Democrats, Republicans claim gains in “Obama referendum”
Democrats and Republicans each claim bragging rights in a U.S. congressional race billed as a referendum on President Barack Obama.
But political analysts said the special election to fill a vacant seat from New York in the House of Representatives was so close — and yet to be decided — no one has much cause to celebrate.
“It’s basically a tie. It’s like kissing your sister,” said Charlie Cook of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional and presidential races.
As of Wednesday, a day after the election, Democrat Scott Murphy, a venture capitalist, held a lead of fewer than 70 votes over Republican New York Assemblyman Jim Tedisco.
The race likely will be decided by absentee ballots.
“Regardless the final outcome, the fact that we closed a 21-point margin (in the polls) in eight weeks is a testament to the fact that the economic message that Scott Murphy carried resonated with voters and his message was support the president’s economic recovery plan,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen, head of the House Democratic campaign committee.
Republicans said the congressional district, though long Republican, went Democrat in recent years, including last November when Obama won it by 3 percentage points.
“Jim Tedisco has closed the gap in a district that has come to exemplify Democratic dominance,” said Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Republican campaign committee.
“That is a testament to the strength of Jim’s campaign and the effectiveness of the Republican message of fiscal responsibility and accountability,” Sessions said.
Nathan Gonzales of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, said, “Both sides have reasons to be happy, but also reason to be a little disappointed.”
The seat has been open since January, when New York Governor David Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate.
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts (Obama points after signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 30 )