Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Nachbar's New Campaign

David Nachbar, who briefly ran for the Democratic nomination in the 29th, has announced his candidacy for State Senate in District 55. That office is currently occupied by six-term Republican Jim Alesi. As you can see in Rochesterturning's post on the announcement, a large part of SD-55 is in the 29th District.

Having a well-financed challenger who will run an serious campaign is probably a benefit to Eric Massa, and the Massa campaign has already announced Massa's endorsement of Nachbar.

Update: Rochesterturning has a lengthy interview with Nachbar.

Greenpeace and Coattails

There was a Greenpeace rally in Elmira yesterday, with the goal of having participants write Randy Kuhl and Eric Massa to ask them to make global warming an issue in the election.

Wait -- there's a Greenpeace chapter in the Southern Tier?

In other news, the Rothenberg Political Report has an item on John McCain's efforts (or, more correctly, lack of effort) in the recent special Congressional elections. According to their analysis, McCain is likely to campaign for candidates only in Presidential battleground states. New York won't be one of those states, so Randy Kuhl can't bank on a campaign appearance by McCain in the 29th.

More Gas

Following up on yesterday's story, WENY asked Randy Kuhl about his plan to lessen the impact of higher gas prices. Kuhl says he supports a federal gas tax holiday and also supports a $6,000 tax credit for those who buy a fuel-efficient car.

The gas tax holiday has been discussed earlier here and here. It just won't work.

The tax credit for buying a more economical car might actually be effective. But with the rising deficit, I'd like to see how it will be financed, and I'd also like to see a study showing that a tax credit is a significantly better incentive than the rising price of gas itself. Maybe $4/gallon gas by itself will spur people to buy smaller cars.


Exile at Rochesterturning notes that Randy Kuhl is touting a "clean" version of the new GI Bill, and wonders if Kuhl really thinks that nobody will notice his earlier opposition to the real GI Bill. There's little chance of that, because there's no antidote to Kuhl's position on this issue.

Kuhl has allied himself with a narrow majority of the Republican House that opposes Senator Jim Webb's version of the GI Bill. The original version of Webb's bill has 300 co-sponsors in the House. The latest version passed in the Senate last week by a 75-22 vote.

Kuhl has not explained his vote against the GI Bill, so one has to assume that he agrees with Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, who have offered a less generous version of Webb's bill. McCain and Graham's position is that Webb's GI Bill, which allows full benefits after three years of service, will hurt recruiting. After three years, a soldier has probably served two full tours in Iraq, but that's not enough for McCain, Bush and Kuhl -- their shared vision of a long-term US presence in Iraq requires a penurious GI Bill that gives soldiers an incentive for multiple re-enlistments.

Kuhl's present vote on the Iraq supplemental, and his vote against an amendment adding the new GI Bill to that supplemental, make stuff like his most recent blog post sound like so much hot air. He talks of troops "working tirelessly to protect and defend our rights", but he's allied with an administration that begrudges them a .5% extra pay raise. A good number of his Republican colleagues have abandoned Bush on this one, and so have some conservatives, but Randy's chosen to stay the course.

Kuhl Campaign Site Re-Emerges

The Kuhl campaign has re-launched the Kuhl for Congress site. Some new features include a blog, and the ability to contribute via credit card.

The issues page is similar to the old blog, and many of the issue statements reference events in the distant past. For example, the "War on Terror" section references Kuhl's 2006 trip to Iraq as a recent one.

Amo's Massachusetts Earmark

Reader Paul sends stories from Boston concerning one of Amo Houghton's last earmarks. Houghton, who held the 29th seat for nine terms, is one of the honorary chairs of Randy Kuhl's re-election campaign.

The Boston Globe story reports that Amo inserted a $50K earmark into a water appropriations bill to study the feasibility of connecting a pond in Massachusetts to a nearby harbor. The pond happens to cause flooding of nearby properties, one of which is owned by Houghton's wife. The study earmark was followed by another earmark of $728K by Democrat Bill Delahunt (MA-10), who represents Cohasset. The Corps of Engineers also budgeted $320K from a discretionary fund for the project.

The Boston Herald column includes a picture of the property. A later Herald piece reports that the town of Cohasset rejected the project.

My impression of Amo Houghton is that he's an honorable man, and I take him at his word when he says that he believes this project is in the best interests of the area. But the problem with earmarks is that even a well-intentioned, bi-partisan earmark is often bad policy. Clearly, the Cohasset voters think the project isn't essential. So it's unlikely that it would have been funded if Amo hadn't been able to use his connections to secure federal funding.

Republican Disarray

This was an interesting week for political junkies.  The Republican loss in Mississippi was, to use Republican Minority Leader John Boehner's favorite term, a "wake-up call".  

Responding to that call, Tom Davis, former head of the NRCC, sent out a sobering memo, full of stuff like this:

Given the strong intensity to the President and the Republican brand, turnout generation is much easier for Democrats than Republicans.


