Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Wrap Up

-New RCCC spots on air ripping Owens...gotta drive up those negatives before its too late.
-The new Bill Owens commercial is top notch....a take-off on the Got Milk marketing campaign of the dairy industry.
-Doug Hoffman has more ads slamming Scozzafava on top of the Democrat adds doing the same. Her two opponents are playing Sink the Bismarck with the Gouverneur native. How many more torpedoes can she absorb ?
-Its almost like the Owens and Hoffman efforts are coordinated. I know they are not, but its like a perfect storm for DeDe when she sailed from the safe harbor of the 122nd.
-Makes you wonder what comes next....Big name endorsements ? I'd go for rallies the media will cover....Get them on board as your free press agents.
-Dems are crowing they will upset County Legislator Mike Behling in District 10 Their candidate is Patsy Storino......They also hope to win the open seat in District 11 with Paul Simmons against Republican Bob Ferris.
-As for the GOP- Behling says he is confident....Ferris is starting to get out and about.....and Republicans are hoping their guy Anthony Doldo can upset Jim St. Croix in District 15.
-City Council race remains quiet, with Jeff Smith expecting an open net goal, while the other two fight it out for second.
-Oh and the sleepy race of the season is for County Clerk...little said so far. Even less said in the judge race.

Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity

A little reading material for older, grizzled broadcasters who may have forgotten the good old days.
Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity

Debates ? Not !

WDT scribe Jude Seymour asks the question in this blog post, "will the candidates ever debate ?"
The answer is no, why should they ?
As a veteran trial lawyer, Democrat Bill Owens would seem a natural, but he is thought to be in a position to win with 40% of the vote and his spiffy TV spots and fundraisers with Presidents past and present are a better strategy.
Republican Diedre Scozzafava is already well known and has years of legislative experience to hone her speaking skills. But she has been testy about queries about her record and may not want to face unscripted questions.
Conservative Doug Hoffman is running a good campaign masterminded by State Chair Michael Long. He is running on the conservative brand, not on his own charisma, so he is content to avoid debates.
There will continue to be "scheduling problems."
Then there is the fourth participant. The media.
While salivating over political ad revenue in slow times, the mandarins of local media openly say to me they don't want debates and they don't want to do anything on live television.
What ? That's what you do for a living, guys and gals. Remember when moderating a debate was high honor for the anchoring class and being chosen for the panel was like getting a press award for your four-part sweeps piece on teenage obesity ?
Like most people in Watertown, I have been comfortable with a city native named McHugh representing us in Congress. DeDe Scozzafava is well known and provides much of that same comfort level.
Now there is a real chance our next member of Congress comes from a place almost four hours drive from Public Square. That's why I am going to take the time to go to a Dem dinner on Sunday to at least meet Bill Owens. If he wins, our City needs to at least have made an outreach to him. The same is true of Mr. Hoffman, and I would hope there is a chance to meet him as well.
If the media can't get a live debate on the air, could they please publish the schedules of the candidates so interested citizens can take their own time to go meet them ?
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Friday, October 9, 2009

Voting: It Should be as Easy as Possible

On Tuesday , City Council and I meet with the two Jefferson County election commissioners. The subject is making it easier to find polling places and stopping the merry-go-round moving of some polling spots that have left voters I know voting in four or five different locations in the past decade.
When I first ran for mayor in 1991 there were 30 election districts scattered through schools, armories, public buildings and churches. It was pretty convenient but we didn't need that many ED's. We reduced it to the current 18.
Then there was an ill-advised effort to remove polling places from schools, a sentiment no longer shared by election or school officials.
What better lesson in democracy and civics than for the community to vote in the schools. One goal is to get the southside polling places now in the NYS Office Building into WHS. There is talk of conslidating the whole northside into the NorthSide League building on Mill Street.
Other changes may come as well.
Anyone who has seen folks struggling against the wind to get into the SOB, or walking by one polling place to get to the one they are supposed to be at knows some changes are needed.
I applaud the commissioners and the council for trying to work on solutions that will make voting easier and more accessible.

