Archive (2008)

AIDS Quilt

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story and photo [pdf] showing Eric Massa cutting the ribbon for the AIDS quilt display at the Southeast Steuben Public Library in Corning.

News: Auto Bailout and CEO Donations

WETM has Eric Massa's take on a Detroit bailout. Massa wants to see strings similar to those attached to the 1979 Chrysler loan.

The D&C looked into CEO contributions in the Rochester-area congressional races. Wegman's CEO went all-in for Massa, while the Corning CEO put his money on Kuhl.

Eric Massa: Relentless

In an election year full of surprises, Eric Massa delivered a big one: he convinced a bunch of core conservative Southern Tier voters to take a chance on him. He did it by running a dogged, enthusiastic and disciplined campaign, the likes of which are rarely seen in New York.

Massa began the 2008 race shortly after losing in 2006. He predicted that he had to raise $3 million to win. It looks like he raised $2 million, an impressive sum. Add the DCCC's almost $1 million spent, and Massa's $3 million prediction looks like the right number.

Fundraising is vital to a campaign, but money alone buys little in politics -- just ask Tom Golisano, who poured millions into state races with little result. Massa coupled his fundraising with press outreach and old-fashioned one-to-one campaigning.

Massa's press effort was a critical component of his victory strategy. It was remarkable for both its early start and dogged consistency. The Massa campaign started sending out press releases in May of 2007, and it was a rare week when they didn't crank out a handful of items addressing the "issues of the day". Massa's weekly press conferences were often lightly attended, but they yielded numerous stories in the Southern Tier media.

Massa's press operation established him as the voice of the loyal opposition in the Southern Tier. In years past, Randy Kuhl could expect local media to treat him as the undisputed authority on what happened in Washington, DC. When Massa arrived on the scene, Kuhl's free media ride stopped. Massa was often better-informed on issues than Kuhl, and it was easy work for reporters to lift his quotes from his press releases and conferences.

In addition to taking full advantage of free media to acquaint the district with his views, Massa also introduced himself personally to his future constituents. Besides the usual parades, community celebrations and the like, Massa held hundreds of house parties across the district. This kind of retail politicking was key to building enthusiasm among party faithful, who aren't going to work hard for a candidate unless they believe he will work hard for them.

Massa's candidacy teaches a number of lessons to those who might be interested in unseating an incumbent. Perhaps the most important lesson is that winning requires a combination of good circumstances and incredibly hard work. Campaigns against entrenched incumbents can't start a few weeks or months before an election. Just as an incumbent's reputation wasn't formed in a few months, a challenger must also introduce himself repeatedly to those he wishes to represent.

Eric Massa's relentless, four-year effort showed a level of grit and perseverance that's uncommon in New York politics. Candidates like Tom Golisano, Jack Davis and David Nachbar should take note, because they aren't likely to succeed without an effort on par with Massa's.

Third Place

Julie Sherwood at the Messenger-Post follows up with write-in candidate Al Merklinger, who garnered 11 votes in his quest to represent the 29th.

Finally, Some News

Eric Massa will cut the ribbon at the Southeast Steuben County Library's display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt tomorrow at noon.

Orientation and Cots

The Democrat and Chronicle has a story about Congressional orientation for the three Rochester-area new members.

In related news, the phenomenon of Members of Congress sleeping in their offices, which Randy Kuhl did during at least this year, is mainly a Republican one. It's not clear if Eric Massa, who is not moving his family to DC, will participate.

The Untold Money Story

According to ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising site, Eric Massa raised an astonishing $724K from over 12,000 donors online. That's an average of about 50 bucks per donor.

In contrast, the Obama campaign raised half a billion dollars from 3 million donors. That's about $167 per donor on average. About 2 1/2% of those voting in the presidential race donated to Obama.

Though Obama's totals are getting all the press, Massa's are equally breathtaking. For very little effort compared to traditional fundraising, Massa was able to raise about 1/3 of his total bankroll.

Last cycle, Massa raised $415K from around 7,200 ActBlue supporters. Even though a huge amount of cash was funneled to the Obama campaign, Massa was able to tap another $300K from an additional 5,000 ActBlue donors. This indicates that we're just scratching the surface of the number of people willing to send a few bucks to some Congressional candidates who share their political views.

Some might object to ActBlue on the grounds that it allows influence from outside the district. But that's true of most of the money in contested Congressional campaigns. Union and corporate PACs contributions, party money and donations from sitting Members of Congress poured into this race. The difference between that money and ActBlue contributions is that the former comes with strings attached.

ActBlue, like Obama's millions of small donors, is a better way to finance campaigns, and we'll be seeing more of this kind of financing in future races.

Leader Victory Story

Here's this morning's Corning Leader victory story.

Update: Reader Elmer sends today's front page [pdf] to show how it played in Massa's home town.

Massa Interview

Sean Carroll at the 13-WHAM blog has an interview with Eric Massa, including raw video. Massa talks about a possible GM bailout, his role representing those who may not have voted for him, and Hillary as Secretary of State.

Massa's Acceptance Speech

Massa's acceptance speech, as captured by WENY, after the break:

Kuhl Statement

Randy Kuhl issued the following statement a few minutes ago:

I would like to congratulate my opponent on his victory. A few moments ago, I called Eric Massa to congratulate him on being elected to the 111th Congress.

I would also like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me over the last 28 years. From voting for me to volunteering for my campaign or putting a sign in their yards, words cannot express my appreciation for my supporters. I have been honored to represent them in Congress, the State Senate and State Assembly. This election's outcome is no indication of the hard work and dedication that my supporters put forth.

This race was a close and tough battle to the end, and today I urge all of my supporters to give Congressman-elect Eric Massa the support and encouragement that he will need to carry out the great tasks that he will face in the 111th Congress. This country is facing an uphill battle. Our economy faces historic and unprecedented challenges, and we must unite to find the solutions that our country needs.

Massa Press Conference: Victory

Eric Massa announced that he has won the race for the 29th district at a press conference this morning.

"Every ballot has been counted," Massa said, "and I am humbled to accept the votes and the victory."

Massa said that he received a "gracious" concession call from Kuhl. "He has had a long and honorable stewardship of our public offices. He pledged his staff and himself to the effort of an orderly transition." Massa said he was committed to doing that, and to work "hand in glove" to make the transition "as seamless as possible."

Massa thanked his wife and family, thousands of supporters who "participated in a true grassroots campaign." The race is about "stewardship of a very important office."

Massa said that he had in excess of 5,000 votes.