The Fighting 29th - Analysis Posts containing my opinion of the race. en Tom Reed's Toast Lands Butter Side Up Again Chris Lee, the Republican in NY-26 who was probably going to duke it out with Tom Reed after redistricting, just got caught with his shirt off. I assume Lee, who is married, will be damaged by this scandal, leaving Reed to inherit a safe Republican district in Western New York.

I wonder if there's even been a politician who has benefited more from the peccadilloes of others.

Update: Rachel Barnhart is reporting that Chris Lee has resigned.

Frankly, I'm surprised and disgusted. I understand that he had no political future once this story broke, but couldn't he at least have served out his term instead of leaving his constituents without representation for months? Unlike Massa, there are no allegations that he harassed his staff.

]]> Analysis Wed, 09 Feb 2011 21:50:18 +0000 Rottenchester 6498 at
Why Reed Lost Corning I don't think it's a big mystery why Reed lost his hometown of Corning. Before Massa melted down, Reed made a simple calculation that the only way to win the election was to be pretty far to the right of Massa, especially since the possibility of a Tea Party spoiler was a real one (as Janice Volk showed). One of the tenets of the Tea Party is that stimulus money is bad and should be refused by politicians. So, even though Reed had supported Corning's request for $210K in stimulus money to buy some new buses, he switched positions and opposed those buses as soon as he declared his candidacy for Congress.

Being for something one day and then changing one's position when it's politically convenient is bad enough, but doing it in a way that harms the people you represent is even worse, and Reed committed that political sin in order to advance his career. The fact that Reed took what could pretty fairly be considered "stimulus money" to remodel the Bath Masonic Temple made it even worse.

]]> Analysis Mon, 08 Nov 2010 11:55:31 +0000 Rottenchester 6494 at
A Respectable Showing Tom Reed's 56-44 win in the general election is a pretty decent showing by Matt Zeller, who only had a few months to fundraise and campaign. It's interesting that there was around a 10,000 vote undervote in the special versus the general, indicating some confusion on the part of voters.

]]> Analysis Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:41:49 +0000 Rottenchester 6493 at
Obligatory Anecdotes I got a call from the Zeller campaign around noon today asking me if I was going to vote. I've gotten a few calls from Democrats this year, so the Democratic GOTV operation is working.

I voted around 6:30 in Pittsford and the poll workers said that they'd been pretty busy all day. They estimated that turnout was already 50%. That's good news for Zeller - he needs to obliterate Reed in Monroe County to have a chance to win this race.

]]> Analysis Tue, 02 Nov 2010 22:55:52 +0000 Rottenchester 6492 at
Profiles and an Endorsement The Corning Leader has profiles of Zeller and Reed in today's online edition. Reader Elmer was good enough to send the printed version (here, here and here [pdf]) which have more art and shows the kind of play the 29th race gets in the Corning paper.

And the Democrat and Chronicle predictably endorsed Reed. While they generally endorse Democrats, the D&C hasn't been able to endorse a Republican in the 29th District, and I don't think the reason has anything to do with editorial integrity or a careful evaluation of the candidates. The D&C is simply looking for editorial cover, and the 29th serves as the token district where they can say they endorsed a Republican in a competitive race whenever they're accused of being a "Democratic" paper.

]]> Analysis News Sun, 24 Oct 2010 20:50:27 +0000 Rottenchester 6484 at
It's Not the Debt Collecting That's the Problem 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.

]]> Analysis Sat, 16 Oct 2010 20:24:18 +0000 Rottenchester 6478 at
Zeller Makes the Strategic Argument In today's Corning Leader, Matt Zeller says:

“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.

]]> Analysis Thu, 07 Oct 2010 12:49:57 +0000 Rottenchester 6473 at
Debates 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.

]]> Analysis News Sun, 03 Oct 2010 13:06:24 +0000 Rottenchester 6472 at
Stealth Reed Ads? Update: Here it is: ]]> Ads Analysis Sat, 02 Oct 2010 14:54:29 +0000 Rottenchester 6471 at The Key Finding In the Siena Poll Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that there's a new Siena poll out showing Reed leading Zeller by 14 points. Here's the important part:

A majority of district residents said they aren’t familiar with either candidate. A total of 57 percent of responders said they don’t know or have no opinion of Reed, while 82 percent of those polled either don’t know have no opinion of Zeller.

