Posts containing my opinion of the race.

Act 1 is Over

Randy Kuhl voted for the version of the Iraq appropriation which contained only non-binding benchmarks [pdf]. Though this bill is being portrayed as a "loss" for the Democrats, I'm not convinced that it was a great victory or defeat for anyone. Instead, it was the first act in a drama, and the stage is set for a very interesting September for Randy Kuhl and other Congressional Republicans.

My analysis of this vote and the state of debate starts with a simple proposition: George Bush has no intention of ending the war in Iraq during his term as President. I don't think that's too controversial, and if you accept it, the corollary is that the interests of Bush and the interests of his party begin to diverge toward the end of 2007. At that point, Bush will be more concerned about his legacy, and his party will be more concerned about the next election.

If you accept the premise that Bush will find whatever excuse he needs to keep troops in Iraq, and the notion that this position isn't in the best interests of the Republican party, then the most recent historical political parallel for the way that Congress and the President will interact isn't Vietnam -- it's Watergate*. During the Watergate crisis, Nixon was able to stay in office as long as he had the support of his party. Even though Democrats had been calling for his removal for years, his resignation was precipitated by quiet words from respected Republican leaders like Barry Goldwater. Similarly, Bush will only begin compromising on Iraq when he gets the word from key Republicans that the votes aren't there to sustain the war.

So, instead of looking to Democrats to somehow leverage their tiny majority into a veto-proof winning bill, we should be looking for fault lines within the Republican caucus. Viewed from that perspective, the Democrats' loss in yesterday's vote was their inability to craft a bill that would find a split between absolute Bush loyalists and more centrist Republicans. Part of that failure was due to timing: Republicans can wait until Fall to see how Iraq is doing before getting serious about their future. But part of it was probably due to mediocre leadership and the desire of the Democrats to get troops funded before Memorial Day.

Even though the Democrats were unable to find a crack in the first act of the war-ending drama, the fault line is there. Jim Walsh (NY-25) will be one of the first Republicans to crack. I think Randy Kuhl is made of sterner stuff, but I will be surprised if he isn't one of the Republicans who ultimately votes for a bi-partisan bill that will end the war.


* I'm not drawing a parallel between the corruption of the Nixon administration and the Bush presidency. My point is solely about the politics of how party members in Congress turn against their president.

Kuhl and Gitmo

According to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) press release, I should be upset with Randy Kuhl for not immediately denouncing President Bush's threatened veto of H R 1585, the 2008 Defense Appropriation. The DCCC claims that Bush wants to veto the bill because the increases in troop pay and survivor benefits are too high. If you want to go down that rathole with the DCCC and Rep. Kuhl, this story will take you there.

I'd rather not engage in a silly debate, so I'm ready to stipulate that both Kuhl and the DCCC are 100% grade-A all-American troop supporters of the first rank -- but only if they promise to stop arguing about who "supports the troops". Kuhl's constant repetition of that phrase is a poor substitute for a real defense of his continued support of the Iraq war. The DCCC's usage is worse, because it is textbook case of letting the other side frame the debate by using their language. The DCCC is apparently unwilling to challenge Republicans on the substance of Iraq, so instead it focuses on whether we should raise soldiers' pay 3% or 3.5%.

Both sides are doing the public a disservice. While they're slinging platitudes and arguing over minutae, they fail to address the real issues in the war on terror. One of those issues, Guantánamo, is finally being addressed in H R 1585, no thanks to Randy Kuhl.

The House version of the 2008 defense appropriation included an amendment [pdf] asking the Department of Defense to identify and transfer all prisoners from Guantánamo Bay by the end of the year. Randy Kuhl voted for H R 1585, but against the amendment, which ended up in the bill anyway.

The plain fact, as documented by the UN [pdf], is that the US has used Guantánamo Bay as a way to circumvent the Geneva Convention, to torture inmates, and to delay the release of some prisoners who are probably innocent of all charges against them. Gitmo will go down in history with other US overreactions in times of war, and it needs to be cleaned up.

I think that last paragraph is completely uncontroversial, but unfortunately a lot of pundits and politicians continue to defend Guantánamo. I would ask anyone who agrees with those opinion makers to imagine what they would call a place like Guantánamo if it were located in Castro's Cuba instead of on our base there. What would we call a facility in a communist country where people can be held indefinitely without trial, threatened with dogs, and made to endure sleep deprivation and other forms of "soft" torture? I don't think "gulag" is a hysterical term for such a place.

