No Special (?!)

Sean Carroll is wondering if there will be no special election in the 29th.

Sean's basing that speculation on a change in tune by the Governor's office. Paterson's old position was that he'd call a special soon. It's all about the money and disenfranchising military voters now.

The bottom line is that the governor should have called the election a week ago, we'd have had it in early May, seated someone by the end of May, and that would be that. Every day that passes gets us closer to the huge August/September work campaign period.

To paraphrase the Boss: there's just no way that a Savior is going to rise from these streets to save the Democrats' bacon. They should just roll down the windows, let the wind blow back their hair, and get this thing over with.

Update: Here's Sean's follow-up, which includes Tom Reed's press release. Shorter Sean: all the excuses are bullshit and the Democrats have nobody. I agree.

MPN Editorial

Reader Joe sends this Messenger-Post editorial about the lack of primaries in the 29th.

The special election is, well, special, but I have a general suggestion not mentioned in the editorial: move the primaries back. Congressional elections require a huge commitment of money and effort from the respective parties. There's not enough time between the primary (September 14 this year) and the general (November 2) for parties to mount that effort on behalf of the candidate chosen by voters. That's one of the reasons that party committees put huge pressure on the process to avoid primaries.

There are other reasons, so this isn't a cure-all, but it might help.

Interviews Begin

The D&C is reporting that Democrats are beginning the interview process for their candidate in the 29th:

Those interviewed include Mary Wilmot, an aide to Gov. David Paterson, Assemblyman David Koon of Perinton, past candidate for state Senate and businessman David Nachbar of Pittsford, Southern Tier native Matthew Zeller and Michael McCormick of Allegany County, according to Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Morelle.

Zeller and McCormick are the new names on the list. Nachbar's name hadn't been officially mentioned, but he's a likely candidate since he was considering a primary run for the seat in the last cycle.

He (or She) Who Must Not Be Named

I guess Lord Voldemort will be the next Democratic candidate for the 29th seat, according to State Chair June O'Neill:

"We've decided we're not going to talk about individual candidates by name," said June O'Neill, the state party's executive committee chair.

O'Neill would only say that the individuals included males and females, both elected officials and private citizens, and that some live outside the district but all have ties to the district. She added that the party is casting "a very broad net" and candidates are still emerging.

Steuben Glass

In the comments on the previous post, Elmer pointed out this story about the formal stemware contract the State Department gave to a foreign bidder.

This is an example of the kind of thing that the local Congressman would be all over, if we had one.

How Reed Can Lose

I think Reed is a lock to win this race, but the past couple of days of Republican behavior (by others, not Reed), makes me think that there might be an opening for a Democrat to squeak by him. Here's how it could work:

First, Paterson needs to delay the special election as long as possible, but he needs to call one. Special election turnout is hard to get and is generally all about the base. If Democrats can motivate their base to turn out, and blanks are indifferent, a Democrat has a chance to win.

Second, we need to have more brick throwing, death threats, talk of tyranny, etc. The more the better (for Reed's opponent, not the country). Nobody likes to hear about at least 10 serious threats against Members of Congress over a fairly modest insurance reform.

Third, Reed's opponent needs to get in his face about that kind of stuff, and ask him to disown it. Here's an example:

(Those are sniper sight images.) Remember that in 2006 Randy Kuhl put out an ad showing Eric Massa targeting sniper fire at the elderly in the district. That ad came down pretty quickly. Perhaps Reed's opponent could ask him to disown this image -- which, remember, comes from a serious Republican, who was nominated to be the VP of a 72-year-old -- given the death threats, including one aimed at the children of an 80-year-old grandmother, Louise Slaughter.

Fourth, Republicans need to make repeal the cornerstone of their Fall campaign. That gives Reed no positive program to run on. Bonus points if they listen to Newt and pledge to shutdown government for two years until they regain the Senate and Presidency.

Finally, the NRCC and DCCC need to decide this race is a bellewether, and pour tons of money and ads into it. If Republicans are running on repeal, Democrats will be able to say that Tom Reed wants to re-instate insurance denials for pre-existing conditions.

If all these things happened, I wouldn't be surprised to see a close election. I don't think it's going to happen. I think the election will be won or lost on jobs, the economy and the memory of Eric Massa's shenanigans. But if Sarah and Newt are still in charge two months from now, all bets are off.

Debunking Some Talking Points

The bill isn't popular.

Pre-passage polls that showed a majority disliking the bill always had the issue of liberals who didn't think it went far enough, others who weren't well-informed about it, and some who were disgusted with the process. Now that the bill is law, early polls aren't showing a major backlash. Of course, this is an ongoing process, but the notion that Americans are going to rise up to smite insurance reform has always been a bit far-fetched. There were far more protesters calling for immigration reform in DC on Sunday than there were protesters yelling about healthcare reform.

The bill is unconstitutional and will be repealed.

Maybe, but I haven't heard many compelling specific arguments. Medicare requires a mandatory tax to fund healthcare. The government can require people to buy insurance. There's nothing radically new in the bill.

Republicans can de-fund this if they take over Congress.

Congress has never de-funded a major entitlement. And taking over Congress is a big job -- Democrats have big majorities in both Houses.

Prohibition was repealed.

That wasn't an entitlement. And people love to drink. They don't love worrying about whether they're going to have insurance if they lose their job.

Reed On Healthcare Reform

Reader Elmer sends a link from the Corning Leader with Tom Reed's reaction to the passage of the healthcare reform bill. It's a pretty generic statement, with no specifics.

Current Republican rhetoric is skewing towards full repeal of the bill. That won't happen. There's never been a major entitlement repealed, and it will be impossible to overturn an Obama veto until possibly 2012, since it will be impossible for Republicans to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate in 2010.

So, when Tom Reed talks about replacing the bill with smaller measures, he's talking about something that will not happen in the next three years, and will probably never happen. If this bill is like other entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security, the best that can be done is changes to the existing bill. After more than a year of predicting an apocalypse, the Republicans need to step up with a practical plan of changes that deal with the reality of the bill that the President just signed, not some fantasy world where the bill is replaced wholesale.

Death Threats

13-WHAM reports that Louise Slaughter received a death threat, aimed at children of lawmakers who vote yes, during the healthcare reform debate. Also, bricks that broke her office windows in Niagara Falls, and Democratic headquarters in Rochester, were apparently thrown by people inspired by a blogger who lives in Alabama.

When you use words like "tyranny" when describing a majority vote of both branches of Congress, and whip people into a frenzy about the death of Grandma, some of this is bound to happen. It's ugly and I'm sad to see it happen in New York, where both political parties are generally reasonable and we pride ourselves on being able to disagree without being disagreeable.

Slow Play

Sean Carroll has an update on the Democrats' efforts to find a challenger for Tom Reed. He hears that Democrats are slow playing the search while they wait for the Governor to declare the seat vacant.

I understand the reason that Democrats are using this strategy, but obviously it would be best for the 29th if Paterson would just declare the seat vacant and hold the election. Barring a miracle, this seat is going to be Tom Reed's for the next 2 1/2 years.

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