Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Wishing Doesn't Make It So

Reader Joe, who also is a volunteer for Janice Volk's campaign, sends this open letter [pdf] from Janice. It's a pretty typical new candidate piece -- short on specifics and long on generalities.

The big question, money, gets answered at the end:

Please consider joining my campaign as a volunteer, I am not comfortable asking for your money during these difficult economic times, but I will ask for your help.

Running for Congress is not like running for dogcatcher. You can't just put a couple of hundred bucks out of your pocket, print up a few yard signs, and knock on some doors. If Janice Volk isn't willing to ask for money, she's not a serious candidate.

Immigration and Elections

Reader Up in Prattsburgh points out that Tom Reed is fine with Arizona's immigration law. I don't know why Republican candidates think they need to have a hard-line immigration position. It's clear that the only constituents who are seriously interested in immigration, farmers, want more lenient guest worker programs, and have little interest in what Arizona is doing, unless it impacts their ability to hire migrant workers.

In other news, Sean Carroll talks to the former head of the Monroe County Bar Association, who says that the lawsuit attempting to force a special election will probably be thrown out.

CQ Speculation

Rochesterturning picks up this CQ item which speculates that David Nachbar might run for the 29th seat in the Fall, assuming Governor Paterson doesn't call a special election. Nachbar fuels this speculation by telling CQ that he would consider running in the general.

With State Assemblyman Joe Errigo's retirement now official, I continue to agree with Philbrick at Mustard Street that Nachbar will end up running for Errigo's seat, as I predicted earlier this month.

Zeller certainly hasn't hit the ground running, probably because he has no money, so Nachbar may think he can sneak back in. I certainly don't blame him for not wanting an Assembly seat. But I think Joe Morelle has spoken, and he wants Nachbar to take a run at Errigo's seat, which he has a better chance of winning.

My Best Guesses

Here are the tea leaves I'm reading to explain why Matt Zeller ended up with the nod to run for the 29th seat:

  • Last night I was randomly polled by "Central Research" on a New York State Senate matchup: incumbent Republican Jim Alesi versus Mary Wilmot. Wilmot was one of the names mentioned for the 29th seat, so this explains where she's going.
  • With the rumor that Assemblyman Joe Errigo may retire, my guess is that David Nachbar will run for that seat this Fall. Nachbar paid his dues by losing to Alesi in 2008.
  • Democrats don't want to lose David Koon's seat. With the possibility of the special election either not happening, or coinciding with the September primary, a Koon run would have endangered his seat, so he's out of the 29th fight.

The Monroe County Democratic Party would rather keep Koon's seat, and put two independently wealthy self-funders up for the Alesi and Errigo seats, than take a long shot in the 29th. That's how Zeller became the sacrificial lamb in this race.

Alesi's seat is probably unwinnable, because he's both moderate and reasonably popular, but what Mary Wilmot will spend to try to take the seat amounts to a rounding error in the Wilmorite fortune. Using her money to put a dent in Alesi is an appealing prospect for the MCDC. The Errigo seat is probably gettable, and Nachbar is the best candidate that the MCDC has, so his positioning makes sense.

It ain't pretty, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

Getting A Little Ahead of Ourselves

Reader Joe let me know that Gannett is reporting that Paterson will not have a special election. Now CBS has picked up the same story.

Here's the problem. Gannett headlined their story "Governor won't call special election for Eric Massa's former seat". But the body of the story says:

McKeon indicated no decision has been made on whether to wait until the Nov. 2 general election to fill the seat, but she said the governor also is concerned about disenfranchising voters serving in the military overseas.

Paterson is clearly signaling that there might not be a special election, but it hasn't been announced officially.

MPN Editorial

Reader Joe sends this Messenger-Post editorial about the lack of primaries in the 29th.

The special election is, well, special, but I have a general suggestion not mentioned in the editorial: move the primaries back. Congressional elections require a huge commitment of money and effort from the respective parties. There's not enough time between the primary (September 14 this year) and the general (November 2) for parties to mount that effort on behalf of the candidate chosen by voters. That's one of the reasons that party committees put huge pressure on the process to avoid primaries.

There are other reasons, so this isn't a cure-all, but it might help.

He (or She) Who Must Not Be Named

I guess Lord Voldemort will be the next Democratic candidate for the 29th seat, according to State Chair June O'Neill:

"We've decided we're not going to talk about individual candidates by name," said June O'Neill, the state party's executive committee chair.

O'Neill would only say that the individuals included males and females, both elected officials and private citizens, and that some live outside the district but all have ties to the district. She added that the party is casting "a very broad net" and candidates are still emerging.

Steuben Glass

In the comments on the previous post, Elmer pointed out this story about the formal stemware contract the State Department gave to a foreign bidder.

This is an example of the kind of thing that the local Congressman would be all over, if we had one.

How Reed Can Lose

I think Reed is a lock to win this race, but the past couple of days of Republican behavior (by others, not Reed), makes me think that there might be an opening for a Democrat to squeak by him. Here's how it could work:

First, Paterson needs to delay the special election as long as possible, but he needs to call one. Special election turnout is hard to get and is generally all about the base. If Democrats can motivate their base to turn out, and blanks are indifferent, a Democrat has a chance to win.

Second, we need to have more brick throwing, death threats, talk of tyranny, etc. The more the better (for Reed's opponent, not the country). Nobody likes to hear about at least 10 serious threats against Members of Congress over a fairly modest insurance reform.

Third, Reed's opponent needs to get in his face about that kind of stuff, and ask him to disown it. Here's an example:

(Those are sniper sight images.) Remember that in 2006 Randy Kuhl put out an ad showing Eric Massa targeting sniper fire at the elderly in the district. That ad came down pretty quickly. Perhaps Reed's opponent could ask him to disown this image -- which, remember, comes from a serious Republican, who was nominated to be the VP of a 72-year-old -- given the death threats, including one aimed at the children of an 80-year-old grandmother, Louise Slaughter.

Fourth, Republicans need to make repeal the cornerstone of their Fall campaign. That gives Reed no positive program to run on. Bonus points if they listen to Newt and pledge to shutdown government for two years until they regain the Senate and Presidency.

Finally, the NRCC and DCCC need to decide this race is a bellewether, and pour tons of money and ads into it. If Republicans are running on repeal, Democrats will be able to say that Tom Reed wants to re-instate insurance denials for pre-existing conditions.

If all these things happened, I wouldn't be surprised to see a close election. I don't think it's going to happen. I think the election will be won or lost on jobs, the economy and the memory of Eric Massa's shenanigans. But if Sarah and Newt are still in charge two months from now, all bets are off.

Debunking Some Talking Points

The bill isn't popular.

Pre-passage polls that showed a majority disliking the bill always had the issue of liberals who didn't think it went far enough, others who weren't well-informed about it, and some who were disgusted with the process. Now that the bill is law, early polls aren't showing a major backlash. Of course, this is an ongoing process, but the notion that Americans are going to rise up to smite insurance reform has always been a bit far-fetched. There were far more protesters calling for immigration reform in DC on Sunday than there were protesters yelling about healthcare reform.

The bill is unconstitutional and will be repealed.

Maybe, but I haven't heard many compelling specific arguments. Medicare requires a mandatory tax to fund healthcare. The government can require people to buy insurance. There's nothing radically new in the bill.

Republicans can de-fund this if they take over Congress.

Congress has never de-funded a major entitlement. And taking over Congress is a big job -- Democrats have big majorities in both Houses.

Prohibition was repealed.

That wasn't an entitlement. And people love to drink. They don't love worrying about whether they're going to have insurance if they lose their job.

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