A strong country dedicated to a long fight against Islamic fundamentalist extremism does not need Guantánamo Bay. We are smart and tough enough to treat prisoners humanely while we fight a war. To do anything less is profoundly un-American, since it denies the principles upon which our country was founded.

Many Democrats and most Republicans have been afraid to challenge the administration on its handling of prisoners because they are afraid of the same kind of demagoguery that is behind "support the troops". That's why, years after Guantánamo should have been shuttered, only four Republicans voted for closing Gitmo, and 15 conservative Democrats voted against.

If the DCCC were interested in real issues, they might have highlighted Kuhl's vote against the Guantánamo amendment. If Kuhl really wanted to do something to "support the troops", he could have voted with a few of his colleagues to close Gitmo. Instead, we get inane press releases from both sides.

How Effective are Third-Party Ads?

A reader who has some access to media buy figures in the 29th wrote to question the effectiveness of third-party media campaigns in the district. Pointing out that the most recent campaign will air 250 ads this week in Rochester, and none in Corning or Elmira, this reader argues that the ads end up being a "media splash" that won't really make an effective impression on area residents.

Though I wasn't able to independently confirm those numbers, the publicly-available information on April's anti-war ad indicates that the initial buy for that campaign was even smaller: 120 ads. These are $10-20K buys, far less than the hundreds of thousands spent for the seemingly constant ads we saw during the last election.

Since these ad campaigns are small, I think two conclusions can be drawn from the attention they've been given in blogs and in the mainstream media of the 29th. The first is that this reader is right: the media splash accompanying the ad campaigns is probably seen by more people than the ads themselves. This is especially true for the most recent ads, because Batiste's firing from CBS news gave the story a second day of life. The second conclusion is that the ads probably won't significantly impact attitudes about the war in the 29th. There just aren't going to be enough eyeballs seeing the ads for them to have a mass effect.

Though the ads themselves won't change attitudes, I think the Batiste story, which stands on its own apart from the ads, is still an important one. Batiste is making a principled stand, and it's hard to dismiss him as either uninformed or a partisan.

The Breaking Point

I agree with claim that Randy Kuhl is "close to breaking with the President on Iraq". But what does that mean?

My take is that Kuhl (and Jim Walsh and a number of other Republicans) will become part of a compromise that will lead to the beginning of a withdrawal after September, or perhaps even earlier. I base this on a pretty basic analysis of the factions in this debate.

There are four broad groups of opinion on Iraq in Congress, which can be roughly characterized as follows:

  1. The No-Compromise Anti-War Faction: This group has been vocally opposed to the war since it began. They won't vote for any kind of funding for war, even with strings attached. Because of their position, they've essentially isolated themselves from the debate and ensuing compromise that will end the war. Such is the irony that defines the existence of Dennis Kucinich: on the rare occasions when he's right, he's right too soon, and resented for it.
  2. Get Out Sooner Pragmatists: This group might have voted for the war, but they've decided that the war just isn't getting us anywhere. This group favors some form of deadline-setting now, which will lead to an orderly withdrawal over the next few months. The vast majority of Democrats are in this group. They recognize the risk that the Iraqi government will collapse upon pullout, but they think this collapse is inevitable anyway and isn't worth sacrificing more lives.
  3. Wait For September Pragmatists: This group is composed of those who want to judge the effects of the surge, and who plan to get out after that. They believe that the surge will buy some breathing room for the Iraqi government to come to terms on some of the most sticky federalist issues, but their patience with the Iraqis is nearing the end. This group is composed of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats who understand that an open-ended commitment in Iraq will be damaging to the country (and, in the case of Republicans, deadly to the Republican party). Though he still uses the rhetoric of a Bush loyalist, John Boehner may have been hinting that he's in this group during his appearance on Fox News last weekend. Unless the Petraeus report in September is all roses and sunshine, this group will vote for withdrawal in the Fall.
  4. No-Compromise War Supporters: This is the position of the Bush Administration and its loyalists. Members of this group are comfortable with rhetoric containing terms like "victory" and "completing the mission". Like the no-compromise Democrats, this group risks irrelevance because their position is out of sync with reality in Iraq.

