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GOP taps Gibson

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Kinderhook native will challenge Democrat Scott Murphy in House race

ALBANY–The leaders of the county Republican Party committees in the 20th Congressional District have endorsed Chris Gibson as their candidate for the November election to oppose Democrat Scott Murphy.

The weighted vote was announced Wednesday, March 31, following a meeting of the 10 county chairmen at the Desmond Hotel.

Mr. Gibson, a Kinderhook resident, was endorsed over Patrick Ziegler from Burnt Hills, north of Albany. Two others seeking the nomination dropped out of the race in the last few weeks. Despite the support from the party chairs for Mr. Gibson, Mr. Ziegler or some other candidate could seek to force a primary, although that now looks less likely.

The 20th District covers all of Columbia County and all or part of nine other counties from Dutchess County in the south to the Adirondacks and west toward Oneonta. District-wide, Republican enrollment outnumbers that of Democrats  by more than 60,000 voters. But party affiliation has been a less reliable predictor of outcome since 2006, when Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of Greenport defeated incumbent Republican John Sweeney. Ms. Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate in early 2008 shortly after winning reelection to the House. Mr. Murphy, a Glens Falls businessman, then eked out a narrow victory over Assemblyman James Tedisco in a special election in March of that year to fill her seat.

Mr. Gibson is a career U.S. Army officer who recently retired with the rank of colonel, following several tours of duty overseas, including Iraq and, most recently, helping direct humanitarian relief operations in Haiti after the earthquake. He holds a doctorate in government from Cornell University and has taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has also written a book about national defense. He and his wife, Mary Jo, have three children and live in his hometown of Kinderhook, according to his website, http://chrisgibsonforcongress.com.

Expressing his gratitude for the endorsement after Wednesday’s vote by the GOP leaders, Mr. Gibson said in a press release, “Their nomination of my candidacy is proof that a message of reducing taxes, curbing government spending, eliminating onerous regulations and reducing healthcare costs resonates with the citizens of the 20th District. I deeply appreciate everyone’s support and will work hard to preserve that trust and bring constructive change to Washington.”

Mr. Gibson said he was inspired by former President Ronald Reagan and by the late Congressman Jerry Solomon, who also represented this district. He said they had helped the nation and the district emerge “out of the economic malaise of the 1970s with new found strength and hope.”

“Chris’ views on the economy, jobs, healthcare, private sector, and national security parallels our beliefs,” said Gregory Fingar, the chairman of the Columbia County Republican Committee in the release. He said he believed that Mr. Gibson would deliver the Republican message to Washington.

Prior to the vote Wednesday Mr. Gibson had received the endorsement from the Columbia County GOP.

Mr. Murphy has not officially announced his candidacy for reelection, but he has filed the required paperwork, according to an aide.

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