Sean Eldridge, a young political upstart who lost the election for New York's 19th Congressional District from Republican Chris Gibson last year, has finally made it public: He won't be running for election again.
That's because Eldridge is one half of a prominent gay power couple. His husband is Chris Hughes, a multi-millionaire who helped Mark Zuckerberg found Facebook.
Right after the election, Eldridge refused to answer questions from the Watershed Post about whether or not he would run again in the 19th District, which covers much of the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
The seat will be wide open in 2016; Gibson has announced that he will not be running for re-election to Congress, which leaves his seat an easy target for possible successors. So far, several local politicians, including Schoharie County State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, have signaled that they are interested.
Eldridge, who spent $4 million of his husband's personal fortune on a lavish campaign, would be well positioned to try again in the 19th District, where he is a recognizable face and name.
But in an interview in the July issue of Vanity Fair, Eldridge says that he's done:
The five months since the end of the campaign had clearly afforded the most time [Eldridge] had had in a while to consider what came next. One thing was clear: “I’m not going to run again,” he said.
The VF story is a schadenfreude-laden profile of both Hughes and Eldridge in the wake of Eldridge's failed campaign and Hughes' controversial purchase of The New Republic.
Its summary of Eldridge's run for Congress in the Catskills is harsh, stating that Eldridge's campaign was "widely mocked" and that Eldridge himself was viewed as a carpetbagger who used Hudson River Ventures, an investment firm he founded that doled out money to local businesses, to buy votes.
Eldridge doesn't explain why he doesn't want to run again, and tells VF that his campaign was a learning experience:
“Look, we didn’t win—we weren’t that close,” Eldridge told me. “Obviously, I wish we’d won and I wish it had been closer. But it’s hard, despite having lost, despite having put a lot of resources in it—it’s hard to regret it because I learned a heck of a lot along the way.” Had the race been a personal strain? Eldridge said, “I highly recommend running for office in the first year of marriage.”
Now that it's official that Eldridge is done with the Catskills, what will happen to his house in the Ulster County hamlet of Shokan, which appears to have been purchased largely to establish residency in the district, and Hudson River Ventures, his local investment firm?