New York: AIG, Bank Bailout Front and Center in Special

Posted March 18, 2009 at 6:03pm

Voters may not find the discussion very stimulating, but the stimulus plan that Congress passed earlier this year has been topic A in the special election in New York’s 20th district.

For weeks, Democrats have hammered the Republican nominee, state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco on the stimulus — first, for not taking a public position on the legislation, then for saying he opposed it. The Democratic nominee, venture capitalist Scott Murphy, has done everything he can to associate himself with President Barack Obama’s recovery bill — appearing at construction projects whenever possible.

On Wednesday, Murphy stood in front of Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park — in a school district that may have to eliminate more than 40 jobs because of budget cuts.

“As our communities face drastic cuts during this economic crisis, the last thing we need in Washington is another career politician like my opponent who will vote No’ on saving and creating jobs, No’ on holding the line on property taxes, and No’ on turning our economy around,— Murphy said.

But now Republicans are hoping that Murphy’s enthusiastic support for the stimulus plan comes back to haunt him. With public outrage at a boil over the government bailout of insurance giant AIG, Republicans are pointing to language in the stimulus bill that they say protects bonuses like the ones awarded to AIG officials.

“The question for Scott Murphy is simple,— the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a statement Wednesday. “Did Scott Murphy ever actually read the bill or did he knowingly support a bill that would hand out millions in taxpayer-funded bonuses to Wall Street executives?—

Murphy has replied by saying that it was the bailout bill for the financial services industry, crafted by the Bush administration last fall, that allowed corporate executives to hold on to their big bonuses.

But Republicans are unbowed and are likely to make the AIG bailout a centerpiece of their final attacks on Murphy before the March 31 election.

Meanwhile, after criticizing national Republicans for airing too many negative ads, Tedisco began airing two new ads this week: one is a populist message in which he rails against “Wall Street greed,— and the other mildly rebukes Murphy for some of the statements the Democrat made in his ads.

The two candidates in the tight race to replace now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) will be releasing their first campaign finance reports today.