Democrat back in Congress after expensive battle

Section: Election 2008,  Page: A13

Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Despite the millions of dollars spent by her challenger, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand declared victory in the 20th Congressional District on Tuesday.

Gillibrand said her campaign knocked on 70,000 doors in the past few days and showed "unprecedented outreach in the district."

"When you work that hard because you want your voice to be heard, it means someday you win," Gillibrand said.

At press time, Gillibrand had 62 percent of the votes with 99 percent of the districts reporting.

Gillibrand, 41, of Greenport, campaigned on a message of increased regulation on Wall Street, withdrawal from Iraq, capitalizing on the colleges and technological businesses in the district to create jobs and simpler health care.

Gillibrand appeared at the Gideon Putnam Resort with her husband, Jonathan; her father, Doug Rutnik; and extended family.

The Democrat said she wants to see campaign finance reform and has voted in favor of it as a congresswoman.

"The reason you raise money is so you can get your message out, but there were many negative ads during this campaign. The voters dismissed it," Gillibrand said.

Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman John "Jasper" Nolan admitted it is a tough year for his party. Treadwell could not get beyond Gillibrand's ability to reach her constituents, he said.

Treadwell, 62, promised to never raise taxes during his campaign. He also said he would not accept pay and would leave Congress after three terms in office because he believes in term limits.

"It's been a long road," Treadwell said. "I put 73,000 miles on my car, I've worn out a pair of shoes and I just finished a four-day tour of all 10 counties in the district."

Campaign spokesman Peter Constantakes said Treadwell is "going home to relax. Public service is part of his life. He plans to remain active on issues that are critical to the quality to the life in the district."

The 20th Congressional District race was an extraordinarily expensive one. Gillibrand spent $3.5 million and Treadwell spent $5.5 million, most of which he contributed himself.

Gillibrand won with 53 percent of the district in 2006, beating Sweeney and ending a longtime Republican reign in the district. There are 455,048 registered voters in the 10-county district, 42 percent of them are Republican, 26 percent are Democrats.

The large district stretches 250 miles, from Essex County where Treadwell got his start in politics, to Dutchess County, just north of Poughkeepsie.

Leigh Hornbeck can be reached at 454-5352 or by e-mail at