Got Another Lecture on Letterman Today from Caller

Today on the Hotline we got into it again on the Letterman infidelities, which I know are OK with most everyone. I was reading a NY Post article about Letterman taking his longtime partner and mother of his 6 year old on trips to St. Barts and bringing his paramour along under the guise of just being a staffer. Apparently the staffer/mistress also went with the late night funnyman to his Montana ranch.
I thought it all rather disrespectful to poor old Regina Lasko, who this week is busy dodging photographers while her husband jokes about it all on air to adoring and now more numerous legions of viewers.
One listener called and said I was only critical of Dave because of his dust-up last Spring with the Palin's.
All of it is just media fodder, but there are some teachable moments in all this.
The lesson I guess to be learned is , don't get caught. Or, if you are the woman, don't date famous people unless you are prepared to deal with this.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Does Polling Suggest a Buckley Redux ?

This story contains the assertion that GOP polling data is being sat on because it shows candidate Diedre Scozzafava performing poorly against Democrat Bill Owens. There will be an effort to recreate the 1970 US Senate race won by Conservative Party candidate James Buckley........
You know the script....cranky, frustrated but motivated conservatives angry over the Rockefeller Republican appointed to fill the term of the late Senator Robert Kennedy......A run of the mill Democrat member of Congress....And the brother of conservative icon Bill Buckley running on the increasingly potent , eight year old Conservative Party.
It was the VietNam War, post Civil Rights Act, law 'n order era punctuated by the rheotoric of William Safire, delivered with dripping sarcasm by Vice President Spiro Agnew.
James Buckley couldn't win they thought...but when he started polling well, Republicans deserted their candidate and third-party candidate Buckley won.
That's the scenario, supporters of Doug Hoffman hope to reenact in 2009.
So far the Hoffman campaign is on that track, but the end game is not easy. Third party voters usually come home as the election approaches. This is one of those Jim Buckley type years and Hoffman could win....or at least challenge Bill Owens for the seat.
Thats the way American Spectator readers see this race. Its a long shot.....but for true believers, their only shot.
The American Spectator : Losing It Over Scozzafava

Bill Owens Receives Endorsement of Working Families Party

And here is the take from the Owens campaign on the WFP announcement.
Bill Owens Receives Endorsement of Working Families Party

And the Coveted ACORN Award Goes to .....Bill Owens !

The wait is over.....New York's far left Working Families Party has endorsed Democrat Bill Owens for Congress. While not a complete surprise, there had been speculation Republican Diedre Scozzafava would take the line, since she was their endorsee in previous Assembly races. Liz B. says DeDe never sought it this year.
This year the scandal ridden WFP was too toxic for DeDe and their backing would have been the final straw in her hopes to hold together moderate and conservative Republicans anxious to hold the seat but also concerned about her views on social and labor issues.
For Mr. Owens, there is little downside, since he was looking to curry favor with so-called progressives. Besides the WFP is almost always a me-too party for Dems and their radical ideologies seldom filter down to local races.
Earlier this week , those close to Scozzafava had let it be known they would not take the line....but its never over till its over.
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

Clinton Declares NY-23 a Referendum on Obama

Talk about ....pressure....Bill Clinton says our little race for Congress is now a referendum on President Obama. Lot of pressure on election day, to be sure.
This is good thinking, Mr. President. even if Mr. Obama's numbers have slipped five or six points from last fall, that still points him in the mid-40's, more than enough to win this 3-way race. Is this one of these fights where the Republicans are playing checkers and the Democrats are playing chess. ?
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

GOP pick sparks revolt on right - Print View

Yikes....There is open revolt in the, whatever happened to the days of Jacob Javits and Louis Lefkowitz when a Republican candidate could take the Liberal Line in NY......? This turmoil further focuses attention on the Working Families Party...While our local MSM do little coverage of the race in NY-23, its the subject of intense interest elsewhere. I suppose there is an argument for tacking left...taking the WFP and trying to outflank Bill Owens for the "progressive" vote.....That would write off a lot more conservative voters...but they may be lost anyway.....After all the original argument for Ms Scozzafava's nomination was her moderate views would appeal to voters in a district that voted for Barack Obama last year. It will be interesting to see what happens. The deadline to file a certificate of nomination is tomorrow.
GOP pick sparks revolt on right - Print View

