Archive (2009)

Farmers' Union on Climate Change

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader opinion page [pdf] which contains a letter from the President Dean Norton of the New York Farm Bureau, lauding Massa's "No" vote on the climate change or "cap and trade" bill. Though the Farm Bureau opposed the bill, it was full of concessions to farmers.

Announcement Coverage

Tom Reed's announcement received coverage in the Corning Leader, City Newspaper, WENY and WETM.

From WENY:

Reed says his platform will be built on three planks, personal accountability and responsiblity, less government, and lower taxes. “Government should not be the end all and be all,” said Reed, “it should guarantee opportunity for someone to succeed not their individual success.”

All well and good, but Reed had better put some meat on those bones. Which government should be limited? What taxes should be lowered, and which services will we cut when we cut taxes?

Why This Race Will Be Interesting

We're going to learn a lot about Tom Reed in the next few weeks and months. Reed finds himself in much the same spot as Eric Massa did in 2005. He's unknown in most of the district, never held a legislative position, and he doesn't have a lot of money. How Reed introduces himself will tell us a lot about the kind of candidate he is, and whether he has a chance to beat Eric Massa.

My main interest is whether Reed will be a New York Republican or a rump Republican. In other words, does he have the independence to craft his own message? If he has the originality and ability to be a new kind of Republican, this might be an interesting election. Otherwise, Reed's run will probably be over very soon.

Reed's first challenge will be to articulate clear positions on the issues of the day that are acceptable to a majority of voters. With a hard core of Southern conservatives in control of the Republican party, Northeast Republicans are constantly torn between the dictates of their party and what voters will accept. Jim Tedisco's surprising defeat in NY-20 is a good object lesson of how this bind can't be finessed. Tedisco was caught between the rock of Republican opposition to the stimulus bill, and the hard place of the electorate's desire for such a bill. Tedisco's early hemming and hawing on how he would have voted probably cost him a squeaker election.

Reed's second challenge will be avoiding the tar pit of House Republican political incompetence. A big factor in Randy Kuhl's loss was his reliance on Republican advisors who gave him some terrible advice. Kuhl ducked debates, canceled town hall meetings, and doubled down on party loyalty when when more availability and a few votes against his party would have gone a long way. Kuhl also parroted John Boehner's talking points about the evil of a Pelosi-led Congress, which is procedural inside baseball that's irrelevant to most voters.

Reed will also have to come up with a positive alternative to Massa's positions. Republican attempts to provide an alternative have been almost comically ineffective, with meaningless charts, flowcharts and "budgets" without numbers. It's easy to treat every day like "opposite day" by putting out press releases that negate Democrats' talking points. Reed needs to do something more: tell us what he's for, not just what he's against.

In his first six months, Eric Massa has done quite well. He's on the right committees, he's voting for his district at times when it upsets his leadership, and his service offices are in-place and working well. Reed and the Republicans need to bring their A-game, and I hope they do, because we need hotly contested Congressional races in order to have a functioning democracy.

Reed Announces

The Democrat and Chronicle has has the news of Tom Reed's announcement. The Star-Gazette notes that the state Democratic committee had a press release out one minute after Reed's announcement.