Posts containing my opinion of the race.

For What It's Worth

In case it isn't obvious, I still don't think that Massa was forced out by House Democratic leadership. I think he did something wrong. And by "wrong", I don't mean that he led a double life -- I could care less about that, and I'm sure that voters would come to accept it. By "wrong", I mean that he used his power and position to harm someone on his staff.

Massa is executing a typically elaborate and well-thought-out strategy to manage his reputation and salvage what's left of his credibility. Part of that strategy is misdirection: he wants us concentrating on petty details like Rahm Emanuel's naked encounter with him in the House showers. Another part of the strategy is righteousness: he wants us to believe that he's such a proponent of single payer that he'll torpedo healthcare reform to get it.

Finally, he's trying to arouse our sympathy by (literally) waving around CAT scans. All I know about this is the direct experience I have from a close family member, who had the exact same cancer as Massa, and made a similar recovery. Suspense is just part of being a lymphoma survivor. There's no way to know whether the scar tissue in your chest is harboring cancer until it grows quite large. Unless there's more to the story, Massa's not living with more suspense today than he was a year ago. I respect Massa's battle, but my family member didn't quit his stressful job over it.

The fact remains that the only cogent reason for Massa to resign is to hide whatever he did. This will officially bury the investigation, and unofficially make any leaks include questions about the motives of the leaker.

Massa will certainly lay down a smokescreen of epic proportion in the sympathetic interviews he has scheduled tomorrow with Glenn Beck and Larry King. He's clearly angling to be a "political personality" in the mold of Sarah Palin, no matter the time, money and trust invested in him by his supporters.

The one thing that could turn this whole farce around is the appearance of the person Massa allegedly wronged. If this person speaks out, and appears honest and credible, all the bullshit that Massa's been spreading for the last 36 hours will be irrelevant.

Evan Dawson Tackles the Inconsistencies

Proving that he's a better man than me, Evan Dawson goes through the major claims in Eric Massa's radio rant. Evan also tells me that Glenn Beck's program is all about Massa today.

There's a progressive group who call themselves "firebaggers", which is a combination of FireDogLake, the blog where the movement originated, and "teabagger". This group opposes passage of the healthcare reform bill because it doesn't include provisions like single-payer. By the FireDogLake definition, Massa is a "firebagger". The rhetoric used by firebaggers and teabaggers on healthcare reform is remarkably similar, even though they oppose the bill for completely different reasons.

Also, the link for Massa's rant is now, unsurprisingly, dead. Of course, I saved a copy of the file. I've transcoded it (i.e., made it smaller and easier to download), and here it is (22MB MP3)

Was Massa Forced Out?

Commenter Up in Prattsburgh, and conservative blogger Lucy at Mustard Street ask the same question: was Massa outed by his party as payback for his independence?

Today's Joe Dunning column reports that Massa was called on the carpet by President Obama at least three times, which also might lead you to think that there might be some truth to this speculation.

I think the chances of the leadership doing it are pretty low. Every observer of this district believes that this race is now the Republicans to lose. And if we know one thing about Republican behavior in the House, they invariably vote against anything the Democrats want to pass.

So, having Massa in Congress was no treat for Speaker Pelosi and President Obama, but it was far better for them than having Randy Kuhl in the seat. Politicians don't get to be President or Speaker without an exquisite sense of which side of their bread is buttered. Massa was on the butter side for both of them.

Tea Leaves

Today's D&C race story contains this quote from a NRCC spokesman:

Officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee said they are standing by to support Reed.

“We’ve always been impressed by Tom Reed,” said spokesman Tory Mazzola.

In a few congressional districts, the NRCC has backed a second GOP candidate prior to a primary, Mazzola said.

Maggie Brooks has already met with the NRCC. I'd have expected the NRCC to keep quiet if Brooks were seriously considering a run.

That story also adds a couple possibles to the Democratic field: Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni, state Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca and Elmira Mayor John Tonello.

WGRZ reports that State Senator Cathy Young has repeated her vow not to run.

Another Democrat Emerges

Sean Carroll at WHAM has an exclusive about a possible new Democratic candidate for the 29th: Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

So far, MCDC chair Joe Morelle is floating Green's name. Green hasn't commented publicly. He could run without resigning his job as DA.

Reed's Campaign Speaks

I received the following from the Reed campaign:

Congressman Massa's resignation doesn't change anything for us. Tom committed to running eight months ago and run he will whether in a special election or general whenever the process works itself out. Seven of the eight Republican chairs have re-affirmed their support and we are moving forward.

