Congressional candidates Tonko, Dieterich debate

Posted at: 10/24/2012 12:20 AM
Updated at: 10/24/2012 9:45 AM
By: Dan Bazile

CLIFTON PARK -- Rep. Paul Tonko and his challenger Bob Dieterich became a bit testy with each other on the subject of campaign finance reform. That was about the only time the two traded verbal punches in the one-hour debate at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park.

"We'll be looking at the rich in this country hiring people to sit in Congress. We need to be a democracy of the many, not the money," Tonko said.

Dieterich fired back and said, "My opponent, you can look it up on opensecrets.org, you can see the special interests that have given him money. We have not received that. I do think that's a big concern."

Dieterich joked that he's the one in the race with the least amount of cash in his coffers.

They continued through the debate with rebuttal after rebuttal.

At one point Tonko said Dieterich wasn't being honest about his contributions from the special interests.

"And Bob I do believe you received money from the banking lobby, which is special interest," Tonko said.

Dieterich said it was only $5,000.

The two men are trying to represent the newly drawn 20th Congressional district, which includes parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Montgomery counties and all of Albany and Schenectady counties.

Tonko is the Democrat who spent his career in public service. Dieterich, the Republican, is a banker. The two also shared their thoughts and vision on health care, energy, foreign policy and the economy. The main difference between them seemed to be the role of government in the economic recovery.

Dieterich said he wants to see a balanced federal budget along with spending and tax cuts. Tonko said while the government should cut wherever possible, America also needs to invest in research and development to help create the jobs of the future.