Other Democrats

Sean Carroll's new blog post has some more news on Democrats.

I'd missed the news that Mike Green is out.

In addition to the name of David Nachbar, Sean has a new rumored lamb to the slaughter: Mary Wilmot. She works for David Paterson and is part of the wealthy Wilmot family, which owns the Wilmorite mall management company.

Both Nachbar and Wilmot can self-finance, to a degree. Other than that, they're unknowns.

The B-Team

This morning's Corning Leader story about the Democratic field in the 29th names three possible candidates: Assembly members David Koon and Susan John, and Brighton Mayor Sandra Frankel.

Koon's name was mentioned earlier, and he seems the best of this bunch. Susan John is retiring from the Assembly, and has had major issues in the past with drunk driving charges. Sandra Frankel is the mayor of the most liberal town in the 29th. Notably absent from the list is Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

It's pretty clear that the Democrats are looking at candidates who can afford to lose. John has a state pension. Koon and Frankel aren't up for election in 2010.

Whoever is nominated will be hoping that the same lightning that struck for Tom Reed will strike twice. Reed will win in a walk over any of them after what's happened in the past week.

Back to the Committee

Commenter groundhum sends this item about a vote today to refer the Massa investigation back to the House Ethics Committee. The vote was on a measure to instruct the committee to restart the investigation. Instead, the House voted to refer the measure back to the committee.

My understanding of a "motion to refer" is that it's the committee's decision whether they conduct an investigation. CBS News reports, "The 402-1 vote means there may or may not be further inquiry into the Massa affair."

What Did Pelosi Know?

Reader Elmer sends a link to the Washington Post story reporting that Joe Racalto, Massa's chief of staff, reported concerns about Massa's behavior to the Director of Member Services for the House, who is on Pelosi's staff.

Racalto reported that Massa was living in a house with young male staffers, and that he was spending time alone with young gay House employees for no work purpose.

Some pundits are trying to make a big deal of the Pelosi angle, but I happened to listen to a few minutes of Lonsberry this afternoon, and he said that he needed to "give the devil his due". He thought it was pretty clear that Massa was forced out by Democrats because of his behavior.

Another point that I haven't seen made about this incident is that Massa himself said that he moved out of the house after Recalto became concerned about him living there. I don't know if that was a result of Racalto's trip to Pelosi's office, but it sounds like Racalto alone couldn't get the job done, and Massa did move out, so you connect the dots.

Reed's Crew

Elmer sent me a short item from the Leader, which listed Tom Reed's new hires over the last week.

  • Former Congressman Bill Paxon, who used to represent Erie County, is co-chair of his campaign. Paxon's an "advisor" at Akin, Gump, a power DC law firm.
  • Former Commerce Secretary Wayne Berman is his new DC fundraiser. Berman, a Rochester native, is a long-time Republican fundraiser.
  • John Potter, Jr., is Reed's in-district fundraiser. He's an Elmira businessman.

With this crew, Reed is set to raise some serious cash.

Readers Send Stories

Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader editorial page [pdf]. Here's a gem from the lead editorial:

To repeat: first there was the cancer scare, then an Ethics Committee investigation and finally his railroading by the Democratic leadership because he opposed the health care bill.

If there are more reasons, we’re really not interested, especially if they are of the tickling, wrestling, groping and using dirty language

Reader Don sends this Hill piece, quoting Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy notes that the Massa story has completely obscured a debate on a resolution to withdraw from Afghanistan. That resolution wasn't going anywhere, but Massa would have supported it.

Morning News

As expected, the House Ethics Committee investigation is over.

The Corning Leader reports that the count of committee chairs in Tom Reed's corner is 7 out of 8. Only Monroe is holding out, presumably for Maggie Brook's decision, which will almost certainly be not to run. Reed also says he's raising money hand over fist.

Kuhl's Out

The non-surprise of this surprising week is that Randy Kuhl has issued a press release saying he's out of the race.

Massa Massages

Joshua Green at the Atlantic has on-the-record confirmation from named sources who essentially confirm the charges made by Bob Lonsberry last week. When serving in the Navy, Massa was "notorious" for making unwanted advances toward subordinates, and offering "Massa massages".

One of Green's sources for other Massa-related information is Sanford Dickert, the man Massa fired in 2006 from his campaign. One of the charges that Massa made about Dickert was a hint that Dickert tried to make a pass at Massa's then-teenage son. Green publishes a set of documents from Dickert that detail the whole affair. I read all those documents in 2006 and published this summary.

One interesting sidelight to this is the strange behavior of Dickert. In hindsight, my guess is that he knew Massa's secret and was holding it as leverage over Massa to force a quick settlement to his lawsuit. His strategy didn't work. He did prevail in the legal action, but it was a pyrrhic victory at best -- he probably paid his lawyers more than he made.

Doing the Right Thing, for Better or Worse

Philbrick at Mustard Street makes the correct observation that David Paterson's decision to call a special election as soon as possible will probably hurt Democrats.

In a narrow, political sense, I think that's true. The memory of Massa's antics will be fresh in voters' minds when then go to the polls.

Similarly, Steny Hoyer hurt his party, in a narrow sense, when he advised Massa's staff to launch an ethics investigation. This set up a chain reaction that culminated in the mess we have today.

But if Paterson didn't call an election, the 29th seat would be empty for the rest of the year, and members of both parties would resent a Democrat's decision to try to save the eat. And if Hoyer had delayed the investigation, Massa's charges could have blown up immediately before the election, causing a Foley-like scandal which affected other races.

It often seems tactically smart to avoid doing the right thing, but in both of these cases, I think the Democrats making the decision made the right choice, politically, by doing their duty.

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