Posts containing facts about the race in the 29th.

Roll Out the Barrel

Randy Kuhl's office has announced millions of dollars of grants in the last month (here, here, here and here).  These are routine grants, which probably would have happened no matter who was serving in the 29th.

The big splash or "October surprise" in this district would be an announcement concerning the fate of the Canandaigua VA Hospital.  This facility has been recommended for downsizing [pdf], and has been the subject of much media attention in the past couple of years.

When President Bush visited the 29th this Spring, he spent most of his time in Canandaigua, though he didn't tour the hospital.  A Kuhl announcement that the hospital would be spared would be a political trifecta:  It would show that Randy's got some mojo in DC, that there's some upside to his closeness with Bush, and that Eric Massa isn't the only candidate deeply concerned about veterans.

Update:  A full list of the recent grants is now available on Kuhl's official page.

Kuhl's Hip Replacment

Randy Kuhl had a hip replaced last Tuesday. According to WebMD, he'll probably be on crutches for several weeks, and he'll have to exercise special care in joint movement for a few more weeks. A complete recovery from this operation takes approximately 6 months, and Kuhl can expect that the replacement will last the rest of his life.

WHAM Denies Pulling Ad

Rochester's ABC affiliate denies they pulled a MoveOn ad, as the Kuhl campaign claimed in an earlier press release.  The GM of the station says the ads finished their scheduled run.  He also denies the Kuhl campaign's claim that WHAM concluded that the ad "contained multiple misrepresentations and was purposefully deceptive".

Either the Kuhl campaign over-interpreted the WHAM fact-checking article and the absence of MoveOn ads, or they just lied.  I have a hard time believing that they'd want to purposefully irritate a TV station in the district, so I'll go with simple incompetence as the explanation in this case.

More Bad Iraq PR for Kuhl

In a wire story triggered by the MoveOn ads, Kuhl's over-rosy assessment of his Iraq trip came back to haunt him. Responding to Massa's criticism that Kuhl went to Iraq and returned without any solutions, campaign spokesman Bob Van Wicklin makes the following claim:

"The only person using Iraq as a political issue is this Massa guy," said Van Wicklin. "The fact is that according to Iraq's National Security Advisor, attacks in Iraq are down 45 percent since mid-July."

Because Kuhl came back from Iraq with an unrealistically optimistic take, his staff is now bound to keep pushing a positive line on Iraq.  This is at best risky, probably foolishly so, because it continues to expose Kuhl to the charge of naiveté.

Van Wicklin probably got the 45% figure from an interview in which Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, claimed that the influx of troops in mid-July caused the overall rate of attacks to fall by 45%, and "extra-judicial murders" to fall by 35%.  If al-Rubaie is right, and the trend holds, that's wonderful news.

However, it's simply a fact that July was the bloodiest month on record in Iraq, and that the overall trend in killings for the year has been sharply upward.  Disputing that fact with a few cherry-picked quotes that fly in the face of everything else reported in the newspaper is not a winning strategy politically, and it confirms Massa's charge that Kuhl has no solutions.

Debate Shadowboxing Update

Eric Massa's latest campaign diary contains an update on debates in the 29th.  In a nutshell, nothing's happening.

Since last month's Kuhl press release challenging Massa to a debate at WLEA, a Hornell station with miniscule coverage in the far South of the 29th, even that non-event hasn't been finalized. And a tentative agreement [google cache] between the campaigns for a debate on the more powerful Rochester WHAM has apparently fallen apart.

Judging from Eric's report, Randy is still following the traditional incumbent strategy of avoiding debates with challengers.  The WLEA event, if it ever happens, will be a low-risk tactic for Kuhl to avoid the charge that he's afraid to engage.

The Massa-Murtha Connection

Eric Massa was quoted in a syndicated story about John Murtha's surge of popularity.  According to Massa, Murtha received a racous standing "O" at a funraiser for Massa in New York City on August 9.

Murtha has been appearing at fundraisers and will go on the road after Labor Day for "four dozen" Democratic candidates.  There's no news yet on a visit to the 29th.

Massa has been actively supporting Murtha, most recently by traveling to Pennsylvania to speak out against an attempted "swiftboating" campaign.  Judging from Murtha's willingness to travel widely outside of his district before election day, that campaign hasn't gotten any traction.

Rochester's a Tough TV Town

Eric Massa's stem cell press conference was an interesting example of the difficulty of penetrating the Rochester media market.  Massa's press conference was held at 10:30 a.m., which early enough to make the 6 o'clock news.  However, it didn't make any of the three major network newscasts that evening.  (I watched one and recorded two.)  It might have made the one-hour pre-news newscasts, but it wasn't a "top story" for the day.

Since Rochester sits at the confluence of four congressional districts, a Member of Congress has to do something special to make the evening news.  During the 6 o'clock newscasts, ads for the well-financed fight in the 26th district were the only time congressional candidates from any district were mentioned.  The other political ads were utilized by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Spitzer to help cement their 60+% leads, proving yet again that you can never be too rich, too thin, or win too big.

Since at least half of the registered voters in the 29th live in the Rochester media market, getting on the tube is important to both candidates.  Judging from this media event, it will take more than a press release and a news conference.

Massa Pushes the Stem Cell Button

Eric Massa held a press conference today at the University of Rochester Medical Center to publicize his position on embryonic stem cell research. He's strongly in favor of government support using these cells.  His campaign's press release linked Bush and Kuhl's positions on stem cells and noted that they favor "frozen, microscopic cells over living human beings."

The WXXI coverage of the press conference quoted Kuhl as saying he supports research on adult and umbilical cord stem cells.  That's true as far as it goes. However, it's unclear whether adult cells have the same potential as embryonic cells.  And, though umbilical cord blood has proven uses which merit further research, they aren't the same as embryonic cells. 

Kuhl's position is the radical one in this debate.  He has to convince voters of two dubious propositions to gain their support:

  1. It is better to throw away thousands of embryos than use them for research into life saving therapy.
  2. We should all take the risk that research into less promising lines of stem cells will be sufficient to find cures for terrible diseases that we all fear.

That's a tall order, indeed, and Massa is smart to choose this issue to distinguish himself from Kuhl.

Running Against Wal-Mart

This morning's New York Times has a front-page story about Democrats who are running against Wal-Mart.  Their beef is with the sub-standard wages and health benefits paid by the retail giant.

There's another concern at work in the 29th: the displacement of local businesses.   This sign is in a yard near the western edge of the 29th in Mendon.  It's part of a local protest against Wal-Mart in towns and villages near Lima (which is just outside the 29th).  Wal-Mart has proposed building a supercenter in that town, which would probably mean the end for many local hardware and grocery stores.

In that part of the 29th, sad face signs are all over the place, in front of houses large and small.  Residents with whom I spoke weren't concerned about the benefits and wages at Wal-Mart.  They simply didn't want to drive 10 miles to buy a carton of milk or a new screwdriver.

From what I've heard, Eric Massa's position on Wal-Mart reflects this concern.  In his July 20 appearance on the Bob Lonsberry show, Massa noted that he doesn't shop at Wal-Mart and instead prefers locally-owned businesses.  I don't remember a lot of doctrinare rhetoric about the evils of Wal-Mart, just a practical concern over the area's economy.  Judging from the signs, this position will go down well in the part of the 29th that borders Lima.

Why Randy Always Loses the Office Pool

A few gems from the local papers:

Randy on the election: Kuhl says war won't be key to vote

Randy on Iraq: Most of the country is very, very safe

It may turn out that both of these statements are true. But he's definitely on the wrong side of the current spread on both of them.

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