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September 21, 2014
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Gibson formally announces campaign; Opponent’s wealth becomes an issue


NY 19TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — Two-term Congressman Chris Gibson formally announced that he is running for another term in the 19th District, which includes Sullivan, Delaware ,Ulster, part of Orange and six other counties.

The official launch party was on April 22 in Gibson’s hometown of Kinderhook, but it’s been widely known for some time that he would be making another run.

Gibson, who has been called the most “liberal” Republican in the Congress and who has embraced the centrist label, is being challenged this year by a wealthy opponent from the left, in the person of Sean Eldridge.

Eldridge’s website describes him as “founder and president of Hudson River Ventures—a small business investment fund,” and an article in the Poughkeepsie Journal says Eldridge is donating money to his own campaign by matching contributions from small donors. His website says he has raised $520,000 in the first quarter of 2014.

His opponents say much of his funding is coming from his partner, Facebook co-founder and New Republic publisher Chris Hughes. On a news program on YNN on April 19, Gibson said of his challenger, “He married into money. He did well on that score. Anything that I’m saying here you can’t refute it. These are just facts. He moved into the district after the last election. He has relatively no experience. He has absolutely no ties to the districts and it shows in the issues.”

Eldridge moved into the district after the last election, which was formed after the departure of longtime liberal Congressman Maurice Hinchey. It’s a district that is increasingly seen as Democratic and interested parties of both sides of the political spectrum are saying that this election is one to watch.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is clearly taking a special interest. If you search Eldridge’s name on Google, at least with the Firefox Browser, the top site that pops up is www.seaneldridgeforcongress2014.com, which was created by NRCC, although at first viewers might believe they are looking at an official Eldridge site. But, the first post on the home page says, “Multi-millionaire Sean Eldridge is running for Congress so that he can take his rightful place alongside the liberal elitist establishment in Washington D.C. that is seeking to return America to the one-party rule of 2008-10. Sean is hoping to buy your support in the coming 18 months and he put a big down payment on that purchase when he bought his new $2 million mansion in Shokan so that he could run for Congress.”

For his part, Eldridge hammers on the fact that, although Gibson voted against the budget crafted by budget committee chairman Paul Ryan this year, a budget that would have imposed what critics consider to be draconian cuts, Gibson had voted in favor of Ryan’s budget in 2011.

The post says, “’This is not the first time we’ve seen Chris Gibson act like a typical politician in an election year, but voters have the right to know where he stands on these important issues,’” said Eldridge. “Unlike Chris Gibson, there is no mistaking my view on the policies the Ryan budget promotes. I would never support them, regardless of which way the political winds are blowing. The Republican budget proposals are dangerous for the Hudson Valley, and wrong for everyday Americans.”

There is a bit of irony in the charge that the 27-year-old is a rich candidate trying to buy an election. In an article in Mother Jones Magazine dating back to December 2012, titled “Sean Eldridge Wants to Curb the Influence of Big Donors—Like Himself,” Eldridge is painted as a man who has been heavily involved at the highest levels of trying to reform campaign finance in New York State. His approach is to replicate the method used in New York City, where individual donations of up to $175 are matched by up to six times as much in taxpayer money. Such a system, according to Eldridge, would cost each taxpayer only $3 to $4 per year.

In the meantime, he is planning to spend big in hopes of being elected.