Apparently brushing aside an underfunded primary challenge by Dutchess legislator Joel Tyner, local House of Representatives candidate Julian Schreibman says he’s concentrating his first campaign for public office on whom he would face in the general election — incumbent Republican Chris Gibson of Kinderhook, who’s just finishing up his first term.
“My main focus is on the sharp distinctions between myself and the Republican incumbent,” Schreibman, a Marbletown resident, said during an interview.
But Tyner, a five-term Dutchess County legislator from Rhinebeck, identifies plenty of sharp distinctions between him and his June 26 Democratic primary opponent, especially on the controversial subject of hydrofracking. “I think I can win this thing by motivating the Democratic base on the fracking issue,” Tyner said at a separate interview.
In contrast to Schreibman’s so far nearly non-existent primary effort — the events section of the Facebook page “Julian Schreibman for Congress” states the following: “The Julian Schreibman for Congress Page does not have any upcoming events.” — Tyner has been appearing at three to four events each day, duly delineated by a blizzard of e-mails to supporters and news outlets. His supporters have been active both on Facebook and in writing letters to the editor.
Hydrofracking, the practice of injecting chemical-laden fluid at high pressure to extract natural gas from shale deposits, is the hot-button issue of late among local Democrats as the state mulls whether to lift the fracking moratorium and allow it in some parts ofNew York. Critics like current Congressman Maurice Hinchey claim fracking is a potential environmental disaster. Proponents like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Obama see natural-gas exploration as a means to wean the country off foreign oil and to create economic development. Though Tyner accuses Schreibman of waffling on fracking, Schreibman begs to differ. At an interview three weeks ago, Schreibman came out against fracking, reasoning, “We’re not going to wreck everything else on a get-rich scheme for a few.” He wants to see scientific evidence that drilling for natural gas will not harm the environment.
On Monday, Schreibman said his position on fracking “has been clear from the day I announced my candidacy [in January.]” He says he supports Hinchey’s bill that would require fracking to come under the jurisdiction of the federal Environmental Protection Agency “because we cannot risk our air and water on an unproven and deeply concerning practice.”
Schreibman’s got the endorsements
Schreibman, a former Ulster County Democratic chairman, has been endorsed by five county Democratic committees, includingUlsterand Dutchess. Tyner has been endorsed by none.
Schreibman characterized Gibson as a “Tea Party Republican” who “marches in lockstep with the Republican majority in Congress” in opposing programs for veterans, farmers, seniors, college students and Planned Parenthood. Gibson, 47, is a retired career army officer; Schreibman, 39, a former federal prosecutor.
Tyner, a 48-year-old schoolteacher and perennial activist familiar to Dutchess County residents for his constant advocacy of left-wing issues, says there’s already sufficient experience to ban fracking. He also made no apologies for his strident tone. “People want a take no prisoners SOB who will stand up for populist issues,” Tyner said in an interview at Ulster Publishing in April. “People-first populist campaigns are a winner,”
Schreibman, briefly a Democratic hopeful for district attorney in 2007 and county Democratic Party chairman for more than two years ending in January, believes the makeup of the 27-member New York delegation could determine the next majority in Congress. “The road to the majority in the House runs through New York,” he said, adding thatUlsterCounty, which comprises more than a quarter of the population in the new district, will play a key role in his race for Congress.
Schreibman also had this to say about Tyner during an interview last month at Ulster Publishing: “I don’t think anger is a tone that wins over the voters we need to win this seat.”
National struggle on local level
Hinchey announced his retirement in January, sowing the seeds for the demise of his old district in the 2012 reapportionment. The new 19th, which includes counties on both sides of the river, encompasses about 40 percent of Hinchey’s present district.
Both Democratic and Republican national campaign committees consider the district winnable and are expected to heavily invest in the outcome. Schreibman, after a late start due to Hinchey’s belated withdrawal, has raised just over $200,000, including $100,000 of his own money. The Republican, Gibson, starting with a $700,000 campaign war chest, raised a similar amount according to April 15 campaign filings. Tyner said he’s raised about $15,000.
Tyner says that he supports a single-payer Medicare-type system for delivering health care. Schreibman supports Obama’s health-care reforms “absolutely,” but points out that the president’s program “doesn’t change health care. It changes health insurance.”