The candidates in New York’s new 19th congressional district are no strangers to public service. Incumbent Chris Gibson, who ousted Scott Murphy in the GOP tsunami of 2010, served four tours in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart and four Bronze Stars over a 24-year career in the Army. The Kinderhook native also taught U.S. politics at West Point. Newcomer Julian Schreibman, a Democrat, worked as an attorney in the CIA — the intelligence agency, not the culinary school — where he helped convict members of al-Qaeda charged with bombing U.S. embassies. When he returned home to Ulster County in 2005, he signed on as an assistant district attorney. He now works for a private firm in Kingston.
Gibson focused on agricultural and military matters on the Hill and proposed several bills to provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Irene, though none passed. Both candidates are harping on the need for job creation, with Gibson pushing for lower taxes and less regulation and Schreibman for infrastructure investment and job training. Schreibman has attacked Gibson repeatedly on the issue of Medicare, saying he voted for a budget plan by vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan that would “end Medicare as we know it.” Gibson has disputed Schreibman’s characterization of the Ryan plan, claiming he would never vote to cut funding to the program.
The district was redrawn this year to encompass more of retiring Democratic stalwart Maurice Hinchey’s constituency, meaning voter enrollment is not as favorable to Republicans as it once was. (It still includes all or parts of Columbia, Greene, Dutchess and Rensselaer counties, with Ulster added in now as well.) Early polling put Gibson ahead by double-digit points, but that gap should shrink as voters become more familiar with Schreibman.