Paul Tonko

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Paul Tonko
Paultonko.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Chris Gibson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 21st district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Michael R. McNulty
Succeeded by Bill Owens
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 105th district
In office
April 1983 – June 2007
Preceded by Gail Shaffer
Succeeded by George Amedore
Personal details
Born (1949-06-18) June 18, 1949 (age 65)
Amsterdam, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Single
Residence Amsterdam, New York
Alma mater Clarkson University
Profession Engineer
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Congressional Campaign Website

Paul David Tonko (born June 18, 1949) is the U.S. Representative for New York's 20th congressional district, a post he has held since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 21st for his first two terms, is located in the heart of the Capital District and includes Albany, Schenectady and Troy. Tonko previously represented the 105th District in the New York Assembly from 1983 to 2007.

Tonko was president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, from 2007 until his resignation on April 25, 2008,[1] in which he declared his candidacy for Congress shortly after.

Early life, education, and early career

Tonko is a lifelong resident of Amsterdam, New York, near Schenectady. He holds a degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from Clarkson University.

Tonko was a member, and subsequently Chair, of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. He also worked for a brief time as an engineer for the New York State Department of Public Service.

New York Assembly (1983-2007)

He represented the 105th District, which comprises Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Princetown, Mohawk, Glen and part of Schenectady.[2]

Elections

Incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Gail Shaffer resigned from her seat to become the New York Secretary of State.[3] Tonko ran for the seat in an April 1983 special election against Republican Eugene Hallock, and won with 54% of the vote.[2][4] He won re-election 15 more times. He never won re-election with less than 62% of the vote.[5]

Tenure

Tonko was also the major advocate of "Timothy's Law" to require health insurers to cover mental illness.[6]

Assemblyman Tonko was a chief sponsor of the Northeast Dairy Compact,[7] the Chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources,[8] and was appointed by Speaker Sheldon Silver to serve as Commissioner for the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission.[citation needed]

Tonko vacated his seat on June 29, 2007 to become the President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, otherwise known as NYSERDA.

Committee assignments

While in the Assembly, Tonko served as the Chairman of the Energy Committee, a position he held from 1992 until retirement. Tonko was also a member of standing committees on Agriculture, Transportation and Education, where he was the original sponsor and a chief proponent of the College Tuition Savings Program that was signed into law in 1997.[9]

CEO of NYSERDA (2007-2008)

Tonko was President and CEO of NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) from 2007 to 2008, when he resigned to run for U.S. Representative.

U.S. House of Representatives (2008-present)

Elections

2008

Tonko entered the 2008 Democratic Primary for New York State's 21st Congressional District after 10-term incumbent Michael McNulty (with whom he served in the State Assembly from 1983 to 1989) decided to retire.[10] Despite having less money than both his main rivals, Tonko won the primary on September 9, 2008 with a plurality of 40% of the vote.[11][12] He ran against Republican James Buhrmaster, a Schenectady County legislator, in the general election.[12]

Democrats outnumber Republicans in registration in the district by a count of 174,054 to 119,493, with 101,219 not enrolled in any party and a total of 428,655 Voters Registered as of March 1, 2008. As such, it was generally believed Tonko had assured himself of a seat in Congress with his victory in the primary.

On November 4, 2008, Tonko won in a landslide, with over 60% of the total vote.[13] "Tonko's name recognition ... accomplishment in the Legislature, such as the passage of mental health parity legislation, and his record" contributed to his win.[13] According to preliminary figures the day after the election, he beat Burhmaster by 105,313 to 57,086, with Philip Steck, a minor party candidate, receiving 5,025 votes.[13]

2010

In 2010, Tonko ran for re-election on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party lines. He was challenged by Republican and Conservative Party nominee Ted Danz, a former United States Navy Reservist and small business owner in the cooling and heating business. Congressional Quarterly rated the race as "Safe" for the incumbent party to keep the seat.[14] Tonko raised almost $980,000, and spent almost $780,000 on his campaign; Danz raised about $44,000 and spent about $42,000 for his own campaign.[15][16] The seat was rated by The New York Times as being "Solid Democratic" with "99.8 %" to "100 % chance" that Tonko would win the seat.[16] The major issues in the 2010 race were Tonko's "yes" votes for the Health Care Bill, the Stimulus Package (ARRA), and the Energy Bill.[16] The Albany Times Union endorsed Tonko in that race, citing "a way of thinking and speaking like the engineer that he once was" and his support of the economic stimulus bill and health care bills.[17]

Tonko won the general election on November 2, 2010, by a vote of 124,889 to 85,752.[18]

2012

Tonko was challenged by Republican Bob Dieterich, senior vice president at First National Bank of Scotia. Former Tonko opponent Jim Buhrmaster cited Albany, particularly the city, as the biggest challenge for a Republican contender. He added, however: “People are voting more independently, and they’re not registering Republican or Democratic.”[19] Tonko won re-election with about 62% of the vote.

