Democrat Murphy wins N.Y. special election

Republican Jim Tedisco conceded the race to fill an open congressional seat on Friday; the vote itself took place last month.

Published April 24, 2009 8:15PM (EDT)

Minnesota could learn a thing or two from New York: Here in the Empire State, we manage to wrap up our elections only a month after the vote was actually held.

Republican Jim Tedisco faced off against Democrat Scott Murphy on March 31 in a contest to fill a House seat that opened up when Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate. Election night ended with the two locked in a virtual dead heat, necessitating the counting of absentee ballots and dragging the race on until this afternoon, when Tedisco called Murphy to concede and the Democrat declared victory.

National Democrats were quick to jump on the story as evidence of their party's strength. Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse e-mailed reporters a memo on the victory in which he wrote, "The outcome of last month’s Special Election in New York’s 20th Congressional District is further proof that the public supports President Obama, his agenda... and the overall direction he is leading the country. The outcome also goes to show that the Republican Party has no new ideas, is tied to the failed policies of the past and that it is in disarray and faces an uphill battle in local and state elections in 2009 and 2010."

As I wrote back on the day the special election was held, that's a little much. No matter which side won, politicians and pundits would try to claim that the outcome was evidence of some national trend, but you really can't accurately conclude anything based on this race. Voters in a single House district are a good indicator of how voters in that single House district feel, and not much more.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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