Posts containing facts about the race in the 29th.

Perils of the Bring Home the Bacon Strategy

Randy Kuhl is in a little bit of hot water with the UAW, who say that  he took too much credit for bringing federal money to the proposed Sikorsky/Schweizer helicopter plant in Big Flats, near Corning.  Apparently, a Kuhl ad running in the Southern part of the 29th claims that Randy brought more than 100 jobs to the district.

I haven't seen the ad, and it isn't online, Here's the ad.  Like Kuhl's other money ad, it sure leaves the impression that he played a big part in bringing some bacon home to the district.  That's stretching it, because, as a freshman, Kuhl's role in long-term funding projects that have been in the hopper for years is peripheral at best. 

But a little over-reaching isn't the only trouble with Kuhl's money-centric strategy.  Even if you buy the dubious premise that Kuhl was personally responsible for bringing extra money into the district, you have to recognize that it was Kuhl's party loyalty and inside party contacts that put him in a position to earmark bucks for the 29th.   Since it looks like the Republicans might lose their majority in Congress, a vote for Randy Kuhl on the basis of money alone is a risky one.   He might well be a loyal member of the opposition if he's re-elected, and that means fewer (or no) earmarks.   If you're on the fence, I don't see money alone pushing you into the Kuhl camp.

Batiste's Non-Endorsement

Maj Gen (Ret) John Batiste made the following remarks in an interview in today's City News:

In your talk at the library, you criticized members of Congress who make fact-finding trips to Iraq and come back and report that things are going well. Was that a reference to Congressman Randy Kuhl?

Yeah, that was Randy Kuhl.

Have you spoken to Kuhl? Could he be right?

No, no. I wouldn't give him the time of day or my vote, for that matter. I am a registered Republican, but it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for anyone who I don't think is well informed and has the moral courage to make the right decisions.

Cheney Coverage

Cheney's here and gone, and I'd classify the coverage I saw as mixed. On their 11 o'clock news, WHAM, the ABC affiliate, led with a clip from the speech and followed with a short description of the protests.  However, their 6 p.m. news also had a piece on the Massa campaign's picnic in Henrietta.   At 10 p.m., the Fox affiliate began with the demonstrators, including a shot of one of the demonstrators being handcuffed, and ended with some Kuhl info, including a re-airing of his latest ad.  Today's Democrat and Chronicle printed a large front-page picture of Cheney along with a story quoting the reaction of audience members.  A shorter story on the protests was printed inside, along with a couple of pictures.

Cheney's entire speech is online at the WHAM site.   

The Cheney Buzz

The local media coverage of the Dick Cheney's three-hour tour continues its negative trend. This morning's paper Democrat and Chronicle balances a small headshot of Cheney on the front page with a larger picture of protests in its lengthy section B coverage. And the local CBS affiliate's story on anti-war protests leads with a link to the Cheney visit.

Massa Interview

DragonFlyEye has posted an in-depth interview with Eric Massa.  He asks some good questions, especially about Massa's positions on free trade.  This kind of interview is citizen journalism at its best.

More Bad Cheney PR

The Cheney visit was mentioned again in today's paper Democrat and Chronicle, and in the Messenger-Post.   That latter story is awful for the Kuhl campaign, since it concentrates on a Kuhl vs.the Democrats catfight about whether the visit is a secret.

As usual, where there's bad PR for the Kuhl campaign, campaign manager and son James Kuhl isn't hard to find.  James is a central figure in the M-P article.  First, he denies that the visit was kept a secret, then he says:

he hadn't formally notified the media of the event "because we were instructed not to confirm the vice president's attendance."

Well, when the VP comes to town for your campaign and you don't issue a press release, you might not be keeping his visit a secret, but you're certainly downplaying it. 

You're also leaving yourself open to letting your opponent frame the debate.  Every story I've seen on the fundraiser has the cost of tickets and photo-ops front and center, because every story starts with the Massa campaign press release. If the Kuhl campaign had issued a release about Cheney's visit first, they'd be able to frame the fundraiser in a more positive light.  Because Cheney is such a polarizing figure, that positive spin might not have stuck, but at least the first stories would not have been based solely on the words of Kuhl's opponent.

VFW Endorses Massa

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Political Action Committee has endorsed Eric Massa.  This is interesting for a few reasons.  First, in 2004, the PAC made no endorsement in the 29th race.  Second, the VFW-PAC has a history of party-neutral support.   Finally, the VFW endorsement again rubs the district sore spot of the Canandaigua VA Hospital.  So, unlike Eliott Spitzer's endorsement of Massa, which also occurred today and was nothing if not expected, the VFW endorsement is actually news.

Kuhl, Massa "Debate" in the New York Times

A New York Times article on the Democrats and the Iraq war quotes Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl extensively. 

I've detailed Massa's position earlier, and the Times article added nothing new.  What's new to me is Kuhl's response:

“That’s the old cut and run,”  Mr. Kuhl said. “I will not send up the white flag as my opponent says he will.”

An Immediate Investigation

Randy Kuhl wants Eliot Spitzer to launch an immediate investigation into gas price gouging in the 29th:

was shocked to drive from New York to Washington and watch the price of
gas drop from a high of over $2.80 in the 29th District down to near
$2.30 in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Kuhl. “If the difference in state
taxes between New York and Pennsylvania is only eleven cents, then
obviously there is something going on in New York if there’s a fifty
cent difference in price for the same product. We have price gouging
statutes on the books in New York and they ought to be used by the
Attorney General to stop this practice from occurring."

I think Elliot Spitzer is a little busy right now.  But I've got some free time.  Here are the results of my immediate investigation.

The Department of Energy tracks the average retail price of gasoline in major US markets, and they have the data formatted for download.  Data for New York is tracked, as is data for regions.  New York is in the central-Atlantic region, which also includes Delaware, DC, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania:  in other words, all of Kuhl's drive home is in this region.

I'm no energy expert, but here's what my investigation of the data has found:  Over a five-year period, New York State gas prices have been roughly 9 cents higher than the regional average (see the graph).  In October, 2005, the price difference reached a five-year maximum of 18.2 cents.  The last data point, taken on 9/11, shows that we're at a 13.6 cent difference, which is above the mean but below the historical maximum.

"Gouging" is a political term which generally means that suppliers are taking advantage of a short-term shortage to extract a maximum profit.  It looks like, on average, New York gas prices have been higher than the region for years.

I'll grant Randy that this data is an average across New York, and doesn't single out the 29th.  But we've all had the experience of driving across state lines and seeing lower gas prices.  There's nothing shockingly new here, and Randy's call for an investigation is a classic red herring.  High gas prices are a nationwide, market-based phenomenon.  There's no cabal of greedy gas station owners ripping off voters in the 29th, and Kuhl knows it.

Evidence of Democratic GOTV

The state Democratic party has opened a temporary office in Penn Yan.  Normally, offices in little burgs like Penn Yan are only opened during presidential election years.   According to the story,

organizers felt it was important this year, particularly with high-profile Democratic candidates, such as Massa, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's re-election bid and Eliot Spitzer's run for governor.

This is concrete evidence that the Democrats are serious about GOTV in the 29th this Fall.

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