Party asks assemblyman to consider challenging Murphy for House seat
HILLSDALE–State Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro (R-103rd) is considering a run for Congress in the 20th Congressional District seat this November. The district, which extends into 10 counties, includes all of Columbia County.
Though he has yet to decide whether to throw his hat in the ring Assemblyman Molinaro told The Columbia Paper this week that both GOP party officials and elected officials throughout the 20th district have asked him to contemplate taking on the Democratic candidate, who is likely to be Congressman Scott Murphy, a Glens Falls Democrat, who narrowly won the seat in a special election last spring against then Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-110th). The seat became open following Kirsten Gillibrand’s appointment to the U.S. Senate.
“As a courtesy to them” and in the ongoing “exploration of my path of public service,” the 34-year-old assemblyman from Red Hook said, “I’m thinking about it.”
Noting the “enormous challenges” facing the country and the state, Assemblyman Molinaro stressed his commitment to working on behalf of the public.
He sees “structural reform of state government” as imperative to drive down costs and reduce the tax burden.
There is “no better time for reforming government,” he said pointing to his current involvement on the Ways and Means Committee where he believes he is making an impact.
Mr. Molinaro is now serving his fourth year as assemblyman, and despite his relative youth, served as mayor of Tivoli for 13 years and on the Dutchess County Legislature for 6 years, concurrently. He and his wife, Christy, have two children.
Congressman Murphy, who just turned 40, was a businessman with a venture capital firm, who started and ran several companies before embarking on his campaign for Congress. He and his wife Jen live in Glens Falls and have three youngsters.
Congressman Murphy has the full backing of Columbia County Democrats, according to County Democratic Committee Chairman Chris Nolan, who is confident that the congressman is preparing for a re-election bid.
Assemblyman Molinaro will have “a very difficult time” trying to earn the support of local Democrats, said Mr. Nolan, because “he is not a friend to Democrats, despite his posturing.”
Columbia County Republican Committee Chairman Greg Fingar told The Columbia Paper by email Tuesday that Mr. Molinaro “would make an excellent candidate given his leadership skills, commitment to fiscal responsibility and dedication to public service.”
Mr. Fingar said he has discussed a Murphy challenge with the assemblyman and believes “Assemblyman Molinaro has given this very important decision a great deal of time. At this time, however, the assemblyman feels he needs to continue his work in Albany on the [Ways and Means] Committee as well as his fiscally conservative approach to return NYS to the Empire State Status it once was.
“Finally, and probably most important, the assemblyman and his wife are currently raising two children and he is concerned about dedicating the necessary time to serve in Congress at the expense of his family.”
Assemblyman Molinaro said while it is flattering to think he could be a successful candidate for Congress, he is also a believer in “doing a job well” and “finishing a job.”
He said he will decide whether to take on the challenge or remain where he is sometime in the next few weeks.
He is no stranger to political challenges, having run against and defeated Assemblyman Patrick Manning, the Republican incumbent in a 2006 primary, followed up with a victory in the November election that year. Mr. Molinaro easily won reelection in 2008.
But even if Mr. Molinaro does decide to enter the race, he is likely to find others from his own party also seeking the opportunity to run for the seat. The most populous part of the congressional district is Saratoga County, part of which is represented by Mr. Tedisco. The 20th District extends north into the Adirondacks, south through the northern half of Dutchess County and west through the Catskills toward the central part of the state.
Neither Congressman Murphy nor Assemblyman Tedisco returned calls asking whether they plan to run for Congress again.