Joe Dunning's column [pdf] includes a few observations about the candidates, including a note that Zeller is far more convincing than Reed when discussing Afghanistan.
Many of the Zeller and Volk supporters posting in the comments point out that Tom Reed is a debt collecting attorney. Well, my brother happens to be an attorney who makes part of his money from collecting debts (in another state). He's an honorable family man, just like Reed, but at least he acknowledges the main reason people go into debt and can't get out -- medical bills.
And he also realizes one of the reasons that people have a hard time with medical bills is that the deck is stacked against the self-paying individual. If you or one of your family members ever happens to go to the hospital, take a hard look at the bill. If they're insured, the insurance company has cut deals with the hospital for a discount, and it's nothing minor. For example, I know someone who had to have multiple high-res MRI scans of the brain. There's only one machine in Rochester that can do them, and the price for the uninsured person is around $5,000. For someone with insurance, the price is about $1,600, because Excellus has negotiated a discount with the University of Rochester.
Let's imagine that you're a young person who just paid your way through college. You're working a part-time job because the economy is bad, and you can't afford insurance. If you have an unexplained seizure, which isn't that uncommon, you really have no choice. You pay $3,400 more than someone who's insured for a high-res MRI. Then, you either go into bankruptcy, at worst, or get a call from Tom Reed, at best.
According to my brother, when Reed finally comes to collect this bill, he'll probably knock off a few thousand bucks and cut a deal. Our college kid will probably end up paying a bit more than what the insurance company did, but he'll have to ruin his credit rating to do it.
Under evil, nefarious, socialistic Obamacare, which Tom Reed's party has pledged to repeal, our new graduate would get a subsidy to help him pay for insurance, and his insurance would pay for his procedure. If the seizure was caused by a chronic illness, our new graduate could not be denied insurance for the rest of his life. These are the awful things Democrats like Zeller want.
Like Tom Reed, my brother and I both make plenty of money and can afford good insurance. Unlike Reed, my brother and I both support Democrats because we believe that this country owes the working poor a chance to get ahead in life without facing life-destroying medical bills. There's a lot of rhetoric about personal responsibility being thrown around when we talk about healthcare reform. The reality is that uninsured people who will benefit from healthcare reform are generally working poor. I have a hard time being very judgmental about people who are poor and holding down a job.
So, don't knock Tom Reed for being a debt collector. Knock him for not wanting to give people who work but can't afford insurance an opportunity for the same coverage that he can afford.
Here's Matt Zeller's candidate free time on WXXI in Rochester:
Here's the Corning Leader's story on the Bath League of Women Voters candidate forum.
Reed and Zeller both agree that the lack of a cost of living increase in Social Security is a bad thing.
Here's an interesting interview with Amo Houghton in today's Corning Leader. Amo talks about the polarization in Washington and his thoughts on government creating jobs.
“You’ll get representation from Rochester or Buffalo or Syracuse,” Zeller said Wednesday. “I’ve already been told by state Democrats if I win this thing, the seat stays pretty much the way it is. If I lose, this seat goes bye-bye. The people of Corning will be represented by someone from Rochester or Syracuse or Buffalo.”
I think this is probably true. The reality of reapportionment is that New York is going to lose seats, and with that loss, there are probably enough Democrats in Western New York to create a new set of Congressional majority-Democrat districts. If Zeller held the seat, the Democrats would want to keep him in, so they'd gerrymander around him. If it's Reed, they'll move the borders in a way that makes him run against, say, Maurice Hinchey. Or they'll create a district that would have Chris Lee and Tom Reed fight it out for the nomination, and the district would still have enough Democrats that the winner of that fight would have an uphill climb to keeping their seat.
After reapportionment, those of us living in the Rochester suburbs probably won't be represented by Tom Reed. My guess is that we'll have one Monroe County district instead of the four-way mess (NY-25, NY-26, NY-28 and NY-29) that we have now.
Janice Volk's campaign people are pointing out that Janice Volk will attend the Bath candidate forum on October 12, and are characterizing this as a debate. I attended this event in 2006, and it's not a debate -- there's no back-and-forth between the candidates. It is a candidate Q&A, where each candidate takes audience questions that are pre-screened by the League of Women Voters.
Also courtesy of the comments, here's the Hornell Evening Trib's run-down of debates and candidate events.
Here are Tom Reed's first two TV ads. Both are similar, and similar to Zeller's. The two candidates are just trying to form a positive impression and increase name recognition.