Amo Endorses Reed

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story [pdf] about Amo Houghton endorsing Tom Reed.

This is expected and unsurprising, though perhaps a little early. I wonder if there's an insurgent candidate in the wings who might be emboldened by the example of Doug Hoffman in NY-23.


Perhaps there is but I would doubt that there would be anyone running on the conservative line other than Reed. He appears to have the full support of Tom Cook, Monroe County Conservative Chair, and that carries quite a bit of weight. You never can tell what Michael Long will do but I'd be surprised if he crossed Cook on this one. Plus, although Reed might be positioning himself as a moderate republican he is certainly no Scozzafava so I don't see any reason why Long would feel the need to interfere at this point.

I don't have any inside info - I just was surprised that the Amo endorsement didn't come out next year.

Let's not forget that Reed ran for mayor on a platform of lowering taxes; and 'gasp' he raised the taxes in Corning. Also, Amo has a 95% pro-choice voting record. This endorsement makes Reed look a bit more like Scozzafava than one might admit. There is nothing to indicate that Reed will appeal to true conservative voters. It will be a lesser of the two-evils come this time next year. I for one think there should absolutely be an insurgent candidate. The Republican Chairs and Conservative Chairs jumped the gun and they will probably have to bite the bullet on this one.

If Cook is on board with Reed, where would Conservative party support come from? The Ontario County Con. party has no resources, and I doubt other rural counties have more going for them than Ontario.

Houghton for the bulk of his term was to the right on enough issues that he didn't generate an all-around liberal record the way Scozzafava did, and he just doesn't generate bile in the throats of local conservatives. His endorsement isn't going to generate an insurgency, the only thing that could is a mix of Reed's record and Reed's campaign. As much as Reed hasn't been a model small-government type in Corning, it's still not a fraction as damning as Scozzafava's legislative history and press statements. Scozzafava was as extreme a "RINO" as you'll find outside of an urban area, while Reed is overall quite conventional. We might see a primary opponent (as Kuhl did in '04) but that won't go anywhere (as in '04) with the right-wing establishment so firmly behind Reed already.

One scenario that could arise is if, like in '04, the Conservative party lists a Reed primary opponent and nobody else on primary day. That would lead to a default Conservative alternative on election day even if the primary opponent doesn't campaign, and in turn that would siphon off a non-zero number of votes from Reed. Kuhl won by enough in '04 to survive this, but he wasn't up against a capable incumbent. Reed better make sure he doesn't get left off the Conservative line.

I am certainly not enough of an expert on what makes a RINO to id Scozzafava as an "extreme" RINO, but from what I've read her voting record is no better than Jim Tedisco's, who wasn't called a RINO, and didn't get a Conservative opponent.

On the Amo point, I doubt that his endorsement will bring the conservatives out. But I still don't agree with your assessment of Amo's voting record. He was a Rockefeller Republican. Here's a non-partisan organization that ranked him as a "centrist".

Centrist = RINO, right?

Centrist = centrist, let's not make this a strawman "every conservative demands 100% obedience" situation. A "RINO" is someone who regularly crosses over on big votes, who hypes their indecision and dissents to get attention, and who as a result reflects badly on the party. The kind of person who could switch parties with no problem, even within the context of their area. For in stance, it would be one thing for Specter to vote and act the way he did if he was being elected out of Mass. and thus had to be center/center-left to be elected. Specter, however, came from a purple state and had no problem making very public breaks on major issues. He wasn't the least bit reliable even after the party put in a lot of effort to get him re-elected.

I've tried to follow the news for a good 20 years now and I honestly can't recall Amo making headlines with his breaks from the party. Maybe part of it is the fact that for certain periods he wasn't representing anything in the Rochester area, and thus wouldn't get covered by the Rochester press. And most of the voting records I've seen had Amo right-of-center for the bulk of his career, albeit not far from center. Amo was no Arlen Specter. If he'd gone for just one more term... that might have triggered a fight.

I'm not really familiar with the Tedisco situation. If that election happened on Tuesday, after the Tea Parties and whatnot, there might have been a Conservative candidate. Early in the year the right didn't have much fight in it.

