Posts containing facts about the race in the 29th.

Two Votes on Half-Measures

Randy Kuhl's latest major votes have been, predictably, with the Republican majority. They both reflect that majority's failure to come to terms with two big issues:

  • The Secure Fence Act of 2006 is just one component -- and probably the least effective one -- of a new immigration policy that's stalled in Congress.
  • The Earmarking "reform" bill is the result of gutting lobbying reform.  It establishes a public database of earmarks while avoiding the larger issues raised by the Abramoff scandal.

Both of these bills were passed strictly to give legislators something to take back to their campaigns this Fall.  Calling them "half-measures" is generous -- "band-aid" or "g-string" would probably be more accurate.   Voters in the 29th should still feel free to wonder why Congress can't police itself or deal with immigration.

No National Money for Massa

Today's New York Times has a story about the Democratic strategy in New York State.  Only NY-24, which is an open seat, will be getting funding from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That's bad news for Eric Massa, who really needs to be on the airwaves now raising his name recognition.   I'll bet that Massa's name recognition in the 29th is in the teens.  If the DCCC wants to win, it should send a few bucks his way.

This story is one of a few post-Labor Day articles (here's another) where political writers come to their senses and realize that it takes more than favorable nationwide polls to produce wins in Congress. But that's no surprise.   Gerrymandered, Republican upstate districts like the 29th are always an uphill climb -- the national dissatisfaction with Republicans only puts them within reach.

Avoiding the October Surprise

Eric Massa and Max Cleland will hold a press conference in front of the Canandaigua VA hospital today.  As I posted earlier, saving that endangered facility is a great candidate for an October surprise by Randy Kuhl. 

Judging from the press release emailed by the Massa campaign this morning, Massa and Cleland -- who once ran the VA -- will try to raise the ante on Kuhl.  Money quote from Massa:

I’d be more inclined to expect an October Surprise, with my opponent riding in on a white horse to save the day. That’s not good enough. Keeping it open for a few months or a year to buy some votes is inadequate. Given the enormous need and this facility’s expertise, we need stable, long-term funding and a significant expansion of services.

Cleland's visit has yielded some press coverage in the Hornell and Olean papers, so perhaps today's gathering will be more effective than Massa's previous press events.

Weekly Round-Up

Congress is back in session, and the only (slightly) close vote of the week was the Horse Protection Act. Kuhl voted for the act. It passed without the support of the majority of Republicans, even though the sponsor was Republican John Sweeney of neighboring NY-20.

In other non-news, political analysts Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato both updated their House race rankings this week. The 29th race showed no movement in either analysis.

Finally, disabled vet and former Senator Max Cleland appears today at Massa fundraisers in Buffalo and Cattaragus County.

Bush Hands Kuhl a Golden Opportunity

President Bush's proposal for Gitmo tribunals brings back the memory of one of Randy Kuhl's most interesting votes.  Last year, Kuhl  sided with Sen. John McCain in a vote for a torture ban.  Though Bush eventually endorsed this bill, he initially opposed it, and only relented after McCain put together a veto-proof majority in the House.  121 Republicans still voted against the bill.

Today, we have a politically similar situation.  Bush's proposal is probably unconstitutional.  Republican Senators McCain, Lindsay Graham and John Warner have already expressed skepticism.  Whatever bill comes out of Bush's speech may well be opposed by the same bi-partisan coalition that supported McCain last year.

If Kuhl joins that group, he has an opportunity to show he's not "Rubber-Stamp Randy", while still allying himself with respected members of his party. After all, it's only disloyalty if nobody else is doing it.

Hillary to the Rescue

Today's Wall Street Journal has some good news for Eric Massa. To prove that she can win in red states in 2008, Hillary Clinton is planning a big get-out-the-vote effort in the more Republican areas of the state, including the 29th. This article also acknowledges that the big leads that Spitzer and Clinton hold over their opponents might lead to some voter complacency.

The 29th is named as the "next best shot" for a Democratic pick-up after the open seat in NY-24.  Republicans are quoted as saying their polls show Kuhl and other incumbents running ahead of challengers.  Since that's a self-report of an internal poll, it can be viewed with the usual extreme skepticism.

Labor: It's Them, Not Us

Eric Massa was the Grand Marshal of yesterday's Rochester Labor Day parade, and he's been endorsed by a long list of unions.  That's a change from two years ago, when labor supported Randy Kuhl.

Labor's justification for switching is an interesting study in revisionist history.  In the WHAM story on the parade, these revisions included charges of "betrayal".  Union leaders want their rank and file to believe that Kuhl and other Republicans recently changed their minds on three key issues: "higher minimum wage, limits on CEOs' pay and pensions, and new 'fair trade' laws".

Who do they think they're kidding?  Republican positions on these three issues haven't changed in years.  The union leaders' post hoc justifications strain credulity and insult the intelligence of their members.

Short-term opportunism is part of the reason that union influence is so weak.  When Kuhl looked unbeatable in '04, unions endorsed him and gave him money.  Now that he's vulnerable, they switched their allegiance to his opponent. Why should any politician or party court an interest group as fickle as this one?   

New York Off the GOP Radar

According to a story in this morning's New York Times, the Republican party has targeted six states where control of Congress will be decided.  New York is not one of them.  The GOP plans to spend a record $60 million on off-year elections.  Half of that will go to get-out-the-vote efforts. 

Momentum, Again

In this morning's Washington Times, Eric Massa is mentioned as one of the candidates who will benefit from the tidal wave of Spitzermania:

"Democrats will be very motivated to vote this year because of the promise of Eliot Spitzer as governor," said Blake Zeff, spokesman for the New York State Democratic Party. "There is no question we will be able to motivate our voters and turn them out. I don't think the Republicans can say the same."

I'm still skeptical. I don't think marginal Democratic voters go to the polls to vote for sure winners -- they go when they think their vote will count.

But here's how Spitzer's mighty mo' can help Eric Massa. Like Hillary Clinton, he, too, can speak at fundraisers for Massa. He (and Clinton) can also pitch in for turnout efforts in November. In other words, he can provide real money, not some kind of ephemeral (and unmeasurable) "momentum".

Massa Makes the Wires

Eric Massa was one of the participants in a Democratic National Committee sponsored conference call this morning.  His comments, which essentially call Rumsfeld a liar, have been picked up by the national AP wire

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