On Wednesday, Reed had the support of "all" the chairs. I'd guess that the one chair who's dropped off the list is Monroe County's.

I'd like to see Reed stay in the race. Anyone who's read this blog knows I've given him plenty of grief, most of which is richly deserved, and I'll continue to do so if he stays in. But I don't want him in because I think his presence would give a Democrat a better chance of winning. I honestly don't think that.

My reason is simple: we need more new faces in public office. A Reed candidacy, like Massa's, shows everyone that it is possible for someone without 20 years of political dues-paying to have a real shot at being a Member of Congress. The political system in Rochester and the Southern Tier is like a union hall: you need to hang around and pay your dues for years if you want to do more than sweep the floors. That's not what the founders had in mind.

Reed had the grit to give it a shot. That deserves some respect in my book, no matter what I think of his politics.

Crickets from Reed

Until Massa's resignation, the Reed campaign was issuing a steady stream of press releases. I've been looking for Reed's take on the resignation, but I haven't heard anything from his normally very communicative campaign.

I think this Politico story gives a reason why. Maggie Brooks has been meeting with the NRCC and Chris Lee (R-NY-26). I assume Reed is being dutifully quiet until Brooks decides what to do.

I stand by my view that Reed's a better candidate than Brooks for the 29th. But, for the party, Brooks is a better candidate.

I'll bet that the scenario they're looking at is a 2012 redistricting that would give Lee a seat that includes the Southern Tier, and Maggie a seat that includes Rochester. She'd be an incumbent. with the best chance to win in a district which would inevitably have a pretty high Democratic registration advantage.

The question that remains is what Tom Reed gets out of the deal.

The Special

Based on our recent experience in NY-23, here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • There's no primary before a special election. Candidates are picked by the party apparatus.
  • Party chairs tend to do a poor job picking candidates: Dede Scozzafava being a recent example.
  • John McHugh announced his resignation June 2, and his resignation was effective at the end of September. The NY-23 election was held in November, to coincide with the regularly scheduled election. That's four months of campaigning.
  • Given all that, some speculation:

  • Reed has been endorsed by party chairs. He's the prohibitive favorite for the Republican nod.
  • Who knows what Dems will do. Massa is extremely influential in Tier politics. Even though he's resigning in disgrace, he's still an effective politician and may be able to convince party chairs that his pick, Shawn Hogan, has the best chance of winning.
  • National party organizations and the press give these elections a lot of attention. That's especially true in this cycle, when everyone's expecting Democrats to lose seats, but nobody knows how many. The NRCC and DCCC are going to spend big, and there will be a lot of national media attention.
  • At this moment, the DCCC has significantly more cash on hand than the NRCC. But the NRCC has to spend big, since they now have a good chance to win the seat. At the minimum, the DCCC will send enough to signal serious intent to the NRCC, because it's in the DCCC's interest for the NRCC to blow a wad on this election.
  • If Massa resigns effective Monday, waiting until the next scheduled election (the September 14 primary) would entail over six months of vacancy. I can't see that happening.
  • Paterson is probably on the road to resignation himself. This clouds the whole picture of timing of the special. He might announce the schedule immediately, or he might leave it to his successor.

Politico's Latest Anonymous Rumors

Politico's latest adds a little more information on Eric Massa's alleged misdeeds. According to an anonymous Massa staffer, the alleged wrongdoing had been going on for eight months.

Other than that, there's not much new. The piece mentions the dispute between Massa and Sanford Dickert, his first paid campaign manager, in 2006. Anyone who isn't familiar with that dust-up can read the summary I wrote back then.

The Democratic Field

Today's Corning Leader reports that Assemblyman David Koon is "willing to run" for the 29th seat. Koon is from Perinton, a Rochester suburb at the Northernmost end of the district.

Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan, Massa's choice for the set, is also sounding like a candidate.

Koon said he would abide by the choice of county chairs, so the Democrats may be able to avoid a primary for this seat.

Koon is not my Assemblyman, but I've watched him over the years, and he seems better than average. He has a very compelling personal story: his political career was sparked by the abduction and murder of his daughter, and he's sponsored legislation related to that crime, such as mandating the ability to locate 911 cell phone callers automatically.

Koon's son Jason is mayor of East Rochester. He won that seat in a contentious election against a crony-filled village government, and he's been cleaning house. I think that he'd be an overall plus in Koon's story, but the byzantine politics of that town might deliver up a some pseudo-scandals that could occupy the media.

I still don't think that a Rochesterian can win this seat, but Koon would be viable candidate.

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