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20th District race

Two months away from Election Day, the race for the 20th Congressional District is awash in allegations of slander, a possible lawsuit and disparate poll results.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney has threatened a lawsuit over MoveOn.org commercials, which focus on contributions made to his campaign by defense contractors. The ads call Sweeney another Republican caught red-handed.

Sweeney's campaign, in a prepared statement, said the advertisement is defamatory because it implies Sweeney has engaged in illegal activity.

"I haven't heard anything about it since last week," said Alison Price, communications director for Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, last Thursday. She said Gillibrand still had not seen the ads as of that time and pointed out that the Gillibrand campaign and MoveOn.org are two separate entities.

Meanwhile, new poll results unveiled by the Gillibrand campaign show her trailing Sweeney by only eight points, up from the 19-point deficit a Siena College poll showed late last month.

The Global Strategy Group conducted the most recent poll Aug. 29-31 among 410 voters, with a 4.8 percent margin of error. It showed Sweeney leading 47 percent compared to Gillibrand's 39 percent.

The earlier Siena poll, conducted 10 weeks before Election Day among 628 voters, showed Sweeney with a 53 percent rating compared to 34 percent for Gillibrand, said Steven Greenberg, spokesman for the Siena Research Institute. The poll took place Aug. 21-23 and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Sweeney's camp maintains the Siena poll confirms the race isn't as close as the Gillibrand contends, and calls the Global Strategy Group poll "a farce."

In light of the poll results, Price said the Gillibrand camp chooses to focus on the improvements Gillibrand has made during the course of the campaign.

"I think the poll showed 44 percent name recognition for Kirsten Gillibrand. That's pretty good, considering it was zero percent last year," said Price, adding that she has every confidence Gillibrand will be able to make up the 19-point gap before Election Day.

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