It's hard to poll a race where over half of those polled don't know either candidate, and a race where nobody knows either candidate can be influenced by advertisements from one or the other. If Zeller had the money for a big media campaign, he'd be able to acquaint some of that 82% with his candidacy, and I'd wager that the gap would close. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for Reed.

It's also true that a big negative media story could sink Reed's or Zeller's boat.

]]> Analysis Polls Thu, 23 Sep 2010 11:41:54 +0000 Rottenchester 6468 at
Stating The Obvious Given Paladino's crushing defeat of Lazio, Janice Volk really missed an opportunity when she missed the ballot. She coulda been a contender, at minimum.

]]> Analysis Wed, 15 Sep 2010 15:01:20 +0000 Rottenchester 6467 at
Zeller's Ad and the Reed Campaign's Response

This is Matt Zeller's most recent YouTube post, via the comments on the last post, and it concerns the Masonic Temple in Bath. Tim Kolpien from the Reed Campaign responded in the same comment thread, saying this:

Tom was a partner to raising more than $1 million in PRIVATE capital to restore this historic building and return it to productive use. The matching Restore New York grant has been consistently misrepresented as going to Tom personally. The grant money was applied for by the VILLAGE OF BATH, not Tom Reed. Further, the money has not even been disbursed yet.

Any assertions that Tom received any money are 100% false. This is public money and the records are public. As we have done for the last year, we challenge anyone to show one shred of evidence that this public money was disbursed to Tom. No one can produce any proof whatsoever that these allegations are true.


Often, red herrings are in ALL CAPS when a politician drags them into an argument. As was discussed in detail when this story first broke, it's pretty easy to get a group of "PRIVATE" investors put together some money to renovate a property when the state is matching their investment dollar for dollar. This isn't the same thing as you or me risking our own money without a state match. When the check comes from the state, it won't say "Tom Reed" on it, but at some point this investor group will make a profit, and a check with Tom's name will be cut. That's the fundamental truth of the matter of the Masonic Temple in Bath -- Reed is leveraging a government program for his own profit. It's perfectly legal and pretty common. But the fact that he'd deny the City of Corning the same benefit that he gives himself is a legitimate issue in this campaign.

]]> Ads Analysis Tue, 07 Sep 2010 14:39:00 +0000 Rottenchester 6466 at
On The Trail of the Elusive Zeller Reader qka wrote to say that Matt Zeller was in Penn Yan with Andrew Cuomo on Thursday. The Finger Lakes Times mentions Zeller's name, but the Penn Yan Chronicle-Express story doesn't. Similarly, the Corning Leader's story on Cuomo's appearance in Hornell, which was also attended by Zeller, doesn't mention him.

This is a small example, but in general, Zeller just isn't getting any media coverage. The Massa media operation would crank out press releases almost daily, while the Zeller campaign has pushed out a couple in the whole month of August. I don't understand it.

]]> Analysis News Sun, 22 Aug 2010 12:55:22 +0000 Rottenchester 6462 at
For Volk, Second Time Not Charming As commenter TDS and Sean Carroll at 13-WHAM have both noted, the Volk campaign again failed to gain the requisite number of signatures to make the ballot.

This means that Volk's last serious chance at election just went out the window, and the race in the 29th is between Matt Zeller and Tom Reed.

]]> Analysis News Wed, 18 Aug 2010 23:26:03 +0000 Rottenchester 6461 at
Reed/Volk Dust-Up Commenter "I Still Hate Politics" sent in this item from the Hornell Evening Tribune, which details the disagreement between Reed and Volk over Reed's purported role in getting Volk's petition signatures invalidated.

