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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
Murphy is in a stronger position than many thought he would be, having won the special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand by about 700 votes in March 2009.
The only public polling on his general election matchup against Army veteran Chris Gibson (R) showed the incumbent with a 17-point lead, suggesting he is better-known and better-liked than his opponent.
But Republicans are far from conceding this seat, set in a right-leaning region that President Barack Obama carried by just 3 points in 2008.
National Republicans plan to spend more than $700,000 in this district, which includes the Albany media market. And Republicans maintain that Gibson has been an aggressive fundraiser down the stretch, although he reported just $526,000 on hand at the end of August, about a third of what Murphy, a venture capitalist, had in the bank.
Democrats also pounced on recent news that Gibson's campaign manager left in favor of a job with the Republican National Committee. That's not exactly a promising sign for the challenger.
District Profile from Politics in America
Running along the state's eastern border, the 20th starts just outside Poughkeepsie and roughly follows Interstate 87 north into the scenic Adirondack Mountains and the resort areas of Lake George and Essex County. Lake Placid, in Essex County, is at the district's northern tip.
The 20th covers much of the residential Hudson River Valley, where apple farms are the core of its agriculture industry. Although Albany, Schenectady and Troy are all in the 21st, the 20th claims most of their suburbs, helping fuel a population boom in southern Saratoga County. Saratoga Springs attracts tourists during the summer. Malta's Saratoga Technology + Energy Park and Saratoga Springs' Luther Forest Technology Campus add software, technology manufacturing and alternative energy jobs.
The 20th's western end is made up of mainly rural and rugged land and dairy farms from the Hudson River through Greene County, picking up parts of Delaware and Otsego counties. Much of this area hosts fishing, camping and other recreational sites.
Saratoga County sets the tone politically for the district. The presence of unionized state workers outside Albany makes labor an important constituency, but farmers and small-town voters tend to favor the GOP. The 20th, which has the state's second-lowest minority percentage, gave Barack Obama 51 percent of its 2008 presidential vote, but John McCain did well in Greene County and eked out wins in the district's parts of Delaware, Otsego and Rensselaer counties.
Agriculture, tourism, manufacturing
Saratoga Springs, 26,586; Glens Falls, 14,700
The National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa celebrates the history of glass bottle-making.
|2010||general||Chris Gibson (R)||130,178||54.8%|
|Scott Murphy (D)||107,075||45.1%|
|2008||general||Kirsten Gillibrand (D, WFM)||193,651||62.1%|
|Sandy Treadwell (R, INDC, C)||118,031||37.9%|
|2006||general||Kirsten Gillibrand (D, WFM)||125,168||53.1%|
|John Sweeney (R, INDC, C)||110,554||46.9%|
|2004||general||John Sweeney (R, INDC, C)||188,753||65.8%|
|Doris Kelly (D)||96,630||33.7%|
|Morris Guller (CEN)||1,353||0.5%|
|2002||general||John Sweeney (R, C)||140,238||73.3%|
|Frank Stoppenbach (D)||45,878||24%|
|Margaret Lewis (GREEN)||5,162||2.7%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 51%||John McCain: 48%|
|2004||John Kerry: 45%||George W. Bush: 53%|
|2000||Al Gore: 45%||George W. Bush: 51%|