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House Democratic Leaders, N.Y. Delegation to Fete Murphy

House Democratic leaders, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and the entire New York Democratic Congressional delegation are teaming up for a fundraiser to benefit Scott Murphy, the party’s nominee in the special election to succeed Gillibrand in the House.

The fundraiser is set for the evening of March 4 at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), along with Gillibrand, are named on the invitation as hosts of the event.

Although Murphy’s campaign hasn’t formally announced the fundraiser to the media, the invitation was circulating in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — the same day that the New York Times featured an article on the special election that included the line: “National Republican leaders have vowed to make the contest a turning point for their beleaguered party, while Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have signaled that they will not be doing any heavy lifting to help out.”

Murphy, a 39-year-old venture capitalist, is squaring off in the March 31 contest against Jim Tedisco (R), the Minority Leader in the state Assembly. National Republicans have indeed made the race a top priority: Newly installed Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has already visited the upstate district, and he and former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) are scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Tedisco on the same day as the Democratic leaders’ event for Murphy. Other national GOP celebrities are also expected to appear at events for Tedisco.

Republicans are optimistic about winning back the seat that Gillibrand has held since the beginning of 2007 because they have a 70,000-voter edge in party enrollment. But Gillibrand’s success before being appointed to the Senate in late January — along with Murphy’s personal wealth — suggests that the special election should be competitive.

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