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New York: Ball Moves Forward With Challenge to Hall

Clarification Appended

State Assemblyman Greg Ball (R), who has set up an exploratory committee as he considers taking on second-term Rep. John Hall (D), was in Washington, D.C., on Friday to meet with party leaders and interest groups.

Ball, a conservative pushing a reform agenda in the state Legislature, has riled leaders from both parties on occasion with his hardline stances and aggressive tactics. Recently he was in the news when he found a dead goat in his yard spraypainted with “MS-13,— the name of a Salvadoran youth gang. The gesture was an apparent reference to his anti-immigration positions.

Republicans believe that a solid nominee could give Hall trouble in the Hudson Valley-based 19th district, which President Barack Obama won by 3 points in 2008. GOP strategists note that it’s the same margin of victory that Obama had in the adjoining 20th district, where a too-close-to-call special election was held last week.

The National Republican Congressional Committee kept the pressure on Hall on Friday, accusing him of being in the pocket of IBM. An NRCC news release noted that Hall criticized the latest round of layoffs at IBM but accepted almost $20,000 in campaign contributions from the computer giant.

“The message to John Hall is simple — actions speak louder than words,— NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain said in a statement. “If Hall is willing to condemn IBM for sending jobs overseas, he should be more than willing to return the nearly $20,000 he’s received from them during the course of his political career.—

20th’s Absentee Ballot Counting Begins Today

Absentee ballots will begin to be counted today from last week’s special election in the 20th district, though a final result isn’t expected for another week at the earliest. As of press time Friday, Republican Jim Tedisco was leading Democrat Scott Murphy by nine votes in the race to replace appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in the House.

Tedisco announced Friday that he was stepping down from his post as Minority Leader in the state Assembly in order to “begin my transition to Congress.— Tedisco expressed confidence that he would prevail in his now-in-overtime contest with Murphy, a businessman and political neophyte.

But several New York media outlets reported that if Tedisco had not abandoned his Minority Leader post, the other 40 Assembly Republicans were poised to hold a no-confidence vote about his leadership.

Tedisco has not said whether he will remain in the Assembly if he ultimately loses the Congressional election, but his departure as leader means that Brian Kolb is likely to be elected the Assembly’s top Republican as early as today. If Kolb becomes Minority Leader, he won’t challenge freshman Rep. Eric Massa (D) in the 29th district next year.

Clarification: April 17, 2009

The article notes that the National Republican Congressional Committee hit Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) for accepting almost $20,000 in contributions from IBM. That figure refers to contributions from IBM executives and employees; the firm cannot directly contribute to Congressional candidates, and it does not have a political action committee.

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