing” voter, however he more often than not sides with Bush and the National GOP in his voting.

The Drum Major Institute gave Sweeney an “F” on their Middle Class Scorecard – however, only about 10 percent of Republican Congressmen passed, and none of them received an “A.” This scorecard is more telling of how many legislators vote party line than they do conscience, but that is beside the point.

– Kirsten Gillibrand, a.k.a. Tina Rutnik, Democrat Challenger: gillibrand is the daughter of Albany-based lobbyist Douglas Rutnik. And, here we are giving Sweeney a hard time. But, to be fair, the only Democrat who could beat a Republican in the 20th CD is one with a LOT of financial backing, which Gillibrand has. She recently (as in, a couple years ago) relocated from New York City to Hudson, NY, so she could challenge Sweeney this year. Perhaps my favorite part of the mudslinging is how Sweeney’s camp makes this sound as if it is an abomination when, in fact, it is done all the time – in fact, Sweeney did it himself (Troy to Clifton Park – a bit less of a stretch than manhattan to Hudson, but still) when he first ran for the seat vacated by the late Gerry Solomon.

Gillibrand, at first, was running a great campaign. She got a lot of people talking about some major issues, especially campaign finance and the Iraq War. However, when it hit the papers that she was Doug Rutnik’s daughter, all hell broke loose. Her campaign manager, Andrew White, began digging up dirt on Sweeney. Though at first the focus was on stuff such as a ski trip to Lake Placid where Sweeney allegedly “invited” a bunch of lobbyists, it soon deteriortated into posting pictures of a drunk Sweeney at a frat party and nit picking over whether or not the headshot on his campaign website was the same as the one on his Congressional website. In the meantime, the Sweeney camp continues to underline the “carpetbagger” angle and the “lobbyist” angle – two things he’s just as guilty of himself.

The campaign has completely deviated from the issues and has, frankly, made me a bit ill. I’m relieved, actually, that I have since moved out of the 20th CD as I won’t have to choose between the two on election day. Granted, I think we all know who I would have chosen, but it’s campaigns like Gillibrand’s that make intelligent voters want to stay home on election day. White keeps claiming Sweeney’s camp refuses to dialogue on issues, but Gillibrand’s camp keeps feeding into the sick cycle of bad press.

Anyway, I mentioned my dear friend, the GOP wonk, for a reason. He sent me this column printed in yesterday’s Troy Record. Though, for the record, I think it is a poorly written piece (it is what was defined as a “rant” when I was in J-school, and an absolute no-no when writing opinion pieces), I can’t deny that Franco’s right: without the Independence line, there’s little chance of Gillibrand winning. She *might* have had a shot had she continued to stay the course of an issue-oriented campaign and kept it clean, however now? Her credibility is shot *and* she doesn’t have a line for liberal-to-moderate Republicans to vote for her on.

So, no Dems in the 20th CD for this term, however I can still keep my eyes on the 24th CD race between Ray Meier (R) and Mike Arcuri (D). Unlike Sweeney, Meier is *not* an incumbent, and unlike Gillibrand, Arcuri was just handed the Independence line, giving him three ballot lines this fall, to Meier’s two. Also, unlike the 20th CD race, the 24th CD race has been focused on issues.

It almost makes me want to move to Oneonta … but not quite. 🙂