Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Reed On Healthcare Reform

Reader Elmer sends a link from the Corning Leader with Tom Reed's reaction to the passage of the healthcare reform bill. It's a pretty generic statement, with no specifics.

Current Republican rhetoric is skewing towards full repeal of the bill. That won't happen. There's never been a major entitlement repealed, and it will be impossible to overturn an Obama veto until possibly 2012, since it will be impossible for Republicans to win a veto-proof majority in the Senate in 2010.

So, when Tom Reed talks about replacing the bill with smaller measures, he's talking about something that will not happen in the next three years, and will probably never happen. If this bill is like other entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security, the best that can be done is changes to the existing bill. After more than a year of predicting an apocalypse, the Republicans need to step up with a practical plan of changes that deal with the reality of the bill that the President just signed, not some fantasy world where the bill is replaced wholesale.

Slow Play

Sean Carroll has an update on the Democrats' efforts to find a challenger for Tom Reed. He hears that Democrats are slow playing the search while they wait for the Governor to declare the seat vacant.

I understand the reason that Democrats are using this strategy, but obviously it would be best for the 29th if Paterson would just declare the seat vacant and hold the election. Barring a miracle, this seat is going to be Tom Reed's for the next 2 1/2 years.

Healthcare Bill Passes

Eric Massa wasn't there to vote on it, but the main reform bill passed by a vote of 220-211 last night. Massa's vote wouldn't have made a difference either way, no matter what he said when he was flailing around and making accusations a couple of weeks ago.

Massa's Money

Eric Massa will keep most, if not all, of the money he raised and will be able to use it to fund donations to other candidates, according to this Hornell Evening Tribune story.

The story speculates about what Massa will do with the money. If I had to guess, he'll probably end up returning most of it, or donating it to charity. No politician will want a donation from Massa, it's just too tainted.

Don't Fear the Teabag

The biggest danger to Tom Reed's campaign at the moment is a replay of NY-23, a three-way Republican, Conservative and Democratic race where teabagger Doug Hoffman's challenge helped Democrat Bill Owens squeak out a win.

The Reed campaign has been quietly working to make sure this doesn't happen in NY-29. This week, they announced that Reed has been endorsed by the Chemung County Conservative Party. Reed already has the endorsement of the Monroe County Conservative Party.

By taking the #1 and #4 counties, by 2008 vote, out of play for a Conservative, Reed has gone a long way to insulate himself from a challenge from the right.

The B-Team

This morning's Corning Leader story about the Democratic field in the 29th names three possible candidates: Assembly members David Koon and Susan John, and Brighton Mayor Sandra Frankel.

Koon's name was mentioned earlier, and he seems the best of this bunch. Susan John is retiring from the Assembly, and has had major issues in the past with drunk driving charges. Sandra Frankel is the mayor of the most liberal town in the 29th. Notably absent from the list is Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

It's pretty clear that the Democrats are looking at candidates who can afford to lose. John has a state pension. Koon and Frankel aren't up for election in 2010.

Whoever is nominated will be hoping that the same lightning that struck for Tom Reed will strike twice. Reed will win in a walk over any of them after what's happened in the past week.

What Did Pelosi Know?

Reader Elmer sends a link to the Washington Post story reporting that Joe Racalto, Massa's chief of staff, reported concerns about Massa's behavior to the Director of Member Services for the House, who is on Pelosi's staff.

Racalto reported that Massa was living in a house with young male staffers, and that he was spending time alone with young gay House employees for no work purpose.

Some pundits are trying to make a big deal of the Pelosi angle, but I happened to listen to a few minutes of Lonsberry this afternoon, and he said that he needed to "give the devil his due". He thought it was pretty clear that Massa was forced out by Democrats because of his behavior.

Another point that I haven't seen made about this incident is that Massa himself said that he moved out of the house after Recalto became concerned about him living there. I don't know if that was a result of Racalto's trip to Pelosi's office, but it sounds like Racalto alone couldn't get the job done, and Massa did move out, so you connect the dots.

Massa Massages

Joshua Green at the Atlantic has on-the-record confirmation from named sources who essentially confirm the charges made by Bob Lonsberry last week. When serving in the Navy, Massa was "notorious" for making unwanted advances toward subordinates, and offering "Massa massages".

One of Green's sources for other Massa-related information is Sanford Dickert, the man Massa fired in 2006 from his campaign. One of the charges that Massa made about Dickert was a hint that Dickert tried to make a pass at Massa's then-teenage son. Green publishes a set of documents from Dickert that detail the whole affair. I read all those documents in 2006 and published this summary.

One interesting sidelight to this is the strange behavior of Dickert. In hindsight, my guess is that he knew Massa's secret and was holding it as leverage over Massa to force a quick settlement to his lawsuit. His strategy didn't work. He did prevail in the legal action, but it was a pyrrhic victory at best -- he probably paid his lawyers more than he made.

Doing the Right Thing, for Better or Worse

Philbrick at Mustard Street makes the correct observation that David Paterson's decision to call a special election as soon as possible will probably hurt Democrats.

In a narrow, political sense, I think that's true. The memory of Massa's antics will be fresh in voters' minds when then go to the polls.

Similarly, Steny Hoyer hurt his party, in a narrow sense, when he advised Massa's staff to launch an ethics investigation. This set up a chain reaction that culminated in the mess we have today.

But if Paterson didn't call an election, the 29th seat would be empty for the rest of the year, and members of both parties would resent a Democrat's decision to try to save the eat. And if Hoyer had delayed the investigation, Massa's charges could have blown up immediately before the election, causing a Foley-like scandal which affected other races.

It often seems tactically smart to avoid doing the right thing, but in both of these cases, I think the Democrats making the decision made the right choice, politically, by doing their duty.


I watched about half of Massa's Glenn Beck performance. What I saw was a lower-volume version of the Hornell call. Massa made his points in a rational way, but his story just doesn't hold together.

He wants us to believe that he knew nothing about the ethics investigation when he held his hastily-arranged press conference Wednesday afternoon.

He wants us to believe that he worked the phones for four years raising money and is now scandalized that some contributors want a quid pro quo.

And he wants us to believe that his staff members, who presumably want to have a career in politics, turned him in over a tickling contest and an off-color remark at a wedding reception.

None of this makes sense. I understand Beck apologized at the end of the show because the hour was wasted. I think he's right.

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