From NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro
Republican Jim Tedisco just conceded to Democrat Scott Murphy in the special congressional in upstate New York that first took place on March 31, giving Democrats their first congressional victory of the Obama presidency and giving Republicans a disappointing loss.
As of the last unofficial count, Murphy had been leading Tedisco by 401 votes in this race to succeed Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who left her congressional seat to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.
While it would be incorrect to read too much into this election -- even though it was fought over national issues, including Obama's stimulus -- there is no doubt that it's a disappointing loss for the Republicans, who enjoyed a significant voter-registration advantage in this district, as well as the fact that Tedisco (the former minority leader of the New York State Assembly) was the better-known candidate at the beginning of the race, and that he was leading in polls until the last week or so.
That said, Obama narrowly won this district in last year's presidential election, and Gillibrand won it in 2006 and 2008. But before Gillibrand's victory in 2006, Republicans had controlled the seat for 28 years.
Democrats are eagerly spinning Murphy's victory as a vindication of Obama's policies. DNC chairman Tim Kaine released this statement: "Scott Murphy's long-awaited victory is proof positive that Americans, even in this heavily Republican district, support the President and want him to succeed and the result is a repudiation of the failed policies of the past touted by Republicans."
Added Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "Scott Murphy's victory in this district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 70,000 represents a rejection of the obstructionist agenda and scare tactics that have become the hallmark of House Republicans."
*** UPDATE *** Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, just released this statement: "After a long, hard-fought race, the final result of the New York special election reinforces what our party has known since November -- we have our work cut out for us when it comes to winning in Democrat-held districts. In defeat, there will always be disappointment, but we should not ignore some of the encouraging signs that came out of this race."
*** UPDATE 2 *** Here's Tedisco's statement: "This was a close campaign every step of the way. Ultimately, it became clear that the numbers were not going our way and that the time had come to step aside and ensure that the next Congressman be seated as quickly as possible. In the interest of the citizens of the 20th Congressional district and our nation, I wish Scott the very best as he works with our new President and Congress to address the tremendous challenges facing our country."
*** UPDATE 3 *** You had to see this one coming... The DNC's up with a brand-new Web video, hitting Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele for upping the stakes in NY-20
*** UPDATE 4 *** And this just in... Steele's response to the loss in NY-20:
Jim Tedisco ran a tough but an ultimately unsuccessful race in a district that has been carried by a long line of Democrat candidates including President Obama, former Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Clinton, Sen. Schumer and former Gov. Spitzer. The Republican Party must be competitive in districts like NY-20 if we are going to regain our Congressional majorities. While we were unsuccessful in this race, the combined efforts of our candidate, the national and state parties and NRCC show that the GOP is going to invest the resources necessary to regain our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.