SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Saratoga Springs to campaign with U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy the day before the election, the Murphy campaign announced Saturday.
"We're just real excited to have President Clinton here because he really knows what it takes to get an economy moving. ... You know he presided over an incredibly strong booming time for our economy where we had balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility at the federal level," Murphy, D-Glens Falls, said in a telephone interview.
Details such as the time and exact location of the Nov. 1 event were still being worked out on Saturday, and would be announced in a few days, said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Murphy campaign.
The announcement comes as leading political analysts say the race between Murphy and Republican challenger Chris Gibson is tightening.
FiveThirtyEight, a political forecast produced in conjunction with The New York Times, projected Murphy with a 58.2 percent chance of winning the race and Gibson with a 41.8 percent chance, as of Friday.
Murphy's odds, down from 80.1 percent on Oct. 1, was the lowest of the campaign cycle so far.
Cook Political Report changed its rating of the 20th Congressional District race on Wednesday from "Leans Democratic" to "Toss Up."
Two other political publications, CQ Politics and Real Clear Politics, also had the race rated as "Toss Up," as of Saturday.
It is obvious by the intensity of the ads that the race is tightening, said state Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, who has been campaigning with Gibson, a retired Army colonel from Kinderhook, in Columbia County.
Jordan said Gibson has been generating enthusiasm as he meets voters around the district.
"And I think it makes people feel like there's something worthy of backing, and perhaps that's something that has been missing in the past six or eight years in the 20th," he said.
Murphy acknowledged that the race is looking close.
"We knew that this is going to be a tight race. We've always known that," he said Saturday.
"It was 726 votes last time," he said, referring to when he narrowly won the seat in a March 2009 special election to fill the vacancy left when former U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
Gibson campaign spokesman Dan Odescalchi said Gibson has an enthusiastic base of support.
"By contrast, Scott Murphy lacks the level of enthusiasm among the voters and is therefore bringing in help," he said.
Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman said that someone of Clinton's caliber would not be coming to campaign if the race did not look close, but he is confident that Murphy's experience as a businessman is resonating with voters.
"The only way we're able to convince some people to come is if they feel the races are tight," Bulman said.
Clinton is a great choice for the party to send in, Bulman suggested, because the former president is associated with good economic times and general optimism.
"And he has such a great message and people like to hear from him," he said.
Skidmore College political science professor Robert Turner said Clinton's visit likely would energize Murphy's Democratic base, but may not win over many independent voters.
"Murphy must be viewed as part of this Democratic firewall of the incumbents who can still win but might potentially lose, as opposed to some of these other seats where they are sort of viewing them as ‘All is lost,' " Turner said.
"The other thing I think that's really striking is that you have a former president rather than the current president campaigning on behalf of the candidate," he said. "I think it's interesting that a president who at one point was viewed as his legacy was going to be one of disgrace is now one of the Democratic party's best draws and is particularly popular in a potential swing district like this one as a reminder of sort of the good economic times that a Democratic president once brought."
Clinton, in the 2006 election, campaigned twice - first at Albany International Airport and a few weeks later at Warren County airport in Queensbury the day before the election - with Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, who defeated incumbent Republican John Sweeney of Clifton Park that year.
Saratoga County Republican Chairman John "Jasper" Nolan said that Gibson is a strong enough candidate to campaign on his own without bringing in a political celebrity.
"He has no chip on his shoulder - a real, sincere young American trying to run for his country," Nolan said. "He was up with 20 people in Hadley the other day, and one of the young ladies said, ‘I want him to run for president.' "
Campaign donations also are flowing in to the candidates as the race tightens.
Murphy reported the Federal Election Commission that he raised $56,700 in new contributions of $1,000 or more on Thursday and Friday, including $5,000 from United Steelworkers Political Action Fund and $5,000 from Communications Workers of America.
Gibson reported raising $28,300 in new contributions of $1,000 on Thursday and Friday, including $5,000 from SarahPac, the political action committee of Sarah Palin.
The campaign is in the period when candidates must report contributions of $1,000 or more within 48 hours of receiving them.