As for the Volk campaign claim that she'll run on a third party line, here's a little snippet from a Huffington Post story on New York's third party mess:

To survive and prosper, a third party in New York needs only one thing - a gubernatorial candidate that can draw at least 50,000 votes. Get that, and the party has an automatic right to dole out its ballot line for every other state and local election for the next four years.

I don't know if there's another way for a third party to get a New York ballot line, but the Tea Party certainly hasn't gotten 50,000 votes in the last gubernatorial election, so I don't know how Volk is going to do what she claims, which is to run on the Tea Party line this Fall.

Update: Via the comments, Volk is going to try to get an "Independent" line on the ballot, which takes 3,500 signatures. Mike Arcuri, the incumbent Democrat in NY-24, and Ernest Bell, a libertarian candidate in NY-24, are doing the same thing, according to this story, which says:

The independent lines Arcuri and Bell are seeking are not to be confused with the Independence Party line that Hanna currently holds. The Independence Party is an actual political party, and the independent lines would be separate lines not affiliated with the major parties.

Arcuri and Bell must obtain 3,500 signatures on their petitions by Aug. 17 in order to gain independent spots on the ballot. Hanna’s press secretary Renee Gamela would not say whether Hanna plans to seek an independent spot on the ballot.

So, Volk has until next Tuesday to gather roughly three times the number of valid signatures that she tried and failed to gather for the primary.

]]> Analysis News Wed, 11 Aug 2010 14:34:47 +0000 Rottenchester 6459 at
Two Observations First: The Volk campaign is spinning out of control. The latest release, posted in the comments, says that she's going to circulate petitions for a "Tea Party Line" on the ballot. There are a whole bunch of rules about third parties in New York State. I'm not an expert, but I've never heard of someone making up a new party, petitioning, and getting on the ballot in one year. Volk's ship has sailed - she isn't going to be on any ballot. She can campaign all she wants, but the fact remains that write-in campaigns don't work, and her slim chances of beating Tom Reed became none as soon as she failed to submit the proper number of valid signatures on her Republican nomination petition.

Second: Don't mess with Matt Zeller's mom. On that point, I've always thought that the haters who post nasty comments that try to make people's strengths into weaknesses are probably mostly jealous that they were unable to achieve a fraction of what someone like Zeller has done in his short life. Whatever you think of his politics, he's an impressive individual who's served our country honorably.

]]> Analysis Mon, 09 Aug 2010 12:53:44 +0000 Rottenchester 6458 at
Volk Q&A A couple of people have sent the following from the Volk campaign:

Over the past few months this campaign has been asked to answer a multitude of both questions and criticisms. Jan is committed to a transparent campaign that enables the voters to choose for themselves, unlike her opponent, she believes in straight forward to-the-point responses. Here are Jan’s answers to the most frequently asked questions:
Why haven’t you filed with the FEC?
The answer is simple; I am running a fiscally conservative campaign. The FEC requires a candidate to file upon expending or raising $5,000.00 in funds. I am not digging into my constituents’ wallets just so I can show up and vote in Washington for them. My goal is to win this race as cost effectively as possible. I hope that we do it for one quarter of a congressman’s salary.
My opponent, on the other hand, has raised over $700,000.00 for a job that pays $174,000.00 per year. I am about the people and for the people. How can someone represent their neighbor when the mortgage can be paid five times over by campaign contributions? My opponent is not concerned about your day to day life. It appears that he is concerned with taking your money and his personal rise to power.
Did your campaign challenge Tom Reed’s petitions?
NO, we did not challenge Tom Reed’s signatures for two reasons: first, this campaign believes in democracy; second, such a challenge would have been futile because we know that Jan is the best candidate. Jan is the people’s candidate and she will not allow technicalities to be the deciding factor in the election of our next congressman. When you vote for Jan you vote for yourself! A vote for Tom Reed is a vote for the establishment and a continued disregard for our rights as citizens.
Do you think Reed’s campaign will succeed in removing Jan from the ballot?
NO, Reed’s campaign will not succeed. If Jan is removed on technicalities, then the G.O.P. is ensuring a Democratic victory this November. The G.O.P. is ignoring the fact that they must ensure that Jan is both the General Election and the Special Election Candidate. Jan is doing something that no American has done before. She is running a Constitutional campaign. This requires putting the people first.
So what next?
All of this is to say that Jan is ensuring a victory for the people by minimizing expenses while enduring fruitless challenges against her petitions. It Tom Reed’s campaign believed in democracy then they would have welcomed Jan to the race with open arms.
Remember, all politics is local. Let’s start here at home and show Washington that we are going to send an everyday American to their stomping ground. Let’s show them that Jan is our choice. When you vote on September 14, be sure to pull the lever for Janice Volk.

