The Fighting 29th - WNYCongress Posts cross-posted at the WNYCongress blog aggregator, which covers the 25th, 26th and 29th districts. en Leader Endorses Massa Reader Elmer sends the Corning Leader's endorsement [pdf] of Eric Massa.

It's a busy morning and there are a lot of endorsements to report. I want to single this one out not only because it is an unexpected move by a conservative paper, but also because it is almost completely issue-based. When you consider the candidates solely on the main issues of the day, the Leader argues, Massa is the most conservative.

The opinion page also includes Joe Dunning's column. In addition to being tired of political ads, Dunning highlights Kuhl's "prevent defense", asking "Is it possible to win a campaign by avoiding voters?"

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New Kuhl Ad: Blueprint The Kuhl campaign has released a new TV ad, which is embedded below:


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Leader Editorial: "Kuhl's Decision Should Damage Him Politically" Today's Corning Leader editorial [pdf], courtesy of reader Elmer, expresses the Leader's dissatisfaction with Kuhl's rejection of the WETM/Leader debate invitation.

Citing the 2006 debate where Kuhl's response on Katrina received some laughs from the audience, the Leader notes:

The question that has to be asked is, if Kuhl is shaken by a few laughing audience members, how would he react in a true crisis?

It also appears as if Kuhl is afraid to face questions he hasn't prepared for ahead of time.

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13-WHAM Will Host a Debate Sean Carroll at 13-WHAM has announced that WHAM will be taping a debate between Randy Kuhl and Eric Massa on October 10. The debate may be streamed live over the Internet, excerpts of the debate will appear on newscasts, and it will be available for viewing in its entirety on the 13-WHAM website.

October 10 was the date for the now-canceled WETM/Leader debate.

Carroll believes that this is the only "confirmed" debate between the two candidates. As of last week, the candidates were to appear at a forum in Chemung County on October 26, and at an in-studio debate at R-News on October 28. We'll see if those dates hold.

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Robo Call I just got robo-called by "Working Families Win." The call tried to tie Randy Kuhl to the current economic crisis. It said he had taken "over $300,000" from Wall Street interests, and that the policies he supported put working families retirement at risk. It also noted that Kuhl will receive "a guaranteed pension at taxpayers expense." The call ended with Kuhl's office number.

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More Requests for Apologies Joe Spector has coverage of the latest apology request in the campaign. Randy Kuhl wants Eric Massa to apologize for not noting that the reason Kuhl chose not to attend Monday night's WXXI debate was that Congress is in session starting at 6:30 p.m. next Monday.

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Massa Press Conference: Abbreviated Version Today's Massa press conference was well-attended and lengthy. Julie Sherwood at the Messenger-Post has already filed her take on both Massa's and Kuhl's press conference. My abbreviated report continues below.

Massa began by praising the recently-passed energy bill, HR 6899. Massa read the bill that passed and noted that, in addition to opening up drilling 50-150 miles offshore, it included $20 billion in tax incentives towards renewable energy and job creation. "A huge amount of that money could be captured in Western New York."

Massa addressed the question of whether that oil is accessible as follows:

The American People know that when the Good Lord set up the oil reserves, he didn't do it in a 50-mile band. Since 1988, the vast majority of the Continental Shelf has been open to drilling, and the oil companies have not drilled a single well.

Massa also noted that the bill was "incredibly comprehensive". It increases Trans-Alaskan Pipeline capacity, and bars the export of Alaskan crude overseas. It also swaps light sweet crude from the Strategic Oil Reserve, which Massa noted is the easiest to refine, with heavier oil.

In response to Bob Recotta's question whether he believes that this bill neutralizes drilling as a wedge issue, Massa contrasted the compromise inherent in the bill with the demonstrations by the Republicans on the darkened House floor. "It's one thing to stand up and [perform] a political act. It's another to find compromises in a bi-partisan effort."

As for why Kuhl voted for the bill, "Frankly, the only reason my opponent voted against it was to protect big oil tax handouts he voted for in 2005. That's a $14 billion giveaway."

Tim Mancuso from City Newspaper asked about the AIG bailout. Massa said that there's "no more clear example of more of the same or voting for change."

Rick Miller asked a number of questions about where Massa thought the bill was going. Massa was optimistic about Senate action and that there's a majority that wants the bill passed and sent to the President. He noted that Bush may choose to veto it "to protect his big oil cronies."

