Archive (2008)

As Good as it Gets

Gannett Corporation, which owns the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Elmira Star-Gazette, announced its second-quarter earnings today. Profits at Gannett are down 36 percent from the same period last year, and Gannett's president offered no indication that things were getting any better.

In today's conference call, Gannett management pointed to Rochester as a bright point in an othwerwise dim picture. Rochester's readership penetration is 70%, which means that 70% of Rochesterians are reading some Gannett publication regularly.

Things are so great here that the publisher of the D&C, Michael Kane, was promoted today to the job of Interstate Group President and Publisher of the Indy Star.

Hard Money

The Messenger-Post's money story gets it about right: this is a close race. I've looked through the Massa and Kuhl fundraising reports, and both reflect tough realities for each candidate.

Massa's hard reality is that his nut is much bigger than Kuhl's. He is running two fully-staffed campaign offices, and his payroll is bigger than Kuhl's. One of the many benefits of incumbency is that Kuhl can have a presence throughout the district without spending a penny. Massa doesn't have that luxury, and he spent $120K more than Kuhl this cycle, mainly on office expenses.

Kuhl's burden is that PACs aren't going to cut it. Last cycle, he got twice as much money from PACs as he did from individuals. This quarter, those numbers were almost even. At this point in 2006, he had almost $100K more in PAC money than he did at the end of June.

Kuhl is almost even with where he was last cycle, and he's had to make up the PAC shortfall by soliciting big-money donors in the district. Though his effort there is impressive, he doesn't seem to be able to match Massa's volume of small-money donors. This quarter, 30% of Massa's donors gave less than $250, versus 15% of Kuhl's. Massa gets a number of contributions via ActBlue, a clearinghouse for Democrats who want to give to a number of different candidates.

Overall, Kuhl is almost exactly where he was in 2006. Massa has raised almost three times what he did in 2006. If the trend continues, Massa will surpass his $3 million goal, which is double what Kuhl raised in 2006.

Morning News: Money and Party Lines

WETM has a fundraising piece out this morning, probably the first of many from local media outlets.

Randy Kuhl will run on the Independence Party line again this Fall, according to the Star-Gazette. Kuhl got roughly 5% of his total vote last election on that line.

Room 8 Follow-Up

Ben Smith, one of the founders of Room 8, has an op-ed in today's New York Daily News. The Daily News also has an editorial (2nd item) about the Bronx DA's attempt to intimidate the Room 8 bloggers.

Kuhl Numbers: $333K Raised

The Kuhl campaign has issued a press release stating that they raised $333K last quarter. His numbers have not hit the FEC website as of this post.

Kuhl's cash on hand at the end of the last quarter was $365K, so Kuhl probably ended the quarter with less cash on hand than Massa.

Update: Kuhl's report has been posted. According to the FEC, Kuhl raised $334K last quarter, spent $81K, and ends the quarter with $619K cash on hand.

Massa Money Numbers: $290K Raised

The Massa campaign's fundraising report just hit the FEC website. Massa raised $290K last quarter, spent $203K, and has $652K on hand.

Blog Intimidation

Room 8, which covers New York City and surrounding region politics, was recently the target of what sounds like gross prosecutorial misconduct. They were served a criminal subpoena by the Bronx District Attorney, who wanted to know the identity of one of their anonymous bloggers and commenters, "Republican Dissident". The subpoena was accompanied by a gag order, so the facts of the case were hidden from public view until today.

Luckily, Room 8 was able to get free legal counsel from Public Citizen, and, as the New York Times tells it, that solved the problem:

The district attorney eventually withdrew the subpoena and lifted the gag requirement after the bloggers threatened to sue. But the fact that the tactic was used at all raised alarm bells for some free speech advocates.

As blogs grow in influence, we'll probably see more of this type of legal harassment from those who have the resources to launch a suit. It deserves the attention of anyone who thinks that free speech is important.

Kuhl News: Drilling and Protesters

Reader Elmer sends today's front-page story from the Corning Leader [pdf] (and jump [pdf]). Randy Kuhl is quoted endorsing President Bush's decision to remove limits on offshore drilling. Kuhl wants Congress to remove those limits, too.

In other Kuhl-related news, the protesters who picketed his office last summer had their appeal postponed at the request of the prosecutor.

Golisano and the 29th

As news slowly leaks from billionaire Tom Golisano's Responsible New York political committee, it appears likely that David Nachbar will be one of the candidates receiving Golisano's help. Nachbar is challenging Republican incumbent Jim Alesi in State Senate District 55, which overlaps part of the Northern 29th district.

Golisano will probably also endorse other area Democratic challengers, including Rick Dollinger in SD-56.

Well-funded challengers in lower-tier races means more interest. This is probably good for Eric Massa, if you believe the conventional wisdom that more turnout means more Democrats at the polls.

Messenger-Post on $1.98

The Messenger-Post has a detailed piece on Randy Kuhl's claim that legislation can lower gas prices to $1.98/gallon. Reporter Julie Sherwood interviews three experts who disagree with Kuhl.

T. Boone Pickens and Marcellus Shale

In his Wednesday press conference, Eric Massa mentioned T. Boone Pickens' energy plan. Pickens' plan is very simple: replace natural gas power generation with wind power, and use that natural gas to power vehicles. The goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, using a strategy that can be implemented in 10 years or less.

In the recent past, the Southern Tier's role in the Pickens Plan would have been wind power, even though this area is a relatively poor location for turbines. However, as the Corning Leader recently reported, the Southern Tier sits upon a formation called the Marcellus Shale, a natural formation containing up to 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Using recently invented extraction techniques, some geologists believe up to 50 trillion cubic feet could be extracted from the Marcellus Shale, a volume of gas that corresponds to two years of total US production.

Natural gas is an excellent transitional fuel. We have pipelines to distribute it, we know how to make cars burn it, and it burns relatively cleanly. Natural gas is also about half as expensive as fuel oil for winter heating. The Southern Tier might see an economic shot in the arm from natural gas, and it will be interesting to see if it becomes an issue in the campaign.

Massa Fundraising Items

Liz Benjamin reports that Republicans are trying to tie Charlie Rangel [NY-15] to Eric Massa and other candidates for whom he's raised funds. Rangel has some rent-controlled apartments in New York for which he's paying less than the going market rate. You can read Rangel's defense here. I'm not an expert in rent control, but I thought that the whole point of the law was to allow people to keep renting at below-market rates.

Rochesterturning has a post about Massa's quick response when it appeared that some campaign donations were accidentally channeled to his campaign.