Posts cross-posted at the WNYCongress blog aggregator, which covers the 25th, 26th and 29th districts.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

Massa Press Conference: Deconstructing Kuhl

Today's Massa press conference concentrated on Randy Kuhl's "floor speech" on energy.

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.

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.

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.

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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