Miller also asked about debates. Massa pointed out that Kuhl had a fundraiser on the same day as the WXXI debate that he chose not to attend. "I cancel fundraisers when we have an opportunity to speak to the public."

Miller also asked about the Rangel issue.

Here's the bottom line. Charlie Rangel has called for an investigation of his own office, his own campaign, and himself. When there are findings of fact, we will do what is right. What I'm not willing to do is to make wild pronunciations without any basis if fact. If my opponent feels so strongly about this, he should look at who's been giving him money for years -- some are not just under investigation, they are under indictment.

Massa said "if something has to occur, trust me, I give lots of money back."

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Afternoon Opinion: Leader, Gannett Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader Editorial Page [pdf], which includes Bob Rolfe's column on Randy Kuhl's voting record, as well as a couple Letters to the Editor on the 29th race.

Reader Justin sends a link to a Joe Spector blog post on the race. It concerns Charlie Rangel, who held a fundraiser for Massa earlier this year.

Spector also posts on today's Kuhl ad and Kuhl's refusal to debate in Bath.

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Another Kuhl Ad Kuhl's latest ad accuses Massa of starting negative attacks. It's embedded after the break:

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More Debate Cancellation Coverage Reader Tom sends the Star-Gazette and Corning Leader [gif] (jump [gif]) stories on the Bath debate cancellation.

Susan Multer of the League of Women Voters is quoted in the Star-Gazette:

"It's a sad day for democracy when elected officials are unwilling to
participate in local candidate forums," Multer said. "It shows great
disrespect for the public for a congressman to take five months and a
state senator to take six weeks to tell the sponsoring organization
that they will not participate and give no reason."

Update: WETM also has a debate story.

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Bath Debate Canceled Syracuse News 10 is reporting that the League of Women Voters debate in Bath has been canceled. Both Randy Kuhl and George Winner [R-SD-53] declined to attend.

I covered this debate in 2006. Compared to the usual televised debates, it was a tea party. The League screens the questions. Kuhl was born in Bath. It's the friendliest imaginable format in a Kuhl stronghold.

I had thought that Kuhl's delay in accepting debate invitations was just political jockeying. But now it looks like he's trying to minimize his debate appearances.

At the Massa press conference two weeks ago, Eric Massa claimed that there were 10 debates scheduled in the 29th. I was skeptical about that claim, and asked his campaign to sent me a list. It turns out that ten non-partisan third parties really do want to hold Congressional debates. This includes WHAM, which has offered to post those debates on their website.

Conventional wisdom says that incumbents who are ahead in the polls shouldn't debate, because debates give your opponent legitimacy by appearing on the same stage. If there's a poll that shows Kuhl way ahead, his campaign hasn't paid for it recently. The last public poll in this race was taken on November 7, 2006, and it was pretty tight. And I doubt that there's anyone in this district inclined to listen to debates who hasn't heard of Eric Massa.

Kuhl has accepted only two of those ten debate invitations. He's stopped town hall meetings. He spent a good part of last month in Washington participating in a silly, meaningless protest that isn't even supported by his party's President or Senate. I don't know if there's a master plan underneath all this, but from where I'm sitting, it sure looks like Kuhl is simply hiding from the press and the public.

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New Kuhl Ad The Kuhl Campaign has released a new ad, where some Vets give Kuhl credit for saving the Canandaigua VA Hospital. It's embedded below:

Update: In response to commenter's questions, I asked the Kuhl campaign some questions about the commercial. According to Justin Stokes, Kuhl's spokesman, the man speaking is Ralph Calabrese. He's the head of the Veterans Advisory Group of the Finger Lakes Region. In response to the question of whether Mr. Calabrese was speaking officially, the response is "He's speaking as a veteran who worked to keep the VA open."


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Leader Column and Editorial on Massa/Kuhl Reader Elmer sends today's Corning Leader Opinion Page [pdf] with Bob Rolfe's Insider column. Rolfe mentions the Massa point that only the President can recall Congress, as well as Randy Kuhl's votes against renewable energy.

The Leader also give Kuhl and Massa a "grin" for talking about Social Security.

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WHAM-13 Story: The Art of Not Debating Reader Tom sends a story from 13-WHAM's Sean Carroll, who reports on how politicians in numerous races in the area are ducking debates. Randy Kuhl apparently initially turned down an invitation for 13-WHAM, but has since reconsidered.

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Massa Unveils Social Security Plan Syracuse News 10 has story and video about Eric Massa's social security plan. Massa unveiled the plan in a news conference in Corning. The full plan [pdf] is available from his website.

