By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — New internal polling released by both the campaigns of Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and his Democratic challenger, Julian Schreibman of Ulster County, suggests that the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District may be tightening.
On Friday, the Gibson campaign cited new polling data from the incumbent’s consultant, Public Opinion Strategies, showing him with an 11 point lead — 50 percent to 39 percent — over Schreibman with only 25 more days until voters cast their ballots on Nov. 6.
On Sept. 21, an independent poll conducted by Siena College showed Gibson holding a more comfortable 16-point advantage over Schreibman, a former federal prosecutor. Public Opinion Strategies said its new poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. The organization said it sampled voters whose party registration mirrors the party breakdown throughout the district.
“Despite a few weeks of false and misleading attacks by a desperate opponent and his allies, Chris Gibson’s support continues to be strong,” said Gibson campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Valle.
Earlier in the week, the Schreibman campaign produced its own internal poll, showing the Democrat trailing Gibson by only two points.
On Friday, the Schreibman campaign challenged the credibility of the Gibson-commissioned poll, noting it also showed Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney leading President Barack Obama by one percent point in the newly formed district.
Schreibman campaign manager Jonathan Levy said no other poll has shown Romney ahead in the district. “It seems that Congressman Gibson’s pollsters are as out of step with the district as Congressman Gibson is on his voting record,” Levy said.
Gibson, meanwhile, touted the endorsement of ConservAmerica, an environmental conservation group with ties to some Republican officials.
Schreibman aides sent out press releases claiming Gibson held a campaign event outside the district. But the Gibson camp shot back that the event was held in the Rensselaer County town of Brunswick, which is inside the district, though many residents are assigned Troy postal addresses. Troy is outside the district.
“If Julian Schreibman and his campaign staff can’t even figure out what towns are in the 19th district, how can we expect him to represent them in Congress?” asked Valle, the Gibson spokeswoman.
In another indication of the increasingly testy nature of the contest, the Schreibman camp called attention to the fact that a major labor union for government workers, AFSCME, has opted to spend more than $100,000 on television ads knocking Gibson’s congressional voting record.
Earlier this week, two Albany area television stations pulled ads that were paid for by the National Republican Campaign Committee and attacked Schreibman for his role in representing a white-collar crime defendant. While the ad claimed the client was guilty, a judge who presided over the trial tossed out the conviction declaring there was insufficient evidence against him. Although the NRCC agreed to withdraw the ads, the group said it wanted to show Schreibman “profited” by representing white-collar defendants.
Otsego County Democratic Chairman Richard Abbate said he believes Schreibman has gained momentum in recent weeks. “This is definitely a winnable district for Democrats,” he said.
Gibson and Schreibman are scheduled to face off in a debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at the State University College at Oneonta’s Craven Lounge at Morris Hall. That debate is sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
In addition to holding the Republican line, Gibson also is running on the Independence Party and Conservative Party lines. Schreibman, in addition to being the Democratic candidate, is also backed by the Working Families Party.