I don't think this analysis is anything more than conventional wisdom, but notice one thing: group (2) and group (3) merge into one after September. At that point a large majority of Congress will be comfortable supporting deadlines in Iraq. In other words, September is the nominal beginning of the end of the Iraq War.

Randy Kuhl has toned down his war rhetoric lately. His stock response to anti-war ads had contained "white flag" rhetoric. Kuhl's response to the VoteVets ad is a much more sedate, though part of that might be because it's just not a good idea to use surrender rhetoric against a retired general who led troops in combat. No matter, I think that he's going to pivot in September, and I think he'll do so in part because position (3) will become the majority Republican view.

The interesting question is whether (2) and (3) can move closer, sooner. VoteVets is betting that they can change a few minds in the third group, Randy Kuhl among them. Those who argue with VoteVets' timing probably believe that the surge should be given time to accomplish its salvage mission. Those who think VoteVets are on-track probably believe that the surge is more of the same solution that hasn't worked before.

I think that the VoteVets ads are worth a try. Though the Septemberists' strategy is internally consistent, it's hard to maintain in the face of continuing bad news from Iraq coupled with evidence of strain on the Armed Forces at home. Jim Walsh is clearly running scared, and for good reason: defending an arbitrary deadline is brutal business. With the country badly wanting to close this chapter, the urge to hasten the inevitable end will become ever more seductive to politicians who want to keep their jobs.

Kuhl Supports Benchmarks?

During his Thursday press conference, Randy Kuhl claimed that he's in favor of benchmarks in Iraq. As reported here earlier, the benchmark provisions of H R 1591 seem like the least objectionable part of that bill. Those benchmarks put pressure on the Iraqi parliament, which is planning a two-month summer recess even though few of their legislative goals have been accomplished.

So does this mean that Kuhl would support a version of H R 1591 with benchmarks but without withdrawal deadlines? Probably not. The benchmark bill that Kuhl cosponsored, H R 1062, requires the President to report progress in Iraq to Congress. But the bill includes no penalty if the Iraqis don't meet the benchmarks. In contrast, H R 1591 holds back half of Iraqi reconstruction funding until benchmarks are met.

Kuhl claims that "[t]he bill allows us to, if they don't meet the benchmarks, remove [...] support". Since there's no funding language in the bill, I think that claim is a stretch at best, and intentionally misleading at worst.

The Nachbar Negatives

Today, commenters on this blog and on Rochesterturning have been eviscerating the Nachbar candidacy. I agree. Nachbar's candidacy, if pursued, will be a disaster for the Democrats in the 29th. I say this knowing only a little bit about Nachbar, but I would say it even if he were the second coming of Christ fused with the ghost of JFK presented in the corporeal shell of Barack Obama.

I agree with those who say that a candidate from the North can't win for structural reasons. More importantly, a wealthy candidate from Pittsford is even more surely doomed to fail in the primary as well as the general election. The reasons for this encompass both pride and pragmatism.

Unlike Monroe County, where the local newspapers barely cover any Members of Congress, the Southern newspapers are all over their representative. In addition, Kuhl is often the featured speaker at important events, like commencement exercises. Replacing a local resident who's in touch with the needs of the Southern Tier with an executive from Monroe County (someone whose knowledge of that part of the district might be limited to a couple of winery tours) would be a huge blow to the pride of people in the South. It would be tantamount to losing representation.

More pragmatically, someone who lives in the Southern Tier is well-acquainted with the needs of that part of the district, which are quite different from those of the North. Let's begin with agriculture. Though this certainly isn't Massa or Kuhl's strong point, both have spent years (or decades, in Kuhl's case) listening to farmers. Nachbar and his wife have built a horse barn on their property, but I doubt that he's going to resonate with farmers. Nor is his experience in upper-middle-class Pittsford prepared him to understand the issues of the relatively poor Southern 29th. The towns in that part of the state are hurting. Unless they're represented by someone who lives in their area, the residents of the Southern 29th will fear that their representative will focus too much time and attention on the needs of the relatively wealthy Northern suburbs.