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Massa Press Conference: Deconstructing Kuhl Today's Massa press conference concentrated on Randy Kuhl's "floor speech" on energy.

Massa began by noting that "Speaker Pelosi and I do not, and did not, see eye-to-eye this Summer" about putting Congress into recess. Massa continued "I know, and most Americans who passed High School know, that you need both houses of Congress to pass a law [...] That's why I asked Randy Kuhl to insist that President Bush call Congress back into session."

Massa noted that only Bush has the constitutional authority to call Congress into session, and therefore the House protest was "nothing more than a political stunt."

Randy Kuhl wants to have a debate on the floor of the House, but he refuses to have a debate in the district [...] Why? Maybe he's afraid of being held accountable for his big-oil votes and his big-oil contributions.

Massa then went through Kuhl's floor speech. He began with this line:

This legislation is key to lowering the pain felt at the pump by investing in American made resources. There are Democrats who that think that the Republican’s all of the above energy plan caters to “Big Oil” and call those of us fighting to achieve energy independence “Friends of Big Oil.” Am I missing something?

Massa said that what Kuhl was missing was that the all of the above energy program does "nothing to stop price gouging at the pumps. It does nothing to address the unprecedented, historically obscene profits oil companies are making at the expense of working Americans."

Massa then keyed in on this passage in Kuhl's speech:
The Democrats, by not allowing a simple vote on increasing our homegrown energy sources, are forcing America to remain dependent on and beholden to foreign oil. They are increasing our addiction to foreign oil because they are not allowing us to produce American energy sources.

He pointed to Kuhl's vote against HR 6251, the "use it or lose it" bill, which mandated that current lease holders must either drill or lose their leases.

Massa also noted that Kuhl voted against renewable energy and green jobs bills 9 times, and against conservation bills 10 times.

It isn't just one bill, it's a whole series of bills where he says one thing and then does another, because he knows how hard it is for working people to follow the shenanigans of people in Washington.

Massa noted earlier that Kuhl had posed a rhetorical question, "Why would I want to debate in a remote corner of the district?" Massa said that he didn't consider Elmira, Corning and Rochester as remote corners. He went on to discuss his willingness to debate, saying that he had committed to appear in 10 debates across the district. He characterized Kuhl's changing positions on when he would commit to debates as "excuses", saying that, even though people said they got tired of debates during the primaries, they gave everyone a good sense of the issues involved in the race.

I asked Massa about the Palin nomination. He said that he found it "surprising" and wondered if someone who was mayor of a town smaller than Henrietta would be seen as experience by the American people. He said the choice "will call into question John McCain's judgment in making this decision."

I'm sure she's a nice person. I think she has extreme positions: no compromise, take no prisoners, extreme right-wing positions. That may excite a few people on the floor of the Republican Convention, but most Americans don't tilt that far right.
Update: Exile at Rochesterturning has video of Kuhl's "remote section of the district" comment.]]> News WNYCongress Wed, 03 Sep 2008 18:00:09 +0000 Rottenchester 4949 at
Eaton, Batiste Endorse Massa Two retired generals, Paul Eaton and John Batiste, attended a joint endorsement event for Eric Massa and NY-26 candidate Jon Powers. Jerri Kaiser at the Albany Project has photos of the event.

Batiste lives and works in Rochester, and he endorsed Massa last year. Eaton's last Iraq assignment was being in charge of training the Iraqi military in 2003 and 2004.

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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.

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Grins and Groans: Massa and Kuhl Reader Tom sends a scan of today's Corning Leader editorial. It's a "grins and groans" edition which takes both candidates to task.

Eric Massa gets dinged for crashing Kuhl's press conference. Randy Kuhl's groan is for misleading voters about drilling, and for failing to acknowledge that his press conference was a campaign event.

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Rumble Coverage Corning-area media covered yesterday's confrontation a bit unevenly. On television, WENY has a short story that lacks the color of yesterday's WETM account. In print, the Corning Leader has a longer story in today's edition. The Elmira Star-Gazette has a story about the press conference, but it doesn't mention the confrontation. I guess the S-G reporter left before it happened and his or her editors don't watch TV.

Evan Dawson at the 13WHAM blog compares the situation to Harold Ford's in Tennessee and wonders if it will hurt Massa. Exile at Rochesterturning thinks it's not a big deal.

Update: Syracuse News 10 also has a story.

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