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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The finish line ... at last

The election in New York's 20th Congressional District is under way and will be over at 9 tonight.

Thank God!

... not because a seat in Congress will be filled after being vacant for two months, but because one of the meanest, angriest, most spiteful and most hateful campaigns in recent political history will finally be over.

I mean, here we are, after two months of non-stop campaign advertising, and I - a reasonably intelligent and attentive guy when it comes to the news of the day - can tell you far more about what each side hates about the other guy than I can about what each guy stands for.

I know that Democrat Scott Murphy claims to have created 1,000 jobs and backs President Obama's economic stimulus plan, and I know Republican Jim Tedisco opposes the stimulus plan and says he's fighting for people like us (whatever the heck that means). But that's really it.

What about health care, education, foreign policy, immigration, the environment and countless other issues that voters care about? Not a peep in Murphy's or Tedisco's campaign commercials about these things. Instead, they (and the national party committees who bankroll some of the ads) think we care about how much money Tedisco charges taxpayers for his state vehicle, Murphy's connections to overseas companies, how this guy said one thing but did another, and how that guy ... oh, WHO GIVES A CRAP!!!

And the reality is that, in the grand scheme of things, this election doesn't matter that much. It's important that the people of 20th District have able representation in the House, of course, but to portray this as some sort of national referendum on Obama's policies - as the likes of Fox, CNN, The Associated Press and USA Today have been doing - is just hogwash.

This is, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a local election among a relatively small group of voters who, sadly, will make their decisions today not on the basis of the candidates' policy positions, but on the grounds of whose negative ads had a more devastating effect on the opponent.

How sad.



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