KINGSTON, NY — In the 19th Congressional District, an incumbent who grew up in the district, faces a challenger who moved in just last year.
“We’ve partnered with some incredibly hard-working, fantastic small businesses — mainly family-owned businesses. Really proud to work with them, to help them succeed,” said Sean Eldridge, a 19th Congressional District candidate.
He’s a business owner, but not a lifer here — Eldridge grew up in Ohio.
“My dad was a Republican; my mom was a Democrat. So we talked about politics a good bit. My parents didn’t agree on a lot of issues, but they both instilled in me a passion for getting involved,” said Eldridge.
And he has. Six years ago, Eldridge helped foster the online momentum to elect President Barack Obama. He later became a lead lobbyist in Albany for same-sex marriage.
“That helped a lot of families in New York State. Marriage is about the critical safety net of rights, and responsibilities, and protections that I think every family deserves,” said Eldridge.
His image is well-polished: a rapid-fire word association game, drew carefully-worded responses.
“At the age of three, we moved upstatem about a three minute walk from here on Williams Street in Kinderhook.”
Chris Gibson, the two-term Republican, discussed his local upbringing and talked up his 24-year Army career.
“A very patriotic community. Solid families; strong friendships,” said Gibson. “That has really solidified a deep appreciation and a commitment to service, to preserving this incredible way of life — initially by protecting it, and now trying to advance it.”
To do so, Gibson said his aim takes him across the aisle, having earned him the label of, “liberal Republican.”
“You have members on both sides of the aisle that, if they don’t get 100% of what they want, they won’t vote for an important piece of legislation. You’ve got to have the temperament to listen, to understand, and to bring people together, if you want to make a difference in this positive time,” said Gibson.
For whomever wins this race, there is surely a tough road ahead.
“There’s always going to be some cynicism and negativity in our politics. That’s not what I’m focused on. I’m focused on how we can move forward; how we can bring some new blood, some new energy,” said Eldridge.
“We’ve earned respect and support, because we bring people together to get things done, and deliver results,” said Gibson.
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