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Paul David Tonko (born June 18 1949) is an Americanmarker Democratic politician from Amsterdam, New Yorkmarker, currently serving as the Congressman for . The district is located in the heart of the Capital Districtmarker (which includes Albanymarker, Schenectadymarker and Troymarker).

Tonko previously served in the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007, representing the 105th District in the New York State Assembly. He then became the president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, from 2007 until his resignation on April 25, 2008.

Education and early career

Tonko is a lifelong resident of Amsterdam, New Yorkmarker, near Schenectady. He holds a degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from Clarkson Universitymarker.

Tonko was a member, and subsequently Chair, of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisorsmarker.


Tonko was elected to the New York State Assembly in April 1983 as a Democrat. He represented the 105th District, which comprises Amsterdam in addition to Rotterdammarker, Princetownmarker, Mohawk and Glenmarker, and part of Schenectadymarker.

While in the Assembly, Tonko served as the Chairman of the Energy Committee, a position he held since 1992. Tonko was also a member of standing committees on Agriculture, Transportation and Education, where he was the original sponsor and a chief proponent of the College Tuition Savings Program that was signed into law in 1997. Tonko was also the major advocate of "Timothy's Law" to require health insurers to cover mental illness.

Assemblyman Tonko was a chief sponsor of the Northeast Dairy Compact, the Chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, and was appointed by Speaker Sheldon Silver to serve as Commissioner for the Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission.

Tonko vacated his seat on June 29, 2007, after Gov. Eliot Spitzer tapped Tonko as president of NYSERDA, an authority or public benefit corporation created in 1975 by the New York State Legislature.


Tonko was President and CEO of NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) from 2007 to 2008, when he resigned to run for U.S. Representative.


Tonko entered the 2008 Democratic Primary for New York State's 21st Congressional District after 10-term incumbent Michael McNulty (with whom he served in the State Assembly from 1983 to 1989) retired). Despite having less money than both his main rivals, Tonko won the primary on September 9, 2008. He ran against Republican James Buhrmaster, a Schenectady Countymarker legislator, in the general election.

The 21st is the third most Democratic district in the state outside of the New York Citymarker area and Western New York. Democrats have a large advantage in registration.

As such, it was generally believed Tonko had assured himself of a seat in Congress with his victory in the primary. On November 4, 2008, he won in a landslide, with over 60% of the total vote. "Tonko's name recognition ... accomplishment in the Legislature, such as the passage of mental health parity legislation, and his record" contributed to his win. According to preliminary figures the day after the election, he beat Burhmaster by 105,313 to 57,086, with Philip Steck, a minor party candidate, receiving 5,025 votes.

Committee assignments

See also


  1. New York State Board of Elections website list of candidates. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  2. Lauren Stanforth, "It's Tonko in 21st: Democrat will face Buhrmaster," September 10, 2008, found at Times Union website. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  3. There are 174,054 enrolled Democrats to 119,493 enrolled Republicans and 101,219 not enrolled in any party, with a total of 428,655 Voters Registered as of March 1, 2008, in the district; see New York State Board of Elections website. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
  4. Standforth, Lauren, and Carol Demare, "Tonko cruises to win in 21st Congressional District: Democrat goes to D.C. with handy win over Buhrmaster", November 5, 2008, found at Election coverage. Retrieved November 5, 2008.

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