More Congressional TidBits

Democratic Congressional candidate Bill Owens will be at the Sand Bay Inn in Cape Vincent this Sunday night at 6:00 PM for a $16 a head a meet n' greet dinner. Mr. Owens will be joined by Senator Darrel Aubertine and County Clerk Candidate Gertrude Karris.
Republican Congressional candidate Diedre Scozzafava got a boost this week with the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. If the NRA follows through with mailings and media buys that would help.
I just saw a new Hoffman commercial. This one introduces the candidate and touts his military service and his NRA membership. Up till now the pro-Hoffman spots have been geared at painting his opponents as too liberal.
Last night the Central Trades labor council met and after interviewing Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens, endorsed Scozzafava. Central Trades is run by Scozzafava's husband, and on Judes blog there is a good tick-tock of what happened.
And this CQ Politics article talks about the problems DeDe is having getting GOP Congressmen to back her, although she is getting backing from party establishment types like Newt Gingrich and John Boehner.
CQ Politics Special Election Candidate Squeezed From Both Sides

Obama Help Looms Large in NY-23

How important is the President Obama fundraiser for Bill Owens ?
Very important. It is a sign that internal polling shows what some observers suspect and that is that Mr. Owens is at worst competitive and at best actually winning the race.
And in the race for cash, the President is likely to raise about $400,000, maybe more, in one session. Since the ad buys so far show opponent Scozzafava is cash poor, this kind of cash will be huge.
Meanwhile, Dierdre Scozzafava will find herself in Manhattan next week to raise money. While the amounts will be smaller, Ms. Scozzafava will be tested on her views. Donors will want to know her ideas and her support for card check.....the stimulus package and possibly the health care public option may be problematic with those who write checks to GOP candidates. She could have similar problems with the 170 or GOP members of Congress, all of whom could write $2300 checks but may be hesitant, feeling she is too liberal.
As I have said, a litmus test comes with the Working Families Party nod. Ms. Scozzafava has been seeking the opinions of party leaders who likely have told her not to take it. If she takes their nomination, she is done in this race. It's that simple.
A major conservative endorsement could come October 27 when former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks to a central New York conservative group in Liverpool. If Huckabee visits the district to embrace Conservative Doug Hoffman, that means the GOP is done with DeDe, and content to see Owens win with 40% in hopes of knocking him off in 2010.
In fact whoever wins this race will have a low enough percentage to make a 2010 rematch a certainty.
The President's involvement will likely help Owens, but the race is by no means over. Scozzafava has strong constituencies out there and a friendly media in the western end of the district.
Look for the pace of the race to pick up. This is a fascinating race with national implications. And it is likely to remain close.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

President to Raise $$$ for Owens

President Obama will use his considerable fund-raising skills to help out Bill Owens Congressional campaign, but he won't be setting foot in the 23rd to do it. Mr. Obama will go where the money is....New York City to host an event.
Republican candidate Diedre Scozzafava is also attending New York City fundraisers. One Jefferson County businessman says he was invited to a $1500 a head shakedown hosted by former NYC mayor Giuliani.
Funny how everybody pooh-poohs downstaters....except when they want them to write checks.
Bring lots of cash north to help our struggling broadcasters.
Watertown Daily Times OBAMA TO STUMP FOR OWENS

Time for DeDe to Just Say No to WFP

For DeDe Scozzafava, being seen as a moderate Republican is her best hope. You know, tolerant on social issues, and more conservative on fiscal issues.
That's why no shortage of people have told her to not only not seek, but publicly repudiate the ultra-left Working Families Party.
Usually New York's small parties coupled with fusion voting mean a candidate would want to have a second, or third, line on the ballot. Some people don't want to vote on a major party line and the second line carries some level of consensus among groups outside the major parties.
The Conservative Party has endorsed lots of big spenders but generally they try to pull their candidates to the right.
The Working Families Party was supposed to be the successor to the now-defunct Liberal Party. A me-too party for Democratic candidates and a purveyor of so-called progressive values.
Indeed Ms. Scozzafava did take that line in her Assembly races, perhaps just a tip of the hat to her husband, who is a long-time labor leader.
The WFP is now mired in vote fraud scandals such as in Troy, where absentee ballots were allegedly forged.
There are numerous probes in NYC questioning means the party uses to finances its approved candidates.
The party is linked to the controversial group ACORN, and the WFP is thought to harbor Michael Moore type views about American business including a deep antipathy to the corporate world.
Also, what is the WFP? Just ask the local county chair.....well, there isn't one. The party is a close-held entity made up of a small number of ardent leftists.
In the case of Scozzafava, who is already criticised as too liberal, this line is toxic.
The WFP normally would rubber stamp the Democrat. In this case I am not so sure.
Ms. Scozzafava needs to publicly reject this line and suggest the party back Bill Owens. Merely, not signing an acceptance form is not enough.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Voting in the Dark

