COOPERSTOWN - In the face of a new poll showing he is trailing Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, by 16 percentage points, Democratic challenger Julian Schreibman of Ulster County contended Friday his message to voters is working and predicted he will come out on top on Election Day.
Schreibman shrugged off the new snapshot of the race from Siena College. The poll of 635 likely voters indicated that 52 percent back Gibson, a former U.S. Army colonel who served both in Iraq and the first Gulf War, while just 36 percent favor Schreibman, who assisted in the prosecution of four al-Qaida members who bombed U.S. embassies.
“Almost exactly two years ago to the day, Gibson was down even more than that and ended up winning by 10 points,” Schreibman told The Daily Star. “What it tells us is that it’s a very early poll. Folks are just starting to look at the race.”
He then went into his windup with his oft-repeated assault on Gibson: “We know from talking to voters that when they learn that Congressman Gibson promised to focus on jobs and the economy, has no record at all on jobs and the economy, and instead has been voting the Tea Party agenda to end Medicare, to restrict a women’s right to choose, to defund Planned Parenthood - those aren’t the priorities of upstate New Yorkers. It’s not why they sent him to Congress. When they learn that we get a very positive response.”
Gibson is serving his first term in Congress, having defeated former Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, in 2010, whose political fortunes fizzled despite an 11th hour assist from former President Bill Clinton.
The new poll comes just a little more than six weeks before the Nov. 6 election.
Asked whether the poll will prompt him to shake up his campaign or revise his central message - attempting to paint Gibson as a fellow traveler with the hard-right Tea Party - Schreibman said he will stick to the themes he has been expressing.
“We feel very good that when folks know the truth about Congressman Gibson’s voting record that they won’t be supporting him,” Schreibman said during an afternoon stroll with Cooperstown Village Mayor Jeff Katz.
The poll indicated that Schreibman was unfamiliar to nearly two-thirds of the voters in the newly carved 19th Congressional District - including about half of those who say they will vote for the Democratic challenger. The Siena survey said voters believe Gibson, by wide margins, will do a better job on every issue than Schreibman — including jobs and the federal deficit.
Gibson campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said the Siena results show Schreibman’s attacks have been a flop with voters.
“Today’s poll is further proof that New Yorkers are tired of negative campaigning, false attacks and the distortions that are coming from our opponent and his allies,” Valle said. “Chris has built a record of service of putting upstate New York first and focusing on bipartisan solutions. Quite simply, that is a record that is resonating well across the 19th Congressional district regardless of an individual’s political affiliation.”
Siena said its poll had a margin of error of plus/minus 3.9 percentage points.
Mayor Katz, a Democrat who had treated Gibson to a similar tour of the village a few months ago, said in response to questions that he is not issuing an endorsement of Schreibman at this time.
Katz said while he wants to see Congress return to Democratic control next year, he was not sure about the mechanics of signaling an endorsement.
“I really don’t know how this works and how it unrolls,” explained the mayor as Schreibman stood next to him.
Both campaigns said Gibson and Schreibman have agreed to debate three times before the election. Valle said the tentative schedule calls for the first debate to be in Ulster County on Oct. 10.
Following his appearance in Cooperstown, Schreibman went to Oneonta on Friday night to open a new campaign office at 12 South Main St.