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martes, marzo 31, 2009

NY-20: I Voted Today

At about 12:30 today, I walked across Route 203 and cast a ballot in the First District, Town of Austerlitz, Columbia County, New York in the NY-20 congressional election. I'm in the southern part of NY-20, right up against the Massachusetts border, and I've lived here for more than 20 years. I know that Murphy now has one vote.

I live close to the fire department, where the poll is. The polling place was not very busy. The fire trucks were parked outside. This is a small, rural town of 900 people. You can win any town election if you get 300+ votes. The Town voted for Obama, and Gillibrand twice, and Gore and Kerry, and it voted for Hilary Clinton for Senate, but the margins of victory were always quite small. The town supervisor is a Democrat; town board members are from both parties.

Turnout so far today has been brisk. There had been 200+ votes cast when I got there. Apparently, there were about 100 votes as of 9:30 am. The poll workers (why do they always have cakes and cookies?) said they thought there would be a sizeable (their word) turnout today even though there was only one race. They did not think it would be a "heavy" turnout. In other words, my predictions of a slight turnout were, well, wrong. That means that the GOTV effort might be working. Or at least the publicity is getting people to vote.

Most people I talk to, regardless of political persuasion, were amazed at the amount of attention this race has generated in the last few weeks. We all received tons of glossy mailings from both sides. In fact, we received so many that we stopped even looking at them. Had I known there were going to be so many, I would have saved them all so I could do a tally of who sent what. I would have liked to send them back to the originators with a note that they were being profligate, that their campaign was wasteful and not particularly effective. My impression is that we received at least 25 mailings, maybe more.

We also received numerous robo calls. Last night, I got one from Vice President Joe Biden. I also got one from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. And, of course, I also got one from Disco T. I would have liked one from President Obama, but evidently, that was not to happen.

On Northeast Public Radio (WAMC) they are today saying authoritatively (do they say things any other way?) that the race is extremely close, that the turnout is big, and that the win might be determined by just a few votes. Maybe that's so.

Regardless of all of that, it's really unusual for this district to be in the spotlight. You'll recall that for years and years we were represented by Gerry Solomon, a proto-militarist who decided that people convicted of simple marijuana possession should lose their federal financial aid for a year, and then by John Sweeney, Solomon's hand picked successor. When the Republicans ruled this district, its vote was taken for granted and it went unnoticed. It was only recently, very recently, that Kirsten Gillibrand won here. We aren't used to receiving national attention.

I am not surprised that people claim this election is some kind of referendum on the Stimulus. My neighbors all seem to acknowledge that the economy is a mess, and I think they're voting for Murphy because he supports the Stimulus and Disco T doesn't.

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