No where is the Democratic surge more demonstrable than in the fundraising totals.


Immigration pits our business wing against our grass roots wing. The War has turned many educated, affluent Republicans away. Spending priorities, scandals, gas prices and home value declines leave little for Republicans to be enthused over, particularly when our ability to draw issue lines and force choices by Democrats is frustrated by House Rules, inarticulate and unfocused national leadership and finger pointing.


Our message is stale. Without a clear change in direction, Congressional Republicans can count on more Louisiana’s and Illinois’s. If we were a business that had been losing market share, would we simply wait for our competition’s product to blow up? Or, would we re-tool, innovate and make the appropriate changes. They don’t like our dog food. They may not like the Democrat’s either, but for now, and through November, they appear to be buying it.

With that in mind, the House GOP rolled out a new set of talking points.  Apparently immune to irony, their site features a picture of six-term Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) flanked by nine-term Minority Leader John Boehner and six-term Minority Whip Roy Blount, with a caption saying "Washington is broken".  

Randy Kuhl, who seems willing to repeat any of his leadership's talking points, dutifully rolled out a press release announcing a "Fix Washington" project.   Kuhl will be soliciting ideas from constituents on legislation to fix DC with a new form on his website

In other words, Tom Davis tells House Republicans that they need a "clear change in direction".  Randy Kuhl responds with a better way to write your Congressman.  I don't think that's the kind of change Davis had in mind.

Three Sticky Iraq Votes

Randy Kuhl voted on three Iraq funding amendments yesterday. All of those votes will probably come back to haunt him this fall.

First, Kuhl voted present on the main funding amendment as part of a Republican protest against the way Iraq funding was brought to the floor. The Republicans were trying to show that a majority of Democrats opposed war funding. That amendment failed, which means that the whole bill must go back to the Senate for a re-tool.

Second, Kuhl voted against an amendment that would ensure, among other things, that all units were mission capable, that the US would not fund permanent bases in Iraq, and that all interrogations follow the Army Field Manual (i.e., no torture). This amendment passed.

Finally, Kuhl voted against a third amendment, which contained a hodge-podge of appropriations, including a provision that would fund the GI Bill via a 1/2% tax increase on those making over $1 million in income. This amendment garnered 32 Republican votes.

More information on all these votes is available from the House Rules Committee site.


WHAM13 has just posted an excellent special report on Ethanol. Money quote:

Here are the facts: The net energy contribution of corn ethanol is debatable, the environmental consequences of devoting more land to corn are clearly negative, ethanol subsidies are draining the federal treasury during a period of fiscal distress AND we’re adding to the burdens of the world’s poor. Why do we persist? We need only look at agricultural-industrial complex to find the answer—agribusiness (which now includes biofuels investors in our own state), farmers (large and small), farm state voters and their representatives in Congress, and USDA are driving this policy. Consumers, both here and abroad, and taxpayers outside the farm belt are simply outgunned.

Ethanol is a great example of dysfunctional bi-partisanship. Food processing interests like ADM loved ethanol because they could build new factories to create it from corn. Farmers liked it because it gave them a market for their surplus corn. With the family farmer and ag industry on board, both Democrats and Republicans funded ethanol for years because it appeased two interest groups. It didn't matter that corn-based ethanol was a energy-wasting dead end. Now, we have poor people starving in part because of our decision that funding ethanol was a harmless boondoggle.

Yesterday and today, a couple of progressive blogs (The Albany Project and Rochesterturning) lauded the new Farm Bill because it includes big handouts for New York farmers. This is short-sighted. In a time when we're facing record deficits, both Republicans and Democrats have come to a Farm Bill "compromise" where interest groups loyal to either party get big handouts. Our children will pay for those handouts, just as we are all paying higher food prices today, in part because of similar ethanol "compromises" in the past.

House Passes Veto-Proof Farm Bill

Randy Kuhl was one of 100 Republicans who voted for the Farm Bill yesterday. Though the bill is under veto threat from the White House, strong bi-partisan support means that any veto will be overridden by the House and Senate.

Randy Kuhl expressed his support of the bill in a floor speech lauding a bill that "aptly includes the interests of all agricultural regions in the country." Here's an example:

Traditional commodity subsidies for crops like cotton, rice, wheat and corn remain largely untouched in the new bill. The bill includes a new $3.8 billion permanent disaster payment program, deemed particularly generous for weather-stricken growers in states like Montana and the Dakotas.

Rice, Wheat and Corn prices are at all-time highs. The subsidy income limit remains at $1.5 million for married couples. The subsidy component of this bill is nothing more than a handout to a group that is currently prospering.

Though farm bill subsidies get most of the attention, two-thirds of the cost of the bill is for Food Stamps, or as they will now be called, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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