Congressman Chris Gibson is spending his August recess talking to constituents and preparing for what could be a tough race next year. But as Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Michael Scotto explains in part three of his series, Fight for the House, Gibson has been pre-occupied by an issue far from home.
NEW YORK STATE -- As Chris Gibson visits his constituents this August, the Republican Congressman is distracted by the turmoil in Syria.
"I oppose military intervention in Syria. But most certainly, before the administration moves forward, there should be a vote," Gibson said.
The Army veteran told us that earlier this month, before the emergence of new reports indicating the Assad regime used chemical weapons on rebel groups. On Wednesday, Gibson reiterated his opposition to bombing Syria, penning a letter with other lawmakers calling on the President to get Congressional approval before taking any action.
This month, Syria is at the top of Gibson's agenda, along with enacting the stalled Farm Bill. On immigration reform, another big issue facing Washington, Gibson wants the House to work slowly, in a piecemeal way. He won't clearly say how he thinks lawmakers should handle the undocumented immigrants already living here.
Gibson said, "As part of a long term solution, you have to address the situation of who is here now. But I can tell you that constituents want consequences, too. They don't want to see anyone that didn't follow the law get in front of anybody who's been here for a long time."
Gibson's role as a swing vote in a swing district has made him a target of special interest groups that have held protests, some quite small, in his district this August.
It's a preview of 2014.
Next year, this picturesque district could be the site of one of the nastiest races in the state. Gibson's likely Democratic challenger hasn't even declared yet and already, national Republicans are on the attack.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a website and a video labeling Gibson's potential opponent, Sean Eldridge, as rich, out of touch and too close to Nancy Pelosi. Eldridge declined to do an on-camera interview with us.
Gibson, at least publicly, is leaving the dirty work to others.
"I'm focused on serving," he said.
That will likely change next year.