Indicators of Failure

Joe Dunning's column in the Leader was appropriately tough on Tom Reed's campaign, which has made a number of tactical errors in the past months. But, to his credit, Reed made one strategic decision that trumps most of those errors: he started early. A majority of voters won't be paying close attention to this race until well over a year from now, and by then many of Reed's missteps will be ancient history.

A few dumb comments, or even taking government money as part of his business, won't sink Reed's ship by itself. Far more dangerous is the perception that Reed is taking orders from the DC Republican party. Ultimately, if I had to pick the most important factor in Kuhl's 2008 loss, it was the perception that he was paying more attention to his party bosses than the residents of the 29th district.

It's hard to imagine two individuals more different than Eric Massa and Amo Houghton, but neither of those men took orders from their party bosses. Amo had, and Massa has, a set of votes that differentiate each of the men from the average order-taking backbench party loyalist. Their war votes -- Amo's against the Iraq War, and Massa's against the Afghanistan War -- are just two examples.

Of course, in Amo's case, he was part of a strong tradition of moderate Republicanism that originated in New York and is now gone from the political scene. Unfortunately, Reed can't rely on that tradition to inform his rhetoric. Instead, he, like Randy Kuhl, sounds very like a right-wing radio host.

Perhaps the best example of this kind of rhetoric is the comments that Reed made about the stimulus bill. Here's a mayor -- whose small town is getting millions of dollars in stimulus funding -- calling the stimulus a "slush fund". Here's a resident of a state facing a huge budget shortfall -- one that would have decimated residents of his district -- claiming that the only proper use of stimulus funds is infrastructure projects. And here's a candidate who enlists the loser of the last election to fundraise by dismissing the stimulus as nothing more than "liberal pet projects".

This, not a badly schedule press conference or some intemperate remarks about reading legislation, is what will sink the Reed campaign if it continues.



Keep it coming. The truth will unveil itself soon. The answer is neither Massa, nor Reed.

Do you have another candidate in mind?

Matt Kernan seems like an interesting alternative, although unlikely to win. I've also heard that the Green party is trying to come up with viable candidates for as many races as possible. They're even looking to get a gubernatorial candidate so that the party will be officially recognized here in the State.

In '04, there was a Conservative party candidate. I haven't heard any noises about that recently.

Either a Green or Conservative candidate would be a double-edged sword for the current candidates. On the one hand, they'd allow each to defend the charge of being "too right/left wing". On the other, they'd siphon off votes.

I agree, a third candidate would definitely siphon off votes. I'm not sure who it would hurt more. I'm finding more like-minded people down here in the southern tier and I have been promoting your blog whenever I get a chance. It's still very very early and most people aren't even thinking about next fall's election. I'm watching the local elections too, but I really enjoy watching the big boys. I watch it the way some people watch sports, ha.