Member of Congress...There are 435 of them, each representing a geographic district with say 600 to 700 thousand souls. Our district is New York's 23rd and is the largest geographic district east of the Mississippi.
In four weeks many of us will go vote for a person to fill this position.
Few of us will cast an informed ballot.
In fact, none of us will.
There will be no indepth interviews, no debates, no vetting.
We are presented with three souls......In my case, I don't know two of them and no one has done anything so far to illuminate me....Even though I probably follow this stuff more closely than most.
All there is are 30 second TV spots and a bit of coverage and commentary on the Internet.
There is no news organization following the candidates every day. None of them can afford the manpower.
We don't know much about them other than they will create jobs, fight for our seniors and provide health care for all.
In this "special" election, there is nothing special. The candidates were chosen at cloistered gatherings of party poobahs with little media scrutiny.
There was no vetting and no coverage of the process other than to report the end result.
If you are content to rely on party label, God bless you.....You are good to go on November 3rd. If you feel you must think it through and vote for the best are out of luck.
As a political figure and a talk show host I have always considered myself blessed as I get to meet so many candidates in person and talk to them.
Many others have to rely solely on the judgement of party officials and news media.
It amazes me every day how many people profess allegiance to a person they have never met and know nothing about....
The gang of three may all be decent, bright people.....they might not be...but between now and November 3rd voters need to insist on knowing more.

DeDe Shakes the Manhattan Money Tree

When you are competing for Congress, the money you raise at a spaghetti dinner doesn't go far. That's why Assemblywoman Diedre Scozzafava is headed to the Big Apple to a tony Fifth Avenue address where she will collect lots of thousand dollar checks. These people don't know her, they just know they are supposed to be there. This is how it's done.
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

He's One of Us.......Said Dave Mance

Looks like Bill Owens and Doug Hoffman don't qualify to run a Darrel, He's "one of us" campaign. Long awaited financial disclosure statements show Mr. Hoffman with assets in the $5million range, including a million dollar antique car collection.
Meanwhile trial lawyer Owens racked up 3/4 million dollars last year being a lawyer plus his wheelings and dealings with MBT bank where he makes over $50K as a board member.
If elected Mr. Hoffman has a shot at making a list of the richest 50 members of Congress.....a far cry from Congressman McHugh, who made a newspaper's list of the 50 prettiest people on Capitol Hill.
Watertown Daily Times Owens, Hoffman file their financial statements

First Non-definitive, unscientific,straw poll favors DeDe

So DeDe won our straw poll on the Congressional race.
Assuming, the poll was not rife with mischief, her 60+ % showing approaches what you would expect in our area. I suspect most of the readers of this blog are in the Watertown area. I assume Mr. Owens will poll well elsewhere, and I was surprised so few people chose Mr. Hoffman
The election is just four weeks from today, although that will be an eternity to the candidates.
The special election format truncates the ordeal for candidates and voters, but we lost any kind of public vetting process. It was all in the hands of a handful of county chairs and even that proceeding was conducted in private.
For the three minor parties it's even less democratic, with no county chairs, but instead a couple of state party officials deciding.
Whoever wins will have to do it all again next year, when primaries are a possibility. Then redistricting ocurrs and it will be a new game in 2012.
We will do another poll in a few days.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Moments