2014

Tonko is being challenged by Jim Fischer in the November 2014 election. The seat is considered a safe hold for the Democrats.

Tenure

Tonko was one of the 19 most liberal house members, according to the National Journal, for 2011.[20]

When he entered Congress, Tonko said he wanted to focus on the issue he said he knows best – energy policy.[21] He sponsored a bill to get $800 million research program in wind energy technologies, which would benefit GE in his district. He also wanted to create a research program to improve the efficiency of gas turbines used in power generation systems that convert heat into energy. In 2010, Tonko got a provision in a House-passed bill, following the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, to prevent future spills and help small businesses in spill research. In 2011, he sponsored an amendment seeking to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon emissions.[22]

He is strongly against expanding the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income earners. Among other key votes, he voted for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010,[23] Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,[24] American Clean Energy and Security Act,[25] and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[26] He voted against the Republicans' budget.[27]

Tonko has contributed blog posts to the Huffington Post, with many sharply criticizing the Republican Party, including their "budget hypocrisy" and the threat they pose to Social Security. He praised the 2011 State of the Union address, saying: “the President set out a bold agenda for our nation, an agenda that will focus on growing our economy, growing jobs, and growing opportunity for the middle class”.[28] On numerous occasions, he has also warned of the threat that would allegedly be posed by the healthcare repeal to small businesses, to young people, and to seniors.[29]

Tonko has also worked to raise awareness about the region's waterways, chiefly the Hudson and Mowhawk rivers, and the effects of recent flooding following Hurricane Irene. Seeking a comprehensive flood mitigation and economic development strategy, Tonko introduced the Hudson-Mohawk Basin Act in 2012.[30]

He was actively involved in floor debates against the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

See also

References

  1. ^ "Tonko resigns from NYSERDA". Albany Business Review. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b New York Red Book (2007–08 ed.). Albany, N.Y.: New York Legal Publishing Corp. p. 965. ISSN 0196-4623. 
  3. ^ Our Campaigns - Candidate - Gail S. Shaffer
  4. ^ Our Campaigns - NY Assembly 105 Special Race - Apr 12, 1983
  5. ^ Our Campaigns - Candidate - Paul D. Tonko
  6. ^ "Senate Passes "Timothy's Law" to Provide Mental Health Parity" (Press release). The Senate Republican Majority. September 15, 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  7. ^ Lamendola, Michael (November 5, 2008). "Tonko wins to succeed McNulty". The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, New York). Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Tonko speaking at SUNY Cobleskill". The Daily Star (Oneonta, New York). May 18, 2007. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  9. ^ Eaton, Leslie (December 6, 1998). "New Yorkers Rush to Invest In College Plan". New York Times (New York, New York). Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  10. ^ New York State Board of Elections website list of candidates. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  11. ^ Our Campaigns - NY District 21 - D Primary Race - Sep 09, 2008
  12. ^ a b Lauren Stanforth, "It's Tonko in 21st: Democrat will face Buhrmaster," September 10, 2008, found at Times Union website
  13. ^ a b c Standforth, Lauren, and Carol Demare, "Tonko cruises to win in 21st Congressional District: Democrat goes to D.C. with handy win over Buhrmaster", November 5, 2008, found at Election coverage. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
  14. ^ Race ranking and details from CQ Politics. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Campaign contributions from OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c Race profile at The New York Times. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  17. ^ Editorial, "Paul Tonko for Congress," Albany Times Union , October 27, 2010. Found at Times Union.com. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  18. ^ New York State Board of elections official returns for November 2, 2010. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  19. ^ "Paul Tonko gains a challenger". Times Union. 6 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Most Liberal House Members -- PICTURES". National Journal. February 23, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Rep. Paul Tonko (D)". The National Journal. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll638.xml
  24. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll165.xml
  25. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll477.xml
  26. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll046.xml
  27. ^ "GOP 2012 Budget Plan". The Washington Post. 
  28. ^ Tonko, Paul (January 27, 2011). "State of the Union Response". The Huffington Post. 
  29. ^ "Rep. Paul Tonko". The Huffington Post. 
  30. ^ LeBrun, Fred. "Tonko bill casts wide river net". timesunion.com. 

External links

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Gail Shaffer
New York State Assembly, 105th District
1983–2007
Succeeded by
George Amedore
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Michael R. McNulty
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 21st congressional district

2009–present
Succeeded by
Bill Owens
Preceded by
Chris Gibson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Glenn Thompson
R-Pennsylvania
United States Representatives by seniority
258th
Succeeded by
Michael Quigley
D-Illinois