Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Candidate information

I'm going along with Chris Bowers' plan to Googlebomb the election, or at least some of the Republican candidates. Here, then, is the list:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
--AZ-01: Rick Renzi
--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
--CA-04: John Doolittle
--CA-11: Richard Pombo
--CA-50: Brian Bilbray
--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
--CO-05: Doug Lamborn
--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
--CT-04: Christopher Shays
--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
--FL-16: Joe Negron
--FL-22: Clay Shaw
--ID-01: Bill Sali
--IL-06: Peter Roskam
--IL-10: Mark Kirk
--IL-14: Dennis Hastert
--IN-02: Chris Chocola
--IN-08: John Hostettler
--IA-01: Mike Whalen
--KS-02: Jim Ryun
--KY-03: Anne Northup
--KY-04: Geoff Davis
--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
--MN-06: Michele Bachmann
--MO-Sen: Jim Talent
--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
--NV-03: Jon Porter
--NH-02: Charlie Bass
--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
--NM-01: Heather Wilson
--NY-03: Peter King
--NY-20: John Sweeney
--NY-26: Tom Reynolds
--NY-29: Randy Kuhl
--NC-08: Robin Hayes
--NC-11: Charles Taylor
--OH-01: Steve Chabot
--OH-02: Jean Schmidt
--OH-15: Deborah Pryce
--OH-18: Joy Padgett
--PA-04: Melissa Hart
--PA-07: Curt Weldon
--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
--PA-10: Don Sherwood
--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
--TN-Sen: Bob Corker
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf
--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Walsh Seeks Embryo Vote

In last night's debate against Democratic challenger Dan Maffei, incumbent Republican Jim Walsh was asked if he's ever thought of changing his mind on his opposition to embryonic stem cell research. My eyebrows were certainly raised by his response:

No, I absolutely believe that there's a life in those embryos and that if we destroy it for whatever reason that's the destruction of a life.

I wonder if Walsh realized what he said. It's not just embryonic stem cell research that should be against the law, but also in vitro fertilization and first trimester abortions, all of which would be murder if a fertilized embryo were to be recognized as a human life.

A clever approach if you think about it. If all of CNY's embryos had been given constitutional rights 18 years ago when he was first elected, they'd now be of voting age, and they'd owe their lives to people like Walsh.

Unfortunately, Walsh hasn't had any visible effect in moving the Right-to-Life agenda. Which begs the question: is he hypocritical or is he ineffective? Or maybe it's just another case of a cynical Republican dangling red meat in front of conservative voters.

More reactions to the debate

The stem-cell issue wasn't the only pandering to the right wing. Walsh also offered up more standard Republican tropes such as:
  • equating illegal immigration with terrorism
  • maintaining that we need to legalize illegal domestic wiretapping in order to fight terrorism
  • whining that Democrats will increase taxes
  • declaring that Foley was just one bad apple, and then not nearly as bad as Democratic bad apples of the past

Walsh even denounced Maffei as a "carpetbagger" despite Dan's having grown up here and having Syracuse roots that go four generations back.

Local media starting to get it

I've noticed recent coverage of the race in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Syracuse Post-Standard is starting to look more even-handed. It used to focus on "who's this Maffei guy, anyway?" but now I've seen more discussion of the real differences between the two candidates, with Maffei being given weight as a viable option. For example, from the Syracuse paper:

It's a race that Robert McClure, a Syracuse University political science professor, said he won't be calling before Nov. 7.

"In 1996, Jim was not the person of stature on the Appropriations Committee he now is. He was just beginning his climb through the Republican hierarchy and his seniority had not really begun to reap the kinds of benefits for the district that I think it now does," McClure said.

"On the other hand, I think the mood is different today. In 1996, the country was not in a particularly sour mood. That's not the case now. There's an underlying nastiness and negativity that I think is different."

And the Rochester D&C article gives Maffei the first and last word:
"It's time to change the priorities in Washington," Maffei said, criticizing Walsh for voting with President Bush more than 90 percent of the time.
Walsh said the area's economy is "outstripping the rest of the state."

"The congressman is in a state of denial," Maffei replied, saying corporations such as General Electