Archive (2008)

Super Tuesday Pre-Game

Unless you've been hiding in a cave, you know that the New York State Presidential primary is tomorrow.  I've contributed a guest post to Rochesterturning in support of Barack Obama, and you can view Obama's latest ad after the jump. 

The New York Democratic Party has a special webpage full of information for Democrats.  There doesn't seem to be a similar page for Republicans. 

For those interested in an overview of polls, there's an excellent post at which summarizes the recent history of every poll in every Super Tuesday state in one easy-to-read chart.

With favorite son Rudy Guliani out of the running, Randy Kuhl has officially endorsed John McCain.  Eric Massa is tacitly supporting Senator Hillary Clinton. 

Filthy Lucre

The FEC has updated fundraising summaries for both Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl.  The totals for Political Action Committee (PAC) and individual contributions are essentially mirror opposites for the two candidates.  The majority of Kuhl's money is PAC money, and the majority of Massa's is contributions from individuals.

Since Kuhl continues to rely on corporate donors, it's no surprise that he's having trouble raising funds.  Most observers believe that House Democrats will increase their majority, so giving money to a minority back-bencher is not a great investment in influence buying.   And, as commenter James pointed out, the rumors about Kuhl's retirement are probably going to lead corporate donors to hold off on giving to Kuhl until they're sure he's in the race.  Corporate contributors to James Walsh (NY-25) were burned by his late retirement.  They won't want to make the same mistake twice.

Kuhl isn't the only Republican having trouble fundraising. The Hill newspaper has a detailed analysis listing other Republican incumbents who have fallen behind their opponents in the money race.

Retirement Rumors Hit Home

Randy Kuhl was asked about retirement rumors at a taping of Coleman and Company, WETM's Sunday political talk show.  He repeated his stock answer that he will be deciding whether to run in the next couple of months.

I've read a lot of rumors in the past couple days, but I haven't seen any sourced from Kuhl's staff.  Randy's recent, uninspiring fundraising numbers will probably fuel still more speculation, but I don't think he's going to retire.

Kuhl's seniority, or lack of it, is the first reason that I think he's staying put. Twenty-eight of his Republican colleagues just retired, almost all of whom are more senior than him.  Kuhl's recent appointment as deputy whip indicates that he's interested in leadership, so those retirements give Kuhl a better opportunity to move up.  Randy's a healthy 64. He can reasonably expect at least a decade or more behind the plow.  His prospects for attaining a significant leadership or committee post in that timeframe improve whenever another Republican throws in the towel.

The psychology of seniority for a back-bencher like Kuhl is quite different from a 20-year vet like James Walsh (NY-25).  Walsh and the other retirees know that they're looking at a couple of grim sessions for Republicans.  Democrats will almost certainly strengthen their hold on the House in 2008,  It's likely that they'll increase their majority in the Senate, and they might also occupy the White House.  If you've already tasted the sweet nectar of a senior committee or leadership spot, the prospect of waiting a couple more sessions until you do it again may not be worth the agita of defending your seat.  If you're like a back-bencher like Kuhl, you knew coming in that you were going to have to put in your time, and it really doesn't matter if your party is in the majority or minority while you're reeling in the years.

Finally, there's redistricting.  In 2012, Western New York is going to lose a seat in Congress, and it's likely that the new district lines will carve out only one "safe Republican" seat.  There's no doubt that, if such a seat exists, it will include the Southern Tier.  If Kuhl can hold off Massa's challenge and survive until then, he might end up with a safer seat than he has today.

Kuhl's retirement is great fodder for speculation, but a reality check shows that he's got plenty of reasons to go down fighting.

Two Indicators of a Bad Economy

Two stories in the last couple of days show that the economy of the 29th district is steadily moving from one based on well-paid, skilled manufacturing jobs to a lower-paid, less-skilled, service economy.

In Rochester, the Democrat and Chronicle reports that Kodak, once the engine of the Rochester economy and number one employer, has falled to number three.  Wegmans, the local grocery chain, moved from third to second on the D&C's ranking.  The University of Rochester, which runs Strong Hospital, is number one. 

Elmira's WETM reports on Governor Spitzer's appearance in Erwin, where he cut the ribbon at a remodeled Corning plant.  The new occupant, Sitel, plans to hire 400 $8/hour callers for its call center there.

This kind of economic news is another reminder that news of recession is nothing new to the residents of the 29th.  The economy here has been shrinking for decades.