There are about 40 Democrats at the Brik Gallery in Catskill on a Sunday morning. That’s an incredibly healthy amount for Greene County, where the elephants outnumber the donkeys two to one. Democratic chairwoman Doreen Parsley Davis is ecstatic that the Dems have been able to find six candidates to run for the county legislature — in which there are 14 seats. The county party’s picked up 300 new members since January 2011. Davis says she’s thrilled to be in a new congressional district, the 19th, which includes Ulster, Greene, Dutchess, Columbia, Sullivan, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie and pieces of Montgomery and Rensselaer counties.
Much of the district is outside the territory that congressman Chris Gibson used to have. A good piece of what wasn’t Gibsonland was formerly part of the retiring congressman Maurice Hinchey’s district. “For us, this puts us in a competitive district in terms of a Democrat running well,” says Davis. “The new 19th district was 52-48 for Obama in 2008.” She says she’s looking to cut the Greene Democratic deficit.
Of the 40 or so faithful, at least 32 appear AARP-ready. They are introduced to Julian Schreibman, a Democratic candidate for the seat.
The gallery walls are bare. Just plain white walls, sans art. Schreibman, impeccably dressed in a blue suit, introduces himself in front of a ‘Schreibman for Congress’ banner, all red, white and blue. Grew up in Ulster County, father a WWII vet, mother ran a ballet school. Supported himself through Yale, worked for the CIA (the real one, not the Culinary Institute), and as a prosecutor in Ulster.
“My opponent is Chris Gibson, Republican,” says Schreibman. Calling Gibson a tea partier, he’ll seek to “make a 180-degree change, stop the tea-party agenda.” As he makes clear during the talk and afterward, Schreibman is decidedly to the left, concerned that Republican policies have widened the gap between Americans of differing economic circumstances and that opportunity isn’t knocking for those less fortunate.
After a 20-minute-or-so talk, he takes questions.
“First talk about the upcoming primary,” urges the first hand in the air. “I’ve been getting letters from the Tyner people …”
“My focus is not about talking of slivers of difference between two Democrats,” says Schreibman. “It’s about Gibson’s inconsistent and horrible voting record. There have been some negative and inaccurate things said about me, but we both want the best for the district. I can beat Chris Gibson and he can’t.”