Archive (2009)

My Take on NY-23

Regular commenter "Up in Prattsburgh" asked my take on NY-23, noting that Mark Assini (a Conservative candidate from 2004) could jump into the 29th race and play a similar role as Doug Hoffman is playing in NY-23.

The latest Research 2000/Daily Kos poll shows Hoffman, the Conservative candidate in the election to replace John McHugh, trailing Democrat Bill Owens by one point (in other words, they're essentially tied). Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava is behind by 10 points.

With the usual caveat that special elections are hard to poll and predict because turnout is a wildcard, my guess is that Hoffman will be more spoiler than victor in this race. Though Hoffman has attracted the attention of a lot of out-of-state conservatives like Dick Armey and Fred Thompson, his meeting with the editorial board of an area newspaper was a mess. Hoffman's unknown to 38% of the district, according to the latest poll, and he needs to make a good impression to move beyond his base. If he can't handle a simple editorial board meeting, he may have a hard time impressing undecided voters.

Though Scozzafava is behind in the poll, she's pulling 21 percent of the vote to Hoffman's 31, with 14% undecided. If the Republicans continue to split the vote, there's a good chance that Owens can win just by getting a decent share of the undecideds. This is highly likely since Hoffman and Scozzafava are at war with each other, spending precious money and time raising each other's negatives. Owens is spending his considerable warchest on positive ads, which drive up his favorables.

Even if Hoffman does pull out a win in NY-23, the circumstances in the 29th are a bit different. First, Tom Reed isn't a worn-out Assembly hack like Dede Scozzafava. The smartest thing the Republicans have done in the 29th so far is to refrain from nominating someone associated with the mess in Albany. Reed also doesn't have a Assembly record to run away from, and his public statements have been pretty conservative. It's going to be harder to run to the right of Reed than Scozzafava.

That all said, the Massa campaign offices would echo with the sounds of early celebration if a Conservative candidate did enter this race. It would almost certainly spell the defeat of Tom Reed next November.

I Don't Get It

Local conservatives are distributing a video (included after the break) that is supposedly bad for Eric Massa. The second part of the video repeats the supposed "gaffe" Massa made at Netroots Nation. But the first part of it is simply Massa saying "Hell no" to the notion that stimulus should be returned.

What's so bad about that? Shouldn't the 29th get all the stimulus money that it's entitled to?

Massa spends literally hours every week talking to the press and to constituents. If these are the supposed "oh shit" moments of his tenure of the last 10 months, I think he's pretty safe.

Dairy and War

The Messenger-Post has a story about the cost and politics of war and the need for emergency aid for dairy farmers.

The war story includes interviews with FLCC students, and has pictures of a family who recently lost a son and brother in Iraq.

News of the Post Meridiem

Tom Reed sent the Deputy Mayor to an event and The Corning Leader didn't like it.

The Messenger-Post reports that Eric Massa wants to extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

WETM reports that Massa expects a healthcare reform bill vote by Thanksgiving, and that he's still not happy with the current bill's lack of a robust public option. He'd still vote "no" on the current plan.

NYTimes on the 29th

The New York Times has a Northeast Congressional race review that spends a couple of paragraphs on the great efforts made by the NRCC in the 29th:

The early Republican effort in the Southern Tier, which encompasses more than a dozen counties along New York’s border with Pennsylvania, offers a preview of what party leaders say is likely to occur next fall. For months, Republican Party operatives have kept a close eye on Mr. Massa, the district’s freshman congressman, as he attempts to balance the conservative leanings of his district with the demands of his party’s liberal base.

In August, while attending a liberal bloggers’ convention, Mr. Massa was caught on tape saying, in regard to his support of a government-run insurance plan, “I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to help.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee immediately created a video called “Democrats Think You’re Stupid” highlighting the comments, and distributed it to news organizations. Party operatives say it will almost certainly be fodder for campaign commercials next year

Mr. Massa, whose office has dismissed the attacks as partisan games, is leaving nothing to chance, aware that House members are most at risk of defeat when seeking their second term. In addition to raising more than $800,000 in the past year, he has maintained a furious pace of public appearances in the district, holding 64 town-hall-style meetings since the beginning of 2008.

[emphasis mine]

The 29th portion of the story was obviously dictated by the NRCC and dutifully transcribed by the Times. There's not a single word in the story about Tom Reed, which says a lot about the NRCC's attitude towards the 29th.

It looks like the NRCC is trying to distance themselves from Reed, since a number of other challengers were mentioned in the story. Even the weak and disorganized GOP leadership knows that quality, well-financed challengers win races, not silly "gotcha" press releases. If the NRCC thought Reed was worth bragging about, they would have played him up. Instead, they talked about an two-month-old, long-forgotten YouTube video.

I think the Reed campaign should be a little concerned, because the NRCC just sent them a message, carried by a gray lady.

