This seat was vacated by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in January after she was promoted to the U.S. Senate by New York Governor David Paterson, to replace former Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton.
The fact that Democrat Scott Murphy even has a slight lead in a district where Republican voters outnumber Democrats by 70,000 is a testament to the continued high popularity of President Obama. As of yesterday’s vote tally the Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, a businessman and venture capitalist, had 77,344 votes to 77,279 votes for Republican Tedisco.
Last week President Obama took time away from dealing with the national economic crisis to endorse Scott Murphy and sent an e-mail to 60,000 Obama supporters in the 20th district encouraging them to get out and vote for Murphy during this special election. Many of these supporters were on both sides of the political aisle and it appears that Obama’s endorsement may have been enough to push Scott Murphy over the top, despite a huge disadvantage in the number of registered Republican voters over that of the registered Democratic voters in the district.
For their part the National Republican Congressional Committee also worked hard to regain this seat. The NRCC along with outside groups and political action committees spent a total of 1.7 million on behalf of Jim Tedisco in an effort to win back a Republican seat in a heavily Republican district.
Because of the closeness of the race and because about 10,000 absentees votes are yet to be counted the final outcome will not be know for another couple of weeks when the absentee ballots are opened and counted on April 13th. Even before polls closed yesterday, a New York judge ordered the absentee ballots impounded in response to a lawsuit filed by the state Republican Party. It is expected that the Republican lawsuit will tie up the final outcome of the race in the courts for months.