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New York - 21st District

Incumbent -- Paul Tonko (D) ; Running for re-election

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key
 

CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

As the terminus of the Erie Canal, which connects the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, New York's Capital District was one of the state's earliest industrial centers. Blue-collar workers and state employees give the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area a substantial union population and a solidly Democratic vote.

State budget shortfalls have led to layoffs in Albany, the capital. Nearly 13 percent of the district's workforce is employed by the state government, and the city government in Albany adds tens of thousands of jobs. The Egg performing arts complex located downtown at Empire State Plaza is a centerpiece of Albany's skyline.

Despite large-scale, decades-long industrial losses, manufacturing remains a force in the district. But the region has diversified with research and development, alternative energy and technology firms. Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which works on nanotech research and development, recently won a $57.5 million federal grant to develop new solar energy technology. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and several liberal arts colleges also are in the 21st. Many members of the district's white-collar workforce are connected to the GE corporate and research facilities in Schenectady. The rest of the 21st includes rolling farm fields in the west and a gateway to the Adirondack Mountains in the north.

The 21st's Democrats are not self-described liberals but outnumber registered Republicans in the district's population centers in Albany and Rensselaer counties near the city of Albany and in Schenectady County. Barack Obama won here with 58 percent of the district's vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Major Industry

Government, technology, manufacturing

Military Bases

Watervliet Arsenal (Army), 1 military, 630 civilian (2011)

Cities

Albany, 97,856; Schenectady, 66,135; Troy, 50,129

Notable

Samuel Wilson, a meatpacker who provided the Army with much of its rations during the War of 1812, is believed to be the inspiration for "Uncle Sam" and is buried in Troy.

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