Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (left) isnt facing a competitive race this cycle, but his job will be focusing on protecting vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Tim Bishop.
Hayworth is also seen as imperfect at staying on message, which could be a disadvantage in a tight race.
“It’s going to come down to who can have the best field operation and get out the vote,” an upstate Democratic operative said. “Historically, Democrats do better on the ground.”
Hayworth campaign spokesman Jay Townsend admitted it was a district that wasn’t predisposed to either party.
“This is a swing district. It is going to be a swing district for the next decade,” he said. “Any incumbent can establish the advantages of incumbency here, but it would be difficult for any incumbent here to withstand the tide [of a wave] if you’re on the wrong side of it.”
Still, he said, given the environment, he’d rather be in Hayworth’s shoes.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “this is a referendum on Obama and his leadership. ... The presidential race is what will drive turnout.”
19th district Incumbent: Chris Gibson (R) 1st term (55 percent) Rating: Tossup
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?
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