ONEONTA _ Political commentators may see the 20th Congressional District race as a contest of national consequence, but Republican James Tedisco, 58, is focused closer to home.
``Rush Limbaugh is meaningless to me,'' Tedisco told the editorial board of The Daily Star on Thursday. ``The only constituency I'm worried about are the residents of the 20th Congressional District.''
Tedisco, the state minority Assembly leader, faces Democrat Scott Murphy in a special election to choose a successor to former Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
Voters will go to the polls March 31. Tedisco, 58, noted that the National Republican Congressional Committee and GOP National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are focused on this race, but he said he is calling his own shots, running his own campaign.
Murphy has had comparable help from Democrats, Tedisco said.
A month ago, his polling lead over Murphy, a venture capitalist from Glens Falls, was in double digits. Last week, according to a Siena Research Institute poll, his margin was down to four percentage points.
But Tedisco said he has since shaken up his campaign.
``I was out in the streets, shaking hands, trying to meet everybody,'' he said. ``I hadn't run a congressional race before, but I realized I had to get inside and take control of my message.''
He's done that now, he said, and the campaign is running much better.
For weeks, Murphy had been pummeling him about his lack of support for the Obama administration's $787 stimulus plan. But as anger has mounted about executive bonuses being paid by bailed-out insurer AIG, Tedisco struck back, announcing he opposes the stimulus because it didn't restrict those payments and is laden with ``$300 billion in earmarks.''
While some earmarks are infrastructure improvements, he said, they shouldn't have been tucked into that plan.