Showdown in the 20th

Two local politicians go head-to-head to claim the 20th Congressional District seat. Plus: local races

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In a victory two years ago that surprised many political observers, Democratic newcomer Kirsten Gillibrand took New York’s 20th Congressional District from eight-year Republican incumbent John Sweeney. Gillibrand’s electoral feat was remarkable for a number of reasons: Not only would she be the first woman to represent the district but, as the 15th Democratic candidate to defeat a Republican congressperson that night, her upset win meant Democrats would control the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years (they would take back the Senate a few hours later).

Now — despite running in what looks to be another banner year for Congressional Democrats — Gillibrand faces a tough reelection fight against Republican challenger Sandy Treadwell. Any Democrat-favorable headwinds on the national level are mostly negated by the G.O.P.’s district-wide advantage in registered voters (Republicans outnumber Democrats by a three-to-two margin). In addition, Treadwell — who served as New York’s Secretary of State under Gov. George Pataki from 1995-2001 and as chairman of the Republican state committee from 2001-2004 — has drawn from his family fortune (his grandfather was one of General Electric’s founding executives) to challenge Gillibrand’s own impressive fundraising campaign. The race has shaped up to be one of the most competitive in the state, and has garnered some national attention as well.

Since the race has become so heated, and because a sizable portion of Valley dwellers reside in the 20th district (which encompasses all of Columbia and Greene counties, as well as parts of Rensselaer and Dutchess counties), Hudson Valley asked Gillibrand and Treadwell to discuss their personal lives and how, if elected, they would address the issues that most concern Valley residents. We hope the following interviews give you a sense of who the candidates are, what matters most to them, and which of the two would best represent you in Washington.


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