Perhaps Amo's biggest crossover vote was the Iraq War resolution -- he voted against it. That was mentioned a lot in the Kuhl/Massa 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

The reason that people think "RINO" is shorthand for "less than 100% obedience" is because the objective evidence on Dede Scozzafava belies your description of her. Here's a post from a University of Chicago professor who's studied state legislature voting records:

Scozzafava’s score puts her in the 58th percentile of her party, which makes her slightly more conservative than the average Republican legislator in Albany, so she’s a conservative in her party. For example, she’s more conservative than James Tedisco, who lost a special election to succeed Kirsten Gillenbrand in the 20th District (score: -.22 and in the most liberal fifth of the party). In the legislature as a whole, she’s in the 83rd percentile, which makes her a conservative in Albany in general. Compare her, say, to Republican Thomas Morahan of the 38th Senate District (Rockland County, just across the border from the New Jersey town where I went to high school). He scores a very liberal -0.54, or in the most liberal 2% of his party. No wonder that his party affiliations include the Working Families Party, which is closely associated with organized labor (and ACORN). So she’s no Morahan.

Also, where's the evidence of her Arlen Specter-style waffling and grandstanding that marks her as a RINO? I haven't found it, but it might exist. I assume you have some solid evidence to back up that assertion.

Read my comment at that blog; I disagree strongly that she's any kind of conservative by the standards of upstate or the nation as a whole.

She's not a grandstander like Specter, but she's a cultural liberal AND in favor of the stimulus package AND is in favor of card check AND is friendly with groups like ACORN, and that's just off the top of my head. And she backed Owens and did robocalls for him... come to think of it that was grandstanding in the 1st degree. She offends the sensibilities of both the Christian Coalition wing and the Tea Party wing of the GOP, and again, there are some districts where a Scozzafava is the best that the right can hope for but NY-23 isn't CLOSE to being so left-leaning for that to be the case.

I agree on the general point of upstate vs. downstate, but she was still to the right of Tedisco, who's upstate. (That was my point at the beginning, btw -- she's not an "extreme" liberal as she's been painted).

And by "grandstanding", I'm looking for something in her past, not the last week of the campaign. She was (understandably) pissed about how she was treated near the end, and reacted negatively. That's different from a track record of being a prima donna like Arlen Specter (or, to pick a similar case in the Democratic party, Joe Lieberman).

BTW, on card check: Randy Kuhl, who was generally more conservative than Amo Houghton, was quite sympathetic to unions and was endorsed and financed by unions for his 2004 run. In fact, he only stuck it to unions when they stuck it to him by supporting Massa.

I guess what I see in Scozzafava's treatment that you don't is a new standard of conservatism for Republican nominees for federal office. I think the reason NY used to have a good number of Republicans in Congress was the ability of the Republican party to nominate and support centrists like Amo Houghton and Sherry Boehlert, men who had center-right views but still were able to reach out and get a number of Democrats to vote for them.

2010 will be a great test of this. With the anticipation of a big GOP gain in the house for the first time in over a decade, candidates who stayed out in '06 and '08 will have an incentive to run. That should mean more primaries, which will offer chances to examine how current attitudes are regarding in party and the base. NY alone has 5 seats held by Democrats that should be contestable, I'd be surprised if there aren't at least three primary races.

Also, I agree that Kuhl moved right over his two terms. He had the party's backing and won the primary over a more conservative Assini in 2004, so in theory when he started out he was the sort of moderate you're talking about.

You need to factor redistricting into your equation -- if Albany is Democratic, it's going to be tough out there for Republicans. Districts will be re-drawn to shaft Republican incumbents, and nobody wants to end their career as a one-term Rep.

THAT is for sure!

I suspect that Congressman Houghton's endorsement wasn't expected to tumble i nto the press so early. Didn't someone from "The Leader" pick up the copy from a near-routine letter going out, seeking dollars for Reed? If they hoped to garner plenty of publicity from this, and at an all-important turning point, the chance seems to have been squandered. Almost exactly a year from voting day.

I got a press release from the Reed campaign touting it, so I think it was their plan.