For Southerners, the presence of an hard-working Congressman who understands their needs is absolutely critical to the well-being of their part of the state. Instead of Republicans crossing over to support Massa, as we saw in 2006, we'll see Democrats pulling the Kuhl lever in the highly unlikely event that Nachbar makes it to the general election.

Now let's look at the pernicious influence of Louise Slaughter in all of this.

Louise Slaughter clearly doesn't like Eric Massa. I have yet to see anything more than the most perfunctory endorsement of Massa from her. Louise didn't campaign last election because of a case of the shingles, but her office didn't work for Massa either. Louise pushed Nachbar in 2006, and he wisely withdrew in the face of Massa's quality candidacy. In 2008, apparently Nachbar and Slaughter have decided that announcing early is a wise strategy, and it is: their Machiavellian scheme will prevent Massa from doing any major fundraising and choke off his campaign for a solid year.

By declaring herself for Nachbar, Slaughter will freeze a lot of the national money that would have otherwise have come Massa's way. As the chair of the powerful House Rules committee, Louise is a person that potential donors won't want to cross. So, instead of sending Massa some coin, those donors will either stay out or support Nachbar. It really doesn't matter, since Nachbar has enough money to self-finance the primary. Massa hasn't cashed in millions of B&L stock options, so the effect of the Nachbar announcement on his campaign will be debilitating.

Massa's dead right when he says that $3 million is what it's going to take to win the 29th. The Nachbar candidacy, with Slaughter's support, will effectively deny him that kind of money. Whether or not Massa wins the primary (and he will win it), Nachbar's candidacy will hobble Massa's effort in the general election. Massa's fundraising goal can only be achieved with a two-year effort, and without money, Massa is a sure loser.

This seems completely bloody obvious to me, yet it seems to escape a wily politician like Slaughter. Why? The simple answer is that Louise Slaughter has no reason to understand the North/South dynamic in the 29th. She's completely out of touch with party leaders and party rank-and-file in the Southern Tier. Her focus is on Rochester and its ring suburbs. It's natural that she'd look to consolidate her power in Monroe County by hand-picking a protégé.

No politician is immune to the arrogance of power, and this move reeks of it. For those of you who watched the 2006 election closely, consider this equation: David Nachbar is to Louise Slaughter as Tammy Duckworth was to Rahm Emanuel.

Before leaving the topic of Louise, I want to deal with a comment Bud made earlier today. He noted that Louise's choice of Nachbar indicates that the "Washington establishment considers Massa a loser". I'd like to hear the reasons behind that, if Bud is interested in sharing them. I certainly agree that Slaughter risks leaving that impression. But I think the real truth here is that the establishment senses that Massa is a man who can't be controlled. When the Democrats were desperate in '06, they were willing to hold their noses and tolerate rebels like Massa (or James Webb). Now that they have the reins back, those type of mavericks aren't to the taste of the entrenched Democratic powerbrokers. They want someone who won't buck when the saddle is cinched up. Massa is not that man.

Finally, let's examine the impact of this announcement on Randy Kuhl, the man who's celebrating his second birthday, Christmas, New Year's and July 4th today. After performing cartwheels in his House office, Randy will bide his time until after the 2008 primary, which is exactly the strategy he's wanted to follow since the day after the 2006 election. Randy will love watching Massa and Nachbar argue over bullshit like which one wants troops out of Iraq faster. Every minute of primary coverage is a minute where Massa is unable to stick it to Kuhl. Kuhl will exit the primary season tanned, rested and ready to spend his enormous campaign chest on obliterating Massa over the airwaves of the 29th.

David Nachbar's candidacy represents the worst in insular party politics. I hope he comes to his senses and pulls out, but I fear that Louise's hand-picked candidate will be in it for the long haul.

What About Gates?

Shamar Patterson, a 16-year-old boy, was killed two weeks ago, allegedly by members of a loosely-knit gang, the "Mafia Assassins". Though he was killed in Rochester, Shamar was a resident of Gates, a town at the very northern tip of the 29th. Shamar and his alleged killers had once been schoolmates at Gates-Chili High School. Shamar's mother lives in Gates, no doubt in part because of the quality of the schools: Gates-Chili has over double the graduation rate of the neighboring Rochester city school district.

