Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Yet Another Indicator of MCDC Weakness

I've posted before about the weakness of the Monroe County Democratic Party. Its chairman, Joe Morelle, was unable to field a candidate at the top of the ticket (County Executive) in last year's election.

Now, Sean Carroll notices that Morelle was seen by Liz Benjamin, a New York City political columnist, at Sheldon Silver's victory party Tuesday night. And Exile at Rochesterturning further notes that Morelle brought some volunteers to work for Silver on election day.

Of course, Morelle also endorsed Jon Powers, who lost on Tuesday. An endorsement from Joe Morelle's MCDC is probably worth a little less than a bucket of warm piss, but that's one comparison that springs to mind.

Seven Years Later

Seven years after Pearl Harbor, two years after the defeat of fascism, at the start of the Cold War, a reporter wrote this about the newly-elected President:

He was out to get all the soft-heads, and he got them triumphantly. Unhampered by anything resembling a coherent body of ideas, he was ready to believe up to the extreme limits of human credulity. [...] If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers' expense. [...] We can only hope that he will improve as he goes on. Unhappily, experience teaches that no man improves much after 60, and that after 65 most of them deteriorate in a really alarming manner. I could give an autobiographical example, but refrain on the advice of counsel.

That's from H.L. Mencken's dispatch the day after 61 year-old Harry S. Truman won the 1948 election. At the height of his career, Mencken was more influential than Brian Williams, Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson, combined.

In 1948, if some politician's shill had the gall to ask that Mencken to treat his candidate with deference, he would have received the same treatment that Mencken gave the newly-elected President. Today, seven years after another terrible event in our country, the craven, cowering national press meekly defers when asked.

This isn't a partisan point. I don't care who asks the press to defer. I just care that they do.

Mark Your Calendars

Randy Kuhl's latest blog post is about his recent interview with John Stossel of ABC's 20/20. The subject of his interview is the Farm Bill.

Anyone familiar with Stossel's interviews might not be so quick to brag. Stossel usually a takes a skeptical, somewhat libertarian view of politics. He's death on pork-barrel spending, and he's already turned in a negative piece on the Ethanol boondoggle.

If you doubt my judgment, consider this fact. The Democrat Stossel interviewed is Shelia Jackson Lee [D-TX-18]. She's not even on the Agriculture Committee. Don't you think that some publicity-hungry committee member would have stepped forward if they though anything good could come of this interview?

More Hard Words About NY-26

This is only peripherally about NY-29, but I think the NY-26 campaign taught a lot of people some hard lessons that are applicable to most political campaigns. I'll bury my thoughts after the break for those only interested in NY-29.

Blogging from 13-WHAM

I am here at the WHAM-13 (CW-16) studios, and since there's nothing going on in the 29th, all attention is on the neighboring 26th district. So far, the highlight of the night is Evan's reference to Jack Davis' big swinging wallet.

10:05 PM - The news here is bad for both Jon Powers and Jack Davis, who proved the political adage that negative campaigning hurts your opponent and it hurts you. Alice Kryzan, a relative unknown who spent a fraction of the cash that Davis and Powers spent, apparently beat them both.

10:14 PM - Dale Volker, in SD-59, is facing a strong challenge from his Republican opponent. Kathy Konst, the Democrat endorsed by Tom Golisano's Responsible New York, seems to be winning running away.

10:20 PM - Evan was trying to get me to say that Jon Powers was a terrible, terrible, terrible candidate. I believe this, but I just can't bring myself to say it on the TeeVee. Powers' response to the War Kids Relief accusations was to essentially ignore it. For every ten press releases from the Massa operation, the Powers campaign sent out one. Powers raised 900K and I'm sure he wishes that he spent more of it.

10:31 PM - The Powers' loss probably sinks the possibility that Massa, Powers and Maffei will campaign together. Synergy is always overrated, but I thought there were some possibilities.

10:39 PM - The schadenfreude countdown begins -- we're waiting for location video of disappointed Powers supporters.

10:41 PM - Sean Carroll just ran a story that was all about the personalities in the 29th race. There are two strong personalities in the race, and they're worth covering, but Rochester media's need to cover 4 Congressional Districts often means that Rochesterians don't hear about the issues.

S-CHIP: Fight Over

Despite promises to the contrary, the House leadership has decided that it won't bring another Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) vote to the floor before the election.

If you search for S-CHIP on this blog, you'll find that discussion of an increase in funding and coverage for that program dominated the press last Fall. Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl battled over the bill with press releases and mailers. President Bush vetoed it twice, and the House failed to override those vetoes.