My only comment to this is that the term "Constitutional" as used in this email is meaningless. When any candidate runs for office they're doing what the Constitution says they can do. No one candidate gets to wrap him or her self in the Constitution and thereby claim some special privilege.

Also, we're still waiting for evidence to back up the charges of racism and sexism directed at Volk made by her campaign manager. It's telling that we've heard nothing to back up that accusation.

]]> Analysis News Mon, 26 Jul 2010 13:20:04 +0000 Rottenchester 6454 at
Young Guns Should Make Sure They Don't Shoot Their Feet Tom Reed is touting the fact that he's now one of the 39 "Young Guns" who the National Republican Congressional Committee say will help unseat Nancy Pelosi. Since he got the "Young Gun" designation, Reed's been tweeting that Pelosi Must Go.

I've long held that the whole Pelosi fixation is just meat for the base, that people don't really care about her. But within the last few days, there's another reason why running against Pelosi isn't the smartest strategy on record: Joe Barton. If Republicans do take over the House, Barton, the man who apologized to BP, will be the head of the House committee in charge of oversight of all energy-related legislation.

]]> Analysis Fri, 02 Jul 2010 20:22:58 +0000 Rottenchester 6449 at
Zeller and Volk Notes A reader sent in a report from a Zeller reception yesterday at Bully Hill Winery. It's a mixed report. He was impressed by Zeller, calling him "young", "ambitious" and a "nice guy". The overall impression was that he's "[v]ague, non-committal and busy learning".

Zeller's campaign manager thought that the Reed Pittsford office, which just opened, is a waste of money. Overall, my correspondent says that Zeller needs to "get an act together by Labor Day".

On the Volk front, Reed press man Tim Kolpien responded to a number of criticisms made by supporters of Janice Volk on the local Glenn Beck/Teabagger forum, "We Surround Rochester". Kolpien's response is more detailed than the short back-and-forth in yesterday's Star-Gazette coverage.

As part of his response, Kolpien points out that Reed is the candidate in the special election this Fall no matter what. Volk, Campini and Reed are battling for the Republican nomination for the Fall general election. If either of those candidates beat Reed, Reed would still be on the ballot in the special, and he might also run on the Conservative and Independence lines, depending on who those parties nominate for the general. This is similar to the mess that's developing in NY-23, where Doug Hoffman has a challenger in the Republican primary who's on the Independence party line. If Hoffman wins the Republican primary, the conservative vote will be split yet again in that district.

]]> Analysis News Tue, 29 Jun 2010 00:34:35 +0000 Rottenchester 6446 at
Nothing Happening A couple of people have written to ask if this blog is still alive. It is, but that's more than I can say for the race at this moment. As far as I can tell:

  • Matt Zeller is not having weekly media calls, and he also isn't issuing regular press releases. His new site is up, and he's attending fundraisers and house parties. Zeller's job right now is to raise money and get acquainted with the base.
  • Tom Reed is still having weekly media calls, and he's issuing some press releases. Both of those efforts are getting a little bit of press. Reed's job right now is to raise money and keep from saying or doing anything dumb.
  • Reed's primary challengers are either out circulating them, or trying to find the money for paid petition circulators. When they actually make it on the ballot, that will be time to talk seriously about their chances.

In other words, this is the part of the cycle where candidates aren't doing much that's visible. I'd like to see more media from the Zeller campaign, but other than that, I don't have anything more to add.

]]> Analysis Wed, 23 Jun 2010 14:22:20 +0000 Rottenchester 6444 at