March 9, 2009 · 12:05 AM EDT
To play or not to play, that is the question. Democrats began this year holding 257 seats in the House, a majority so large that the party can afford a few defections here and there, or even the loss of a seat in a special election.
Kirsten Gillibrand’s appointment to the Senate has put one of those Democratic seats at risk, and party strategists have to decide how far they’ll go to try to hold it.
Should the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invest substantial resources in that contest, risking making it a referendum on the first months of Barack Obama’s presidency and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) House leadership? Or should the DCCC keep expectations low by doing little more than it has already done for its nominee?
The district starts just outside Poughkeepsie and stretches all the way north along the state’s eastern border up to Lake Placid, and also includes an arm south of Albany that runs west toward Binghamton. It’s a sprawling district by New York standards, the state’s second-largest geographically.
While Republicans hold a voter registration advantage in the district over Democrats, and George W. Bush carried the district 54 percent to 46 percent in 2004, it went for Obama in 2008 by between 3 and 6 points, depending on whose numbers you…