A Day Late (And More Than a Dollar Short)

Here are a couple of interesting items I missed this week:

  • The Messenger-Post has video and a story about a pro-health care rally in Canandaigua. There are some nice Halloween costumes in the mix.
  • As usual, Philip at Stop the Cap had a good piece on the Wall Street Journal story mentioned in the previous post. Phil was quoted in that story, and he found three other errors in the piece, in addition to the misnaming of Eric Massa.
    • Keep reading -- who knows what I'll miss next week!

WSJ Swears In New Representative

Reader David sends this item from the Wall Street Journal. The topic is tiered Internet plans, and it includes this quote:

When Time Warner announced last March it would expand its metered-pricing approach to other cities, including Austin and Rochester, protests erupted. Rep. Joe Messa of Rochester introduced a bill in Congress banning tiered Internet pricing plans, arguing the plan would put his city at a disadvantage for corporate investment.

Of course, "Joe Messa" is "Eric Massa".

Aside from that howler, the rest of the report is a big wet sloppy kiss to Internet service providers. It says that the FCC's enforcement of net neutrality will push the ISPs to institute tiered pricing (i.e., usage caps and overage charges). It fails to mention that by far the most profitable service Time-Warner provides is Internet service, that ISPs have little competition and engage in monopolistic price fixing, and that the costs of equipment and bandwidth have been falling every year.

Massa and Reed on the COLA

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader story [pdf] (and jump [pdf]) detailing the two candidate's position on the $250 bonus for seniors. Both are for it, they just don't agree on how to fund it.

Morning News: Stimulus and Wind

The Star-Gazette compares Massa and Reed's positions on the stimulus.

If you're interested in more information about Massa's position on wind power, the top of the Cohocton Wind Watch has an embedded video and a link to Massa's letter to President Obama on the topic. In a nutshell, Massa's beef is that a foreign company got $77 million of stimulus money to build windmills in the area, where there's not enough wind at the right time to make those windmills effective.

"Crock of Malarkey"

There was some kind of train wreck at a Cohocton town board meeting, where Eric Massa's letter in opposition to wind development in the area hit the fan.

In other energy news, Massa is going to anchor "Hydrogen Power Hour" tonight at 9 on C-SPAN.

Rochesterturning has link to Massa's appearance on the Bill Press radio show. The podcast is currently on Press's front page.

Reed Gets a Groan

The Corning Leader gives Tom Reed a groan for trying to paint Eric Massa as a "Pelosi clone".

Will Contributions Become an Issue?

Tom Reed's campaign has a press release out dinging Eric Massa for taking corporate PAC money. Reed's point is that Massa's a hypocrite since he pledged not to take PAC money in his first two races. Also, though Massa often claims that he's not popular with his party's leadership, Reed says that donations from Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and others prove the opposite.

I predict that neither of these issues will have traction in the 2010 campaign.

Unless you can tie a campaign contribution to a specific bad act ("pay for play"), voters don't seem to care much about where a politician's money comes from. More importantly, if Reed plans to run a real campaign, he's also going to take some corporate PAC money, so he'll be open to the same charge of hypocrisy that he's leveling at Massa.

Nancy Pelosi didn't give Eric Massa money because he's her favorite. Pelosi could well be quite irritated with Massa, who has voted against his party at a couple of important floor votes. But Nancy Pelosi would rather be pissed at Massa than lose her position as Speaker, so she and the rest of her leadership group will be throwing money towards all of the Representatives in tight races.

The fact that Massa can get money from Pelosi without bending to her will is another benefit of living in a contested district -- a Member of Congress facing a tight race is more likely to vote with his district than with his leadership. It's the complacent safe-seat Member who tends to kow-tow to leaders in order to curry favor.

Reed's press release is included after the break:


Congressional candidate Corning Mayor Tom Reed today decried Eric J.J. Massa’s flip flop on accepting corporate PAC money. Massa’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that he has accepted more than $133,000 from corporate PACs from the insurance, health care, and banking industries since taking office.

“It is well documented that during his 2008 campaign Eric Massa said very clearly that he would not accept corporate PAC money,” Reed said. “Then he went to Washington and literally immediately began playing the political game in accepting corporate donations. The troubling thing is how quickly he went back on his word. Only nine months into his term he has collected more than $133,000 from corporate PACs.”

“This isn’t about him getting money from banking, insurance and health care PACs,” Reed explained. “It’s about Congressman Massa telling us here at home that he would not accept corporate money and then going to Washington with his hand out to them. Eric Massa is another sad case of the politician saying one thing at home and doing the opposite in Washington.”
Overall, Massa has accepted more than $819,000 from PACs since he was elected, with labor organizations and left wing ideological PACs making up most of the $686,000 that was not corporate PAC money.

Prominent Democratic Party leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi ($4,000), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ($4,000), Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel ($2,000), and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ($2,000) made contributions to Congressman Massa, who also collected tens of thousands from other congressional Democrats and national Democratic organizations. “So much for Massa telling everyone that Democratic leadership is upset with him,” Reed said of the money from Democratic leaders.