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Regional Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 9, 2006
Wins 10th term to Congress
McNulty part of Dems power play
By Jarrett Carroll
Democrat Michael McNulty returns to the House for his 10th term with 80 percent of the vote in the Congressional 21st District his highest tally yet.
Yesterday, moments after the announcement of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfelds resignation, McNulty told The Enterprise that voters have sent a clear message to the White House: Its time for change.
"See what has happened in less than 24 hours"" he asked.
Tuesdays election gave the House of Representatives a Democratic majority, and, possibly the Senate, too, depending on the outcome of two close elections in Virginia and Montana. It also saw a sweep in state offices.
With the new majority in the House starting in January, McNulty will be the chairman of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which essentially controls the pursestrings of the House.
Its one of six subcommittees.
This reorganization will be very beneficial to the 21st District, he said. Under McNulty, the Albany-area district is currently ranked 45th highest in federal funding out of the 435 congressional districts nationwide.
"I think that this is a pretty strong indication that voters like what I’m doing"I’m very pleased, these are my highest numbers in an election," said McNulty. "Usually your numbers get worse the longer you are in office; mine are getting better."
His Republican challenger, Guilderland lawyer Warren Redlich, garnered just 22 percent of the vote, a number that Redlich described as "disappointing."
"It’s pretty bad. I didn’t expect to win, but I’m disappointed I didn’t do better," Redlich told The Enterprise. "I’m interested in trying to figure out what happened."
Redlich ran against McNulty for the same seat in 2004 and got over 30 percent of the vote in that election.
"I spent $25,000 in the last election on radio and TV ads," Redlich said of the 2004 race. "Obviously that was more effective."
This year, he relied mostly on Internet advertising.
"What Gillibrand did was very successful," he said about political newcomer Kirsten Gillibrand beating eight-year incumbent Congressman John Sweeny in the neighboring 20th District. The Democratic Party heavily funded the Gillibrand campaign.
Redlich gave his full endorsement to Gillibrand last week, and told The Enterprise that Sweeny "is a coward."
Spending only about $5,000 of his own money on campaigning and not accepting contributions probably contributed to his poor numbers, Redlich said, adding that he did turn down offers for campaign funding. Only about 8,000 people logged onto Redlichs website during his campaign.
"It’s very hard to raise the amount of money you need to raise. People think you press a button and your party gives you a ton of money," Redlich said. "If you can’t write a half-a-million-dollar check, then it isn’t worth it.
"Well, I guess I could have written the check, but the bank probably wouldn’t have honored it," joked Redlich.
McNulty commended Redlichs campaign and said, that, although they differ strongly on many issues, he respects his views.
In Enterprise interviews during the campaign, the only points of loose agreement between the two candidates were that the United States needs to withdraw from Iraq and that New York needs to aggressively pursue embryonic stem-cell research. The candidates expressed opposing views on issues including taxation, gay marriage, Tech Valley, government spending, homeland security, and the minimum wage.
"I admire Warren Redlich; there was absolutely no negative campaigning," said McNulty. "Warren doesn’t make spur-of-the-moment decisions, either. He really takes a long time to think things out before he takes a stance."
McNulty said that, even though he had "a full war chest," he did not spend very much money on the campaign for advertising. He preferred meeting Redlich at debates and attending community events, he said.
When it came to party support, said Redlich, the Republican Party may not have sent him financial support, but it helped to get the signatures he needed to run.
"The town of Colonie’s Republican Committee was very helpful in particular in getting me signatures," Redlich said.
However, Redlich doesnt see real differences between the two major parties.
"I don’t see myself as a Republican. I see myself as an American," he said. "The two parties are more like the Yankees and the Red Sox then they are an ideology. It’s more like, ‘This is my team.’"
As for the future, McNulty said that he doesn’t plan on going anywhere, saying that Congress is "the last political seat I will seek." Redlich said he doesn’t see another match-up against McNulty in 2008.
"I want to take a break to spend more time with my wife and children," Redlich said, adding that, in the future, he wants to help more political newcomers take on entrenched incumbents, and help them raise money to do so.
"We don’t live in a democracy if voters don’t know who’s running," he said.
McNulty agrees with that concept and praised Redlich’s efforts, saying, as a strong advocate for campaign finance reform himself, he wants to "level the playing field" for challengers, too.
Looking forward to enjoying a majority in the House, McNulty said, "We’re going to promote a very positive agenda early on."
The top of that agenda in January will include raising the minimum wage, creating a stem-cell research proposal to "give hope to millions of people across the nation," and creating a "real" energy policy that focuses on green fuels and renewable resources, not foreign oil, he said.
And, most importantly, said McNulty, the Democrats will bring fiscal responsibility back to the federal government. This includes having balanced budgets and "not spending more than you take in," McNulty said, so you stop increasing the national debt and start paying it off, as the Clinton Administration did.
McNulty said that this is something that Republicans talk about all the time, but have failed to act on so far.
He hopes the Democrats will change that.
"This election was a referendum on the Iraq war and the Bush domestic policy, which the President has lost badly," McNulty concluded.
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