Archive (2008)

Leader Energy Story

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader front-page [pdf] story (jump [pdf]), which contains Kuhl's reaction to a DCCC press release about energy.

The DCCC claims that Kuhl is a friend of big oil, and uses two facts to back that up. First, it claims that Kuhl has received $29,600 from oil companies. Second, it claims that Kuhl voted against a bill that would end taxpayer subsidies for big oil.

Kuhl questioned the accuracy of the first charge, but according to OpenSecrets, he received $29K from energy and natural resource companies in the 2006 cycle. In the current cycle, he's received a tenth of that, but the real arm-twisting hasn't started yet.

The vote that the DCCC is talking about happened this Spring, on the Energy Bill. The summary from non-partisan Project Vote Smart, includes this:

-Prevents tax deductions to major integrated oil companies for income resulting from the domestic production of oil and gas (Sec. 301).

Kuhl also supports a cut in the gas tax and drilling in ANWR, both of which aren't solutions, as I've discussed earlier.

Kuhl's Safe Housing Vote (In Pictures)

Randy Kuhl's vote against the Housing Bill yesterday will not become a campaign issue in the 29th. The main provision of the bill would let the FHA re-insure underwater mortgages if the mortgage holder (bank) agrees to reduce the principal to 85% of the current home value.

In other words, in return for taking a loss, the bank gets the mortgage off their books. Since the homeowner must re-qualify for the loan, this program also weeds out borrowers who can't pay the new mortgage.

The reason this bill won't be an issue in the 29th is that we don't have many underwater borrowers. Take a look at this graph:


As you can see, the 29th had a small increase in house pricing. The sunbelt states and urban growth areas, where speculation was widespread, are where the prices are falling. The 29th is also doing fairly well in mortgage delinquency:


We seem to be able to pay our mortgages in the 29th, at least when compared to boom areas.

Whether Kuhl's vote was the right thing to do is worth debating, but, politically, I don't see a downside in his decision to stick with the rest of his party and vote against the bill.

(Graphs from the Federal Reserve via the excellent Calculated Risk blog.)

Public Service Announcement

If you're reading this article about Bush's threatened veto of the Housing Bill, and then you see this press release from Randy Kuhl, don't be confused. Kuhl is co-sponsoring a housing bill, but it isn't the housing bill that Bush wants to veto.

That latter bill's author, Barney Frank, believes that he'll get significant Republican support. My guess is that support won't include Rep. Kuhl, because co-sponsoring an alternative bill that has no chance of passage is usually an attempt at inoculation. Kuhl can say that he supported a better alternative, even if that alternative was introduced a short time ago and has no chance of passage.

Update: Kuhl voted against the bill in three key votes today (here, here and here).

Massa Press Conference

Grievous Angel at Rochesterturning has today's Massa Press Conference. Topics included the relationship between the Iraq War and our current economic woes, the price of gas, and health care.


Democrat Don Cazayoux won a close special election last night in heavily Republican LA-06. In contrast to the MS-01 race which I bemoaned earlier, the DCCC spend heavily and well in LA-06, including significant late expenditures on get-out-the-vote organizing, which is critical in special elections.

Spending's important, but what's more interesting to me about this race, which occurred in a district redder than the 29th, is that Cazayoux won on the issues, and the Republican campaign of Woody Jenkins lost on the same old NRCC playbook that seems to be wearing thin with voters.

The NRCC, which also spent heavily, ran a couple of ads tying Cazayoux to the "Obama-Pelosi team". These ads also claimed that Cazayoux would raise taxes. An independent organization called "Freedom's Watch" also ran attack ads, including this gem, which highlighted Cazayoux's vote against a bill that would put "In God We Trust" on the wall in schools. That ad was pulled by a local station because it also claimed, falsely, that Cazayoux wanted to extend health benefits to illegal aliens.

Cazayoux's ads, which can be viewed here, were about healthcare and middle-class tax cuts. His issue page leads with education, and he also supports withdrawal from Iraq.

Cazayoux is the second Democrat to win a special election this year in a heavily Republican district. In March, ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert's old seat (IL-14) fell to Democrat Bill Foster, who ran mainly on Iraq (his ads are here). The number-one issue on his opponent Jim Oberweis' issue page is illegal immigration, and Oberweis' harsh immigration ads in an earlier campaign were apparently based on false data. The DCCC also spent heavily on this race.

It's easy to make too much from a sample size of two, but if I were the Kuhl campaign, I'd be wondering about running the NRCC playbook this fall. Saying a Democrat will raise taxes, that he'll allow a horde of immigrants to cross the border, and trying to link him to supposedly toxic figures like Pelosi and Obama didn't work in two recent elections. And Republican voters are electing Democrats who say they'll end the war in Iraq and do something about healthcare. When you're on the wrong side of too many issues, the usual distractions won't work. Perhaps its time for Republicans to start talking about their positive agenda, if they have one.

Howard Dean is Coming to Town

Democratic party chair Howard Dean will be in Rochester May 15 for the Monroe County designating convention.  He'll also participate in a fundraiser for Eric Massa earlier that day.

D&C Circulation

The Democrat and Chronicle's circulation numbers are out, and it's a good news/bad news story.

The good news, via reader Elmer, is that, by one calculation, the D&C's combined online and print "reach" is 86% of the Rochester market, one of the higher numbers for mid-size markets.

The bad news, via Gannettblog, is that the D&C's print circulation is down another 5.1%.

The reach numbers are interesting, but as always the question is whether the D&C can replace lost print advertising revenue with online revenue.

New Massa Ad

The Massa Campaign has released a new YouTube ad about the Iraq War to commemorate the anniversary of "Mission Accomplished". The ad is interesting because it hits both the real cost and the opportunity cost of the war, two issues which will no doubt be on center stage during the campaign this fall.