Bil Browning

Someone Else Is Off the Christmas Card List

Filed By Bil Browning | July 16, 2013 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Chris Hughes, Congressional race, Facebook co-founder, New York Times profile, Sean Eldridge

Sean_Eldridge.jpgNew York Times writer Raymond Hernandez shouldn't expect a Christmas card from former Freedom To Marry staffer and aspiring politician Sean Eldridge and his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Welcome to the club, Raymond.

Hernandez has written a scathing piece about Eldridge's goal of running for Congress in upstate New York. He paints a picture of a district-shopping millionaire who's throwing money around to try and buy the constituents' love. In fact, the title is: "Young, Rich and Relocating Yet Again in Hunt for Political Office." It doesn't get more direct than that; no burying the lede there.

Two years ago, Sean Eldridge and his husband, the Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, bought a $5 million estate in Garrison, about 50 miles north of New York City. It offered 80 acres of rolling fields and a farmhouse once owned by a Vanderbilt. It would also allow Mr. Eldridge, 26, to run for the local Congressional seat if he chose to.

But that seat appeared unattainable, and soon the couple's gaze shifted north, to the neighboring district on the other side of the Hudson River. In January, they bought a $2 million modern home here overlooking a reservoir, laying the groundwork for Mr. Eldridge's campaign for their new local Congressional seat, New York's 19th.
Amy Shields, a mother of three children who lives a few miles from Mr. Eldridge, cannot get over the fact that he has just moved into town and is already planning a run for Congress.

"It's a little bit presumptuous," Ms. Shields said. "In a community like this you like to know who your neighbors are. Having ties to your neighbors is important. How can he expect to represent people he doesn't know?"
A few months ago, he quietly moved an investment firm he owns to the small city of Kingston, and, with the help of SKDKnickerbocker, a public relations agency based in Manhattan, has begun directing attention to his interest in making investments in local businesses.

Since late last year, the firm has provided at least $800,000 in loans to businesses in the district, including Bread Alone bakery and Prohibition Distillery.

Eldridge went so far as un-friending me on Facebook after I wrote an article critical of the org's decision to stay out of last year's North Carolina and Maryland marriage equality battles. The group later joined the Maryland fight once it became obvious they had a good chance of winning. I can't imagine how many pokes Hernandez's voodoo doll got over the weekend.

I met Eldridge when he first started working for Freedom To Marry and until he unfriended me, we had a cordial relationship. I like the guy. The bottom line, no matter how catty Hernandez' article, is that he'd make a better Congressman that the Republican currently in office. We may not be Facebook friends, but I'd still vote for him.

UPDATE: I've removed a reference to Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom To Marry. I originally said he also unfriended me, but I was incorrect.

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