Debate Analysis

With the announcement of the WHAM debate, it appears that the sticking point for the Kuhl campaign is having a debate audience. Both the WHAM and R-News debates are in-studio debates. TV studios in this area are too small for crowds.

The Kuhl campaign's negotiations with WETM and the Corning Leader broke down over the number of people allowed in the audience. According to WETM, Kuhl wanted a fixed allocation of seating for each candidate, with no "general public" seating. His stated fear was that Massa would "bus in" more supporters to fill the remaining seats.

In 2006, the Leader and WETM sponsored a similar debate, and it went off without a hitch. Why Kuhl would think that these two well-respected news organizations couldn't control the debate in 2008 is beyond my ken. By essentially canceling his town hall meetings, and then avoiding any debate with an audience, Kuhl leaves the impression that a few hecklers cause him to go into hiding.

Kuhl supporters have been commenting on this blog about the unruly nature of two other 2006 debates. That spin is just not supported by the facts. The 2006 Rotary and League of Women Voters debates were relatively calm events, and nothing happened there that shouldn't be expected in a healthy democracy.

Also, those events were far more placid than some floor debates in the House. If Kuhl can't handle the minor irritation of a few excited Massa supporters, is he the guy Republicans want to take on Nancy Pelosi?

As for the politics of disrespecting the best newspaper in the district, the Corning Leader, I agree with this observation made by Exile at The Albany Project:

Losing the Leader's endorsement would be a major blow for Kuhl and I don't see how any paper could endorse a candidate who thumbs his nose at the paper's debate.


I don't see Randy getting the Leader endorsement without being at the Leader's debate.

Don't sell The Leader short. They may be magnanimous and still endorse Randy. Meantime, the big political story next door--in Steuben--is the sheriff's race. It's gonna be a Big Day for Ticket-Splitting since the Conservative party has endorsed, to the shock of the Republican establishment, the fellow who came in something like only 70 votes short for the Republican nomination. And then, the now-Conservative candidate--who also won a spot on the Independent ballot--has teamed up with the third-place finisher in the race, who himself received over 2000 votes--to run as a Sheriff/Undersheriff team in the general. This is going to be something to watch. The guy who squeaked out the GOP nomination has a lot of baggage, they say. The GOP "establishment" is in a tither. Why do we even ELECT law enforcement officers, anyway? What a shame.

Randy is sunk with The Leader if he doesn't accept the debate invitation

I think I'd be selling the Leader short if I thought they'd endorse Kuhl after he wouldn't attend their debate.