A 59 minute City Council meeting tonight...Not a lot going on...debate over whether to bond or not for a crane at the hydro plant. Bit of fester over the bid process but all agreed the improvement needs to be made.
Tomorrow at 11:15 its German flag raising at City Hall and next Monday its the Italian flag for Columbus Day. Thursday morning we honor retiring Library Board member Marlene Casey for years of service.
Council OK'd the contract to allow the arena concession stand to open.
Councilman Burto was absent after his wife was in a late afternoon traffic accident. All is well, but for some bumps and bruises.
Council candidate Teresa Macaluso was at the meeting tonight. She has a slick looking palm card, and an ad on Newzjunky. No lawn signs though.
The Washington Street Plaza is endorsing Jeff Smith and Steve Bradley. Numerous signs out front.
Next week Council meets with Board of Elections to talk about better polling places. Hope is southsiders can get out of the SOB and back to the High School.
I heard candidates don't want to come on the Hotline because we don't screen the calls. Free speech's in the Constitution !

No Surprise Here, Dem Bags Tea Party

Owens skips Tea Party event. It was in his home town and he didn't have far to travel, but purported Blue Dog Democrat Bill Owens skipped this group. Its not surprising. Democrats routinely dismiss Tea Party attendees as racists and by using the vulgarism "teabaggers." The tax and big government protestors who make up the Tea Party movement are folks at the core of a GOP win and certainly are essential to a Conservative Party candidate like Doug Hoffman.
The good thing about the Internet age is that such events so far away can be followed. The MSM in a given town just doesn't have the horsepower or inclination to cover the day to day events of a campaign.
The Press Republican - Article: Congressional candidates address health-care issues at forum

Kos Backs DeDe ?

See, I told you NY-23 is a national race. The "progressive"web site Daily Kos is backing Republican Scozzafava on the basis of her voting record and the fact they see Democrat Owens as just another "obnoxious" Blue Dog. Ms. Scozzafava is going to have to talk up moderate or conservative views on fiscal issues or an endorsement like this could be turned against her. Some political cover should occur this week when the Working Families Party endorses Democrat Bill Owens.
Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wrestling Exec Hopes to Pin Dodd

Connecticut voters will hear endless wrestling metaphors if WWF Executive Linda McMahon gets to be the GOP candidate against Senator Christopher Dodd. McMahon is wife of wrestling icon Vince McMahon. Mr. Dodd is considered vulnerable.
New York Region News - The New York Times

Miss, Mrs. or Ms.- What's Correct ?

This Times interview with the Council candidates gave all three hopefuls a good chance to share their background and philosophy.
I think all answered well.
One question I had was the use of "Mr." for the gentlemen but "Miss" for the woman. Obviously "Miss" was always a way to designate lack of marriage either because of youth or a life decision. "Mrs" was for those who had been married. Men don't have that qualifier when addressed formally.
In the 70's, just about everyone I know was taught to convert to "Ms." I use it all the time when addressing women.
Maybe newspapers have converted back to the old ways and I missed it.
What do you folks think is proper usage ?
Watertown Daily Times City Council candidates discuss issues

Sunday Musings

-City Council observer Wayne Zimmer says his issue for tomorrow is people who don't take off their hats when attending public meetings. Wayne will present a letter to City Council. I agree with him and will keep an eye out for such offenses.
-A first round of discussion on the Council candidates in today's WDT. All three gave good answers to set questions and the photos took at least five years off everybody.
-I am going to take my car registration in to DMV in person this week so cash-strapped Jefferson County can make a couple bucks off me. Hope there is no line.
-I wanted a Cheryl Lane sign for Pearl Street. You would think my good friend Leo Thompson would bring one over.
-This Tuesday at 11 AM I get to speak for the first time in a couple years to IP State Chair MacKay. There is a conference call to nominate a candidate for Congress. An ugly schism over the Aubertine-Barclay race created the lack of communication. I am sure it will be cordial and businesslike as everyone is on board with nominating Scozzafava.
-It doesn't look like my Jets will be on television today. TV 7 will carry the Bills at 4 PM and FOX 28 has Dallas/Denver . I am going to give Brian Ashley a piece of my mind.

Big District....Lots of Opinions

It's easy to think after all these years of John McHugh that the Congressional district is Watertown and a couple surrounding counties. There are places most Watertown folks are not familiar with in this 23rd CD, including Fulton County located along the Mohawk River Valley. Folks in places like this are weighing in and here is an interesting analysis NJ discovered.
The Valley News Online