Those who would like to make their voices heard in Washington will have the opportunity to do so with tomorrow's congressional primaries.
And unlike many election years, this one not only offers what are expected to be competitive races in the fall but also some genuine clashes of ideas among candidates for both parties.
Democrats will be picking their man to run against incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook in the newly drawn 19th District. Frontrunner Julian Schreibman, a former federal prosecutor who lives in Ulster County, has levied more criticism at Gibson than at primary foe Joel Tyner, a five-term Dutchess County legislator.
Schreibman received a boost this week from outgoing Rep. Maurice Hinchey, who is retiring after 20 years representing some of the turf that was included in the new 19th District. Schreibman has taken issue with Gibson for voting to extend the 2001 tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year, for his support of Medicare vouchers and for his environmental stances.
But Tyner, whose pugnacious style was on display a week ago in New Paltz at the two candidates' only debate, has taken plenty of jabs at the frontrunner Schreibman — whose campaign war chest of $257,316.95 dwarfs Tyner's $8,500, according to Federal Elections Commission filings.
Tyner has attacked what he perceives as Schreibman's lukewarm stances on hydraulic fracturing, foreign policy and Wall Street corruption. Schreibman has somewhat evasively said that fracking simply requires further study, but this week opposed the Cuomo administration's leaked plan to allow limited fracking in the Southern Tier.
Republicans have a three-way contest to determine who runs against incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Manhattan lawyer Wendy Long and Rep. Bob Turner, who took disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner's seat away from the Democrats last year, are the frontrunners in a race that also includes Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
The campaign has been somewhat mild with all three candidates sharing many of the same positions, but some important distinctions were made last week when they debated in Manhattan.
Long, who along with Maragos has signed lobbyist Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge, chided Turner's position that tax hikes should be on the table in Capitol Hill negotiations. Turner said his stance is the only realistic option with Democrats controlling the White House and Senate.
Rep. Richard Hanna faces a challenge in the new 22nd District from Michael Kicinski of Earlville, an electronics engineer and Norwich Tea Party Patriots activist. The portion of Otsego County that Hanna represents was added to the new 19th District.
With so much at stake, voters should find the time to make their voices heard in some races that offer real, tangible choices.