This week, unsurprisingly given the area’s strongly liberal electorate, Cook County (Illinois) Commissioner Mike Quigley defeated GOP nominee Rosanna Pulido, by a 69-to-24 percent difference, and was elected to the Fifth Congressional District seat that Rahm Emanuel vacated to become President Obama’s chief of staff.
But in New York’s Twentieth Congressional District, traditionally a Republican stronghold, things are much less certain in the contest between Democrat businessman Scott Murphy and Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco for the House seat Kirsten Gillibrand left vacant when Governor David Paterson appointed her to the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Pre-election polls showed Murphy in a virtual tie with Tedisco; the Democrat led his opponent by a few dozen votes at the end of election night last week and it now appears certain that the race will be decided by a slow stream of absentee ballots, which at the moment are giving the Republican a lead of just 17 votes.

At times like this, each side watches the other for anything out of the ordinary. So when reports circulated at liberal blogs such as that Republican political strategist Roger Stone had been seen in the Tedisco headquarters in Clifton Park, NY this week, the situation automatically moved out of the ordinary. And when one of thealbanyproject’s sources produced a photo of Stone taken during a visit to an Italian restaurant in the same town, gossip went into overdrive.

Tedisco’s staff insists that Stone has no connection to the campaign, and the man himself told Elizabeth Benjamin of the New York Daily News that, after visiting family in his native Westchester County, he had merely “traveled to the Albany area to see some friends.” (Clifton Park is about a dozen miles from Albany.)

Stone was also reportedly spotted in Troy, NY, so at this point speculation remains rife as to how many friends he could be stopping by to see and where. Here, it seems apropos to link to a Youtube clip that went up last month. Stone is represented at that site by around two dozen clips, mostly interviews from cable channels, but this offers a quick two-minute refresher course in Stonology.  It’s actually about 3 1/2 minutes long, but the opening consists mainly of excerpts from the HBO film Recount, depicting former Secretary of State James Baker (as portrayed by Tom Wilkinson) calling for the cavalry, I mean Stone, to come to Florida just after Election Day 2000, and it takes about 100 seconds for the strains of “Sympathy For The Devil” to be heard and for the eminent social scientist to appear onscreen.

Things worth spotting in the clip include:

1:48 – a photo of Stone meeting RN taken, possibly, during the 1972 campaign when the nascent strategist was involved with the Young Republicans at George Washington University. He has almost shoulder-length hair and wears a shirt that looks as if it might have been bought off-the-rack – and I should emphasize that, first, the photo is in black and white and maybe be deceptive, and, second, that Stone probably still has the receipt for the garment and could disprove this guess.

2:33 – Stone appears wearing a dark jacket and a bow tie, an ensemble which rather incongruously brings Archibald Cox to mind.

3:00 – Stone appears in a sort of tan jacket and bow tie, possibly speaking in Florida.

3:20 – Stone is interviewed wearing wire-rimmed glasses which give him a rather startling resemblance to Ben Stein.

Oh, and at 1:40 and again at the very end of the clip the strategist displays his world-famous Nixon tattoo. No word yet on whether that’s been spotted by nosy liberals anywhere in the Twentieth District.