Above: Video footage of the debate between Joel Tyner and Julian Schreibman, vying for the chance to run on the Democratic ticket for New York's new 19th Congressional District. Tyner and Schreibman will face each other in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 26.
Congressional candidates Julian Schreibman and Joel Tyner, both seeking to run on the Democratic ticket in this November's election for the new 19th Congressional District, held a debate yesterday at the Woodland Pond nursing home in New Paltz.
The Daily Freeman livestreamed the event via video and liveblogging -- though, alas, most of the the blogging consisted of reader gripes about the quality of the video stream. (An argument for better rural broadband, wrote a blogger from local radio station WGXC.)
The Albany Times-Union wrote that as Tyner sought to cast himself as the true progressive in the race for the Democratic nomination, Schreibman was more worried about Republican incumbent Chris Gibson:
Tyner sought to use his consistent support of anti-fracking measures, single payer healthcare, and reviving the Glass-Steagall Act — which prevented banks and stock trading firms from merging — to distinguish himself from Schreibman, who has attracted more money and support from the party establishment.
He criticized Schreibman for being too slow to admit his opposition to fracking and for offering measured solutions to healthcare affordability and corporate greed. Schreibman said his stances are no less firm, but he admitted, Monday, that electability was a key concern.
“We are now running in a brand new swing district with a Republican incumbent” he said. “We have never been in this situation before; the consequences of this election are critical.”
Both candidates have declared opposition to hydrofracking, but Tyner has sought to make a campaign issue out of their differences. In recent weeks, the Tyner campaign has come out swinging at Schreibman in mailings and robocalls, seeking to paint the more moderate Democrat as a waffler on the issue. The Times Herald-Record reported that Tyner took a shot at Schreibman's gas drilling bonafides in the debate as well:
Tyner also said protecting drinking water supplies is a top priority, and criticized Schreibman for less than all-out opposition to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial process of drilling horizontally for natural gas. Schreibman insisted his opposition to fracking is “100 percent.”
The two faced off on the issue of healthcare, too, with Tyner stumping for the creation of a single-payer system, and Schreibman defending the President's healthcare reforms. The Register-Star reports:
Tyner said he supported a single-payer public health care system and criticized Schreibman for not endorsing such a new public health care system.
Schreibman countered that he supported “universal access to health care” and the health care plan passed under the Obama administration.
Schreibman said he would work to change the Medicare prescription drug bill, which prevented the government from negotiating the cost of prescription drugs.
Schreibman pointed out what he perceived to be his differences with Tyner.
"I think the key difference was we spoke about having the campaign that's going to win the general election, and that's what Democratic voters are looking for right now to make sure we don't have continued Tea Party representation in Congress," Schreibman said.
Hugh Reynolds, a political columnist for the Kingston Times, wrote last month that the fracking issue could end up paying off for Tyner in next week's election if Schreibman doesn't watch his step:
Schreibman needs to be careful. In effect, Democrats have a choice between two unknowns for an open seat. Turnout under those conditions will probably range between abysmal and low. With only a handful of Democrats at the polls come June 26, either candidate could win.
Tyner, far savvier than some of his rambling rants might suggest, appreciates the opportunity. If there is a viable Tyner strategy, other than begging for free press all the time, it’s hooking his wagon to the anti-fracking movement. Say what you may about Tyner, a self-proclaimed 99 percenter, he knows enough to push a hot-button issue when he sees one. And nothing is hotter these days than the controversy over hydraulic fracking for natural gas.