In yesterday's press conference about a $2.5 million grant, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales mentioned gang violence in the Crescent, a high-crime area of Rochester. He pointed out the good work being done by Operation Ceasefire, a joint anti-gang operation between the City of Rochester and the Monroe County District Attorney. No mention was made of the hometown of the victim and the offenders.

Also conspicuously absent from any of the proceedings was Congressman Randy Kuhl. Kuhl, whose office memorializes every cent that comes the way of any town in the 29th (such as the recent $6,557 grant to the Rushford Fire Department), apparently wasn't involved in getting $2.5 million for a problem that threatens the lives of people in his district. I would think Kuhl would want to be part of the efforts to keep gang violence out of Gates. I'm sure his absence was mainly due to the Rochester focus of Gonzales' visit, but I can't help but wonder if part of the reason is that Gonzales is political kryptonite.

Who's Waving the White Flag?

As expected, Randy Kuhl voted against on the revised emergency supplemental appropriation which would mandate an withdrawal from Iraq beginning in either July or October, depending on war progress. President Bush will veto this bill, and then a compromise will ensue. During the debate over the compromise, I expect Randy to repeat some of his favorite talking points: he will "support our troops no matter what" and he's not ready to "wave the white flag of surrender".

Ignoring for the moment what "supporting the troops" really means, let's look more closely at one of the lesser-publicized parts of the bill [pdf]: the restrictions on the Iraqi government. In Section 1904 (f) of the bill (reprinted below after the break), funding is restricted unless they Iraqis complete a laundry list of items, including distributing oil revenues, scheduling elections, and allocating funds for reconstruction. In short, Congress wants the Iraqis to do what's been promised for four years.

In a war where the next few months are crucial, and where our troops occupying the country are facing an enemy that finds ever more insidious ways to blow them up, expecting the Iraqi government to make a few hard compromises seems only fair. Yet it sounds like the Iraqi Parliament itself is ready to wave its own white flag. At this critical time, and with no resolution reached on the main issues that divide the factions in the government, the Parliament is still planning to take its two-month summer recess.

If this provision of H R 1591 doesn't survive the veto and compromise process, there's no hope at all for a resolution in Iraq during our lifetimes:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 50 percent of the funds appropriated by title I of this Act for assistance to Iraq under each of the headings ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ and ‘‘International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement’’ shall be withheld from obligation until the President has made a certification to Congress that the Government of Iraq has enacted a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis; adopted legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections, taken steps to implement such legislation, and set a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections; reformed current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws; amended the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in Article 137 of such constitution; and allocated and begun expenditure of $10,000,000,000 in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

Immigration Facts Among the Fantasies

This morning's Democrat and Chronicle featured two op-eds by experts discussing H R 371, the "AgJobs" bill. This bill creates a new class of non-resident workers, who will receive "blue card" status. Workers in the country illegally will be eligible for blue cards. Once a blue card is obtained, the worker may have his status promoted to "green card" or permanent resident status after five years if certain conditions are met.

Randy Kuhl is one of 28 cosponsors of this bill. I've already discussed the political implications of Kuhl's reversal of his earlier opposition to AgJobs, as well as the response by conservative columnist Bob Lonsberry. Today, I want to take a closer look at one issue raised by Lonsberry and peripherally in the op eds: could Americans be doing these jobs?

James Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, opens the issue with this statement:

Our industry is wholly dependent on a migrant work force. Local laborers are uninterested or unavailable to work on farms; migrant laborers are eager to help us harvest the crop in the fall. Many seasonal farmworkers can earn more than $15 per hour, with housing provided.

The counter-argument to this position, raised by Lonsberry, is:

Forget this crap about illegals doing the jobs Americans won't do. Yes, welfare has gotten rid of most entry-level and low-skill American workers. But the reason farmers don't get local labor is because they don't pay enough. When an hour of hard manual labor involving a fair amount of specialized skill pays less than an hour of salting the fries at McDonald's you can't expect people to line up to work on your farm.

