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Supporters of Chris Gibson and Scott Murphy rally in Troy (Photo:  Brian Mann)
Supporters of Chris Gibson and Scott Murphy rally in Troy (Photo: Brian Mann)

NY-20: Final Murphy-Gibson debate brings substance

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With just over a week to go before the November election, Congressman Scott Murphy and challenger Chris Gibson met last night for the final debate in the 20th House district race.

That district stretches from Poughkeepsie in the south all the way to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid in the North.

The face-off in Troy was civil and issue-driven, despite an often bitter and negative ad campaign that has included millions of dollars in spending by outside groups.

Brian Mann was one of the panelists for last night's debate and has our story.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

The debate was hosted by public television station WMHT and even before the two candidates arrived their supporters were rallying outside.

John Ellis from Saratoga Springs is a union member who supports Democrat Scott Murphy.

Actuality:  Well, he’s for the middle class and healthcare.  Two things we need to rebuild, health care and middle class.  Unions built the middle class and they’re being destroyed by big business.

Bill Zeronda from Clifton Park supports Republican Chris Gibson.

Actuality:  Well we want a change. Mr. Murphy has done nothing for us, he’s been voting right alongside Nancy Pelosi the whole time.

Inside the debate, Gibson and Murphy sparred over a wide range of issues, sounding mostly informed and thoughtful.

Murphy raised one of his top issues in this campaign, a plan to raise taxes on American companies that open factories overseas. 

Actuality:  My opponent disagrees with me.  He says we shouldn’t change those tax loopholes that allow companies to ship jobs overseas.  Well, I have a question, Chris.  How long do we have to wait before start to address this problem?

Gibson argued that that idea was part of a broader Democratic agenda of raising taxes across the economy.

Actuality: What I’ve said all along, and the tax pledge I took, now is not the time to raise taxes.  I went through the period of the depression, where we raised taxes and went from a recession to a double-dip recession to a depression.

Gibson also addressed one of his main issues, a plan to repeal the healthcare reform act passed by Democrats.

Actuality:  This is going to crush our economy.  Not only do I think this is a step back in terms of our healthcare system.  Small businesses owners deal with impediments to growth, taxes, regulations, and healthcare cost.  We just made it worse for them.

Murphy, who voted for that bill, says it needs to be improved, but says repealing it would leave millions of people vulnerable. 

Actuality:  It’ll give insurance companies the power to put lifetime and annual caps back on your policy, so you lose your insurance right when you need it.  It’ll make it so that kids can be denied access to coverage. A seven-year-old with juvenile diabetes or autism won’t be able to get coverage.  And it means the donut hole will be reopened for our seniors.

The two men also disagreed on campaign finance reform.  Murphy blasted secretive groups that are running ads in the district without revealing who’s paying for them.

Actuality:  I think it’s a simple American value.  If you contribute to  Chris’s campaign or my campaign, you have to disclose your name, how much you contributed and where you’re from.  But there are these groups out there, 527s they’re called, they’re raising hundreds of millions of dollars we’re hearing now.  No one knows where the money comes from, no one knows what their agenda is and they’re pouring that money into elections.

Gibson said he thought the disclose act would have unfairly targeted those groups and individuals that tend to support Republican candidates.

Actuality: I mean this is something I could have supported if it was worded in a way that was fair and evenly applied.  The bill that was designed to combat corruption was itself corrupt.  You know, it excluded, it set up all these reporting requirements and then for union leadership they were excluded from it.  All these other special interest groups were excluded from it.  Let’s apply it fairly and that’s something that I could be supportive of.  I’m supportive of political reform and I support term limits, because I believe we need to attenuate the affect of money on this process. 

Polls in this race have shown Murphy with a lead over Gibson, but the race is close and all observers expect it to tighten even more as election day approaches.

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