Mustard Street's Call to Arms

Conservative blogger Philbrick at Mustard Street posts his first salvo in the campaign to unseat Eric Massa. Philbrick calls on his fellow conservatives to attend Massa's public meetings, ask questions and post videos. He thinks the result will be disaster for Massa:

Anyone who's interacted with Massa in unscripted circumstances is aware of the limitations of intellect and social personality skills that set up Massa nicely for public embarrassment.

In this statement, Philbrick commits the same error that lost Randy Kuhl the election: believing the caricature of Massa that Republicans tried to make stick for the last two elections.

Contrary to what you read in comments by some Republicans here and elsewhere, Massa is neither dumb nor socially retarded. I've spent hours listening to him answer questions from the press, and I've asked him a few tough ones myself. I've heard a few dumb things come out of his mouth, but not many. He's no Joe Biden.

Unlike a lot of politicians, Massa writes his own script and stays on it. Republicans might not like the script, but they shouldn't believe Massa lacks intelligence.

That said, Massa's definitely an acquired taste. The way I put it is that his volume knob is always at 11. Judging from election results, it appears that a number of Republicans actually like the guy. The Republican Massa voters I've heard from all pointed to his personality as one of the reasons they voted for him. They felt that he would be an independent voice and a "good fighter" (exact quote).

In four years of almost constant campaigning in the Southern Tier, Massa answered a lot of tough questions from Republicans. From what I've seen, he enjoys it. A few questions at town meetings aren't going to derail Massa's election.

What's going to stop Massa in two years is a good Republican candidate who can raise money and articulate a positive agenda that addresses real issues. He or she will have to be accepted in the Southern Tier and the Rochester suburbs. This candidate will need to spend a lot of time working the district.

Does such a Republican exist? I challenge Mustard Street and the other conservative bloggers in the area to name one person who has the talent and the grit to unseat Massa.


If Massa ends up being who he says he is, I predict that he will carry Steuben County in 2010.

That's a pretty bold prediction.

I'll go this far: He's going to have to screw up in some substantial way (bad votes, scandal), and the Republicans are going to have to find a new candidate, for him to be defeated in '10.

Being an active and engaged incumbent pulls a lot of weight in the southern tier. In a district that included Steuben County, the Democrat mayor of Jamestown was elected as our representative about 5 times.

Assemblyman Brian Kolb of Canandaguia, who Randy smoked out---with the help of George Pataki, I believe--four years ago.

Tom O'Mara of Chemung.

Steuben County Legislature Chair Phil Roche.

And how about, for lack of better description--sorry--"the clean-cut Italian conservative fellow" (from Gates? Penfield?) who ran against Randy in the primary four years ago?

AND---that young hotshot Mayor of Corning, Tom Reed.

The BEST WAY Eric can assure himself of continued service is to offer PROMPT and RELIABLE and THOROUGH constituent services. THAT is where Randy has been so exceptional and set the bar!

I agree that constituent services are important.

Assini is the guy you're talking about. He's conservative but he'd have to want to spend a lot of time in the Southern Tier getting voters interested in his candidacy.

Any of those Southern Tier personalities would have to spend a lot of time in Monroe to get their name recognition up. Rochester media has almost zero coverage of Southern Tier politics.

Or Cathy Young, state senator from Catt and Allegany.

Massa is a loose cannon. We'll see!

She seems like a good potential candidate, but I wonder if she wants to take the risk of losing her seat to go up against Massa.

Maggie Brooks up north would certainly be a strong candidate. No question she could raise the necessary money. She would just need to spend some time in Southern Tier to get to know people. But I believe she would do well there.

Certainly Senator George Winner (Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates) would certainly be a strong candidate. He is more moderate than Kuhl on some issues. He might not be well known up north, but he did get some publicity up that way as the Chairman of Senate Investigations Committee probing Spitzer role in Troopergate

As for either of them (Sen. Young or Sen. Winner) risking their seats, not being in the Senate majority anymore would certainly make a decision much easier.

Steuben County will not go Massa next time. Although I must admit, I was shocked by how well Massa did there or vice versa that Kuhl did not do much better.

I will be interested to see if Winner or Young is willing to trade a sure thing (minority seat in the Senate) for a big risk (minority seat in the House if they beat Massa).

Good point. But it is Congress, higher profile. What are your thoughts on Maggie Brooks? Think she could make up the ground in Southern Tier. She would certainly have no problem in Monroe.

Maggie is a decent politician, and she can definitely raise money. I believe she's from Irondequoit, which is outside the district, so she'd have to move to be a district resident.

Consider this: in 2004, weak Southern Tier Democrat Sam Barend took Monroe by 9 points. Granted, there was a Monroe Conservative, Assini, who took some votes away from Kuhl. But Monroe is Democratic, and even Maggie wouldn't be automatic here.

You also have to take re-districting into account. WNY is going to lose one or two seats in Congress. I'm guessing Monroe will not be part of the 29th after re-districting. We may see a wait-and-see attitude by candidates in the Northern 29th who don't want to be one-term Reps hit by re-districting.

Well, if Massa proves astute in constituent relations, and just keeps up his energizer bunny way of activity, this young man can be of service to the entire district--and yes, carry what will be his 'hometown county' of Steuben--for many years to come. Kathy Young does sound good, too.

I don't think anyone from Monroe County will do well in the district. There will be animosity from the southern part of the district towards someone like Maggie Brooks.

Maggie is really a Greece-Chili-Gates type. She's too big city for the Tier and too west-side trashy for Brighton. I don't think she'd be strong at all. George Winner would be the logical person to run against Massa next time.

There is one other thing: I'm not convinced that the district is all that conservative. People in NY-29 are used to voting Republican but I also think they'd like better health care and don't believe that "drill baby drill" will fix all our problems or that bombing Iran is a good idea. I think Massa probably better represents the district's values than Kuhl.

I agree that the district is not conservative by the new definition of "conservative" that has taken over the Republican party.

As long as the person from Monroe County understands the rural part of the district, they would have a chance. Kuhl understood that, too bad he became a sellout to Bush's policies and went from conservative to neo-con. I voted for Massa and told Mr. Kuhl I was going to because he voted for the Wallstreet Bailout in his blog (which he never posted, BTW). Though things like his vote for the Patriot Act turned me against him also. I think Massa would have voted for it also, since he supports the DHS.

Being conservative, by the original, true sense does not mean "drill baby drill," or bombing Iran. I am against the current war in Iraq and I am against going into Iran. I am a conservative and I am ashamed of these neo-cons. Their conservatism is tax breaks for big corporations and not the general populace and paying for CEO pensions. The liberal Democrats are no better.

The best way to get better health care is to not let big drug companies buy off doctors. Getting rid of HMOs would be a start to making it more affordable also. If those 2 things happen, then we have something.

I do not agree with all of Massa's ideas, but he is more conservative than Kuhl. So yes he does represent this district's values more. I just hope Massa does not become a sellout to the likes of Pelosi, Schumer and Clinton.

Being conservative, by the original, true sense does not mean "drill baby drill," or bombing Iran. I am against the current war in Iraq and I am against going into Iran. I am a conservative and I am ashamed of these neo-cons.

By that definition of conservative, I agree that it's a conservative district. And I agree that your definition is much closer to the traditional definition than the one I was using.

I have a lot of sympathy for traditional conservatives now that Bushism is how many define conservatism. It isn't fair, I agree.