Debates and Money

The Messenger-Post's latest editorial says that the "ball is in Kuhl's court" on debates between the two candidates.  Kuhl's reasons for waiting to schedule debates are his need to gather petition signatures and the possibility of having a primary opponent.

The real reason, which is true in almost every campaign, is that the incumbent has more to lose than the challenger in debates.  Debates also allow the voters to see the challenger and incumbent at the same level, and take some of the sheen of inevitability from the incumbent.

So, I don't blame Kuhl for waiting to schedule debates, and I understand why Massa is pushing hard to get him to commit to them. 

What I don't understand is how Kuhl's impoverished campaign is going to get its message out.  Part of the reason Kuhl won in 2006 was a last-minute blitz of TV ads in the Rochester market.   It doesn't look like he's going to be able to afford that this year.  Direct mail is also expensive.  And even the Internet costs money -- Randy doesn't even have his campaign website up yet.

Unlike expensive for-pay media, debates only cost the gas money, and they're usually well-covered by the press.  For that reason alone, I'm wondering if we'll see the Kuhl campaign decide to attend a few more this time around.


Perceptive post. I never thought of the connection between campaign money and debates in this light before. Kuhl isn't that bad of a debater. He lost the debates in 06 but not nearly as badly as Walsh did.

One of the interesting dynamics in this campaign will be Kuhl using media like an underdog, and Massa having money to actually run his campaign.

That said, Massa is still a long way from a dominating money lead. His goal is $3M - I don't see that coming at the current pace.