The S-CHIP "compromise" that finally passed at the end of last year extended the current program until March, 2009. Though it was promoted as a temporary measure, today's move by the House leadership indicates that last year's vote was a surrender, not a compromise.

S-CHIP began as a modest increase to a popular program which had some bi-partisan support (at least in the Senate). It morphed into a major ideological fight that dragged in issues of immigration and fiscal responsibility. I don't see it as a "win" for anyone. Democrats look impotent, Republicans look like obstructionists, and a huge amount of time and voter attention was wasted on an issue that ultimately wasn't solved.

S-CHIP is also a cautionary tale. Despite almost certain Democratic gains in the House and Senate, it's highly unlikely that either body will have a veto-proof majority. Unless Democrats also win the White House, we could be looking at four more years of S-CHIP style stalemate on issues of health care, energy and the economy.

The Second Campaign

I received my first glossy mailer [pdf] of the campaign yesterday, and it wasn't from Eric Massa or Randy Kuhl. Responsible New York, the political action committee founded by billionaire Tom Golisano, sent a mailer on behalf of David Nachbar, the Democratic candidate for New York Senate in the 55th Senate District.

The 55th contains the same set of Monroe County (Rochester) suburbs as the 29th district, plus some others to the west and north. The Rochester suburbs are extremely important to the Massa campaign. In the last election, about 1/3 of the votes cast came from Monroe County, and Massa won Monroe by 14 points.

Nachbar's opponent, Jim Alesi, has been in office for 12 years, about the same time that I've lived in his district. I don't recall a single serious challenge to Alesi during that time. Nachbar has the potential to mount that challenge. He's got money, is well-spoken, and has an solid business background. If he energizes Democrats in the Northern 29th, Massa's victory margin here could make it tough for Kuhl to make up the difference in the traditionally Republican Southern Tier.

Another Puzzling Advocacy Group

Judging from their ability to hold rallies, gather one thousand signatures, and to stage protests, Greenpeace is alive and well in the Southern Tier. As with most advocacy groups, the question is whether their sound and fury signifies anything productive.

The Greenpeace energy plan is heavy on solar and wind, against drilling in ANWR, and anti-nuclear. With the exception of wind, which is an important local issue, Massa and Greenpeace are pretty closely allied. Randy Kuhl's energy plan, which mentions alternative energy but puts domestic drilling in the drivers' seat, is far from what Greenpeace wants.

So why they would choose to picket Massa's office, while staging a friendly grip-and-grin with Randy Kuhl, is baffling. Massa's made a point of his availability to local groups, so presumably a Massa/Greenpeace meeting could have been scheduled fairly easily. This is an unforced error on Greenpeace's part.

In an area that already has a negative predisposition towards Greenpeace, it takes only one error to lead to more grief. The action of the Urbana town board, which used the Massa protest as a flimsy pretext for denying a permit for the harmless "Rolling Sunlight" display, demonstrates this fact.

Imagine a deft publicity campaign by an organization working to rebuild a tarnished reputation, and you've imagined the opposite of Greenpeace's actions in the Southern Tier.

The Money Story

The convention and Palin announcement have overshadowed the most important story of the month in the 29th. With a little more than two months left in the race, Eric Massa is out-raising and out-spending Randy Kuhl.

In July and August, Massa took in almost twice Kuhl's haul. He spent that money on TV ads and office staff. Massa spent almost three times the amount that Kuhl did on advertising. He has double the staff on his payroll.

Massa's fundraising was aided by a fundraiser held for him and other New York candidates by Charlie Rangel [NY-15]. He also benefits from netroots involvement via the Act Blue fundraising network.

Kuhl has relied on his standby funding channels: individuals in and around the district, and corporate PACs. About half of his haul came from PACs. He received no obvious help from his colleagues in Congress, presumably because things are tough all over.

Having and spending a little more cash than the incumbent doesn't guarantee anything, but in this district, it's a significant accomplishment that shouldn't be lost in the noise being made by the national contest.

Gannett Sidelight

The recent layoffs at Gannett seem to be showing at the Star-Gazette. Every other media outlet covering yesterday's press conference led or featured the Kuhl/Massa confrontation. Yet, reading the Star-Gazette story, one gets the impression that it was a run-of-the-mill press conference.

Comparing that story with Kuhl's press release, it's pretty clear that the S-G story was just a re-write of the release. That's pretty common practice.

What's strange is that nobody at the S-G reacted to the television coverage of the early afternoon, or even to the campaign press releases. No editor tacked on another paragraph acknowledging that the press conference didn't go as planned. I wonder if that would have happened before Gannett's recent layoffs.

Because the S-G allows comments, the commenters are now filling in the gaps in the story. Well, somebody has to do it.

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