To evaluate these positions, let's first bring a few facts to bear. According to the Department of Labor, the average farm worker earned $7.25 per hour in 2001-2002, the last year when statistics were reported. Those paid by the piece averaged $8.27 per hour. During the same year, the average worker in "Leisure and Hospitality" earned roughly $8.57 per hour. "Retail Trade" workers made about $11.29. The overall average was $14.54, and construction workers made $18.00. So, Lonsberry is partly right: doing farm labor pays a little less, on average, than salting fries (a hospitality industry). It also pays a lot less than other relatively unskilled jobs (retail) and a whole lot less than other jobs that may involve a lot of manual labor (construction).

By the way, the $15 hourly wage cited by the Apple Farmers' Allen must be at the high end of the spectrum. Hourly wage growth since 2001-2002 was 15%. If farm wages grew at the same rate as other wages, the average farm worker doing piece work probably makes about $9.50, a far cry from $15/hr. I assume Allen's qualifiers ("Many" "can earn") signify that the average farm worker doesn't make that kind of coin. The finding that 30% of farm workers had family incomes below the federal poverty guideline in the most recent survey makes me even more skeptical about the $15 claim.

So, it looks like Lonsberry is right: farm jobs don't pay a competitive wage. But wages aren't the only thing that make jobs attractive. Let's dig a little deeper into the demographics of farm work.

According to the 2002 survey, the average age of farm workers was 33. Half of the farm workers surveyed were under the age of 31. Seventh-nine percent of the workers were men. Over half (57%) left their families to work. Why is that? Part of the reason is the flow of work:

The 13 million estimated migrant workers in the United States follow three general streams. In the East, workers begin in Florida and travel up through Ohio, New York and Maine, following crops that range from citrus to tobacco to blueberries. The Midwestern stream begins in Southern Texas and flows north through every state in the MidWest. Workers in the West begin their season in southern California and follow the coast to Washington state or veer inland to North Dakota.

This brings up another important, obvious point: farm work is seasonal. There's a tiny window of time where the farm worker is able to pull down $9.00/hr. The logistics of getting the right number of workers to the right place at the right time are difficult. That's why immigrant farm workers who perform harvest-related tasks tend to be employed by labor contractors. Someone needs to coordinate the movement of "follow the crop" farm laborers so they arrive when they're needed.

So farm work is seasonal, and farm workers have to migrate to stay employed. But it's easy to imagine that each state with seasonal crops could arrange for local unemployed workers to pick the crop. Lonsberry and commenters at the Democrat and Chronicle are arguing that if we raised wages for farm workers, we might lower the number of people on welfare in the area. To understand why this won't work, we need to look at the economic impact of farm employment.

Steuben County is the Southern Tier county that spends the most on farm labor. In 2002, Steuben's farmers spent $361K on farm contract labor. It's 2007, and farm workers are underpaid, so let's pick a number that reflects inflation and the raises necessary to attract local laborers: say, $700K. Assuming that every single worker who would do contract work on Steuben farms receives public assistance, how would that $700K impact Steuben's welfare rolls?

According to the Steuben County budget, in 2007, $63 million will be spent on economic assistance. $33 million of that will go towards DSS and Medicaid alone. $700K is a drop in that bucket. When you add federal assistance to the county total, it's unlikely that $700K is even one percent of what's spent on welfare in Steuben during a year.

Conservatives of the Lonsberry stripe hate welfare and they hate illegal immigration. The idea that throwing out immigrant farm labor will open up new jobs for welfare recipients is attractive in its simplicity. Yet, as the facts show, simplicity is its only virtue. At this point, it's time to quote H. L. Mencken:

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.

A Little Moderation

The Albany Project quoted Thursday's post about the Roseland Bowl non-issue, and took exception to the last sentence of that post. I said "that's how Kuhl will get re-elected." What I should have said is "if Kuhl is re-elected, this is how he'll do it."

I don't think Kuhl's re-election is a foregone conclusion by any measure, but I do think that he's doing a pretty good job of mixing constituent service with careful moderation of his voting record. By my scorecard, he's a little over 50% at 60% in voting with the majority in the House. As the New York Times reported today, being in the minority has allowed the Republican leadership in the House to loosen the reins. In the words of Peter King (NY-3),

They don’t want to lose seats [...] They’re not pushing members to take suicidal votes or take a bullet for the team.

Kuhl has also been able to keep up his schedule of town meetings, and when he gets his name in the paper, it's generally been associated with bringing money home to the district. That's how incumbents of either party win.

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