Aug. 28, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

New York Freshmen Most Vulnerable

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (left) isn’t facing a competitive race this cycle, but his job will be focusing on protecting vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Tim Bishop.

The court’s redraw left Gibson with a less favorable district: It would have voted by a few points for Obama, and it contains just under half of his current constituents. Because the freshman will be a blank slate to many of the voters, expect Democrats to tie him to his vote for the Ryan budget last year and the way it affects Medicare.

Gibson is a strong campaigner, and as a former military man, he is seen as an incredibly disciplined candidate. He’ll have a lot of opportunities to tell voters his own message about what kind of Congressman he is. Expect to see an emphasis on his independence.

This race is a good opportunity for Democrats, even if they didn’t get the top recruit in Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. The likely Democratic nominee is Julian Schreibman, a former federal prosecutor. “I helped bring terrorists to justice,” he writes on his website, noting his work in convicting members of al-Qaida.

Republicans believe Schreibman won’t make a particularly good candidate districtwide when matched up against Gibson, but Democrats are excited about this race.

If there’s a slight edge to this race, it’s in Gibson’s favor — he ended March with a comfortable $902,000 in the bank — but it’s very slight.

20th district
Incumbent: Paul Tonko (D)
2nd term (59 percent)
Rating: Safe Democratic

In his redrawn, Albany-centered district, Tonko is well-positioned to win another term.

21st district
Incumbent: Bill Owens (D)
1st full term (48 percent)
Rating: Tossup

This is going to be a tough seat for Democrats to keep.

In both his 2009 special election victory and 2010 re-election, Owens never got 50 percent of the vote. And in November, it doesn’t look like there will be a third-party spoiler.

The district remains true tossup territory and includes just under two-thirds of Owens’ current constituents.

Owens will face a rematch with investment banker Matt Doheny, who is a significantly flawed candidate with a lot of money. Republicans believe his considerable wealth and willingness to partly self-fund will compensate for his weaknesses. And Democrats worry that Owens, who had $718,000 in the bank at the end of March, will have trouble keeping up with Doheny in media spending in the district, which includes the Albany, Watertown and Burlington media markets. Doheny loaned his campaign $2.3 million in the 2010 cycle. How much will he put in this time?

“He’s willing to spend whatever it takes to win,” Doheny spokesman Jude Seymour said.

As for the candidates themselves, Owens, a Main Street sort of guy, is a better fit for the district than Doheny, a Wall Street kind of guy, observers of both parties said.

Owens will sell himself as a moderate politician for a moderate district and emphasize his focus on rural job creation. He’s already begun introducing himself to the new parts of the district, and aides believe he’ll connect well with voters there. The contrast Owens will attempt to make between himself and Doheny: a person focused on job creation versus a person focused on Wall Street moneymaking.

Doheny will paint himself as a job creator, too, and ask voters, who have continued to struggle: Where are all the jobs Owens has been so focused on bringing to the region?

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