Why This Race Will Be Interesting

We're going to learn a lot about Tom Reed in the next few weeks and months. Reed finds himself in much the same spot as Eric Massa did in 2005. He's unknown in most of the district, never held a legislative position, and he doesn't have a lot of money. How Reed introduces himself will tell us a lot about the kind of candidate he is, and whether he has a chance to beat Eric Massa.

My main interest is whether Reed will be a New York Republican or a rump Republican. In other words, does he have the independence to craft his own message? If he has the originality and ability to be a new kind of Republican, this might be an interesting election. Otherwise, Reed's run will probably be over very soon.

Reed's first challenge will be to articulate clear positions on the issues of the day that are acceptable to a majority of voters. With a hard core of Southern conservatives in control of the Republican party, Northeast Republicans are constantly torn between the dictates of their party and what voters will accept. Jim Tedisco's surprising defeat in NY-20 is a good object lesson of how this bind can't be finessed. Tedisco was caught between the rock of Republican opposition to the stimulus bill, and the hard place of the electorate's desire for such a bill. Tedisco's early hemming and hawing on how he would have voted probably cost him a squeaker election.

Reed's second challenge will be avoiding the tar pit of House Republican political incompetence. A big factor in Randy Kuhl's loss was his reliance on Republican advisors who gave him some terrible advice. Kuhl ducked debates, canceled town hall meetings, and doubled down on party loyalty when when more availability and a few votes against his party would have gone a long way. Kuhl also parroted John Boehner's talking points about the evil of a Pelosi-led Congress, which is procedural inside baseball that's irrelevant to most voters.

Reed will also have to come up with a positive alternative to Massa's positions. Republican attempts to provide an alternative have been almost comically ineffective, with meaningless charts, flowcharts and "budgets" without numbers. It's easy to treat every day like "opposite day" by putting out press releases that negate Democrats' talking points. Reed needs to do something more: tell us what he's for, not just what he's against.

In his first six months, Eric Massa has done quite well. He's on the right committees, he's voting for his district at times when it upsets his leadership, and his service offices are in-place and working well. Reed and the Republicans need to bring their A-game, and I hope they do, because we need hotly contested Congressional races in order to have a functioning democracy.


Who are these 'hard core Southern conservatives that are in control of the Republican party' you refer to? I can't think of anyone, conservative, liberal, or moderate, who's in charge of the GOP at the moment.

Reed is going to have to model himself in the likes of Amo if he stands any chance of winning this race.

Most of the Republicans in the House are from the South, and they're mainly hardcore conservatives. There are very few moderates left. And, as you point out, a moderate like Amo is needed to win this race.

Tom Reed will have to come up with a convincing "elevator speech" as to why we should elect him.

In 2008, Randy Kuhl did not have that speech. Eric Massa's speech may have been better suited for the elevators in the Empire State Building (it was a bit long, but then again damn few politicians can be brief), but he could tell you why he should be elected.

It's a simple question, and the voters will demand a simple answer.

Yep. With Massa doing a pretty good job, Reed needs to find a compelling reason to get elected.

Why did they go with Reed? I expected to see Maggie Brooks, Cathy Young, George Winner, Bill Nojay, Brian Kolb, etc. They all have better name i.d. and can likely raise more money than Reed, who no one knows and didn't seem to have much of a message when he announced on Wednesday. All I can think of about Reed is he's from Corning, which is geographically in the center of the district. On the other hand it has a total pop. of about 12,000 so I must be missing something.

Center of the District? Where are you from? - Washington? China? Mars?

Because of re-districting, which will probably be in control of Democrats and lead to a squeeze out of any Republican Members of Congress, the big players stayed out. Nojay is a talk show host and while he might have better name id, it's hard to see him as a serious candidate. He's a talker, not a do-er.

If you're going to have an unknown, better from the Southern Tier than Rochester, because people in the Tier want someone who will represent their interests, which are quite different from those of Rochester.

Young Mr. Reed can't lose, in a figurative sense. He got good reviews for his admittedly brief (one term) stint as mayor of Corning. The local Assembly and most if not all of the State Senate district in which Corning is situated falls within the 29th. He will raise his name ID, build a volunteer corps, identify funders and, in event he doesn't make it to D.C. this time, with his law degree he could be a candidate for any level 0f judgeships or to succeed some of the
"aging" Assemblymen/State Senators down that way. This will be a good race.

I agree - it's good for him in a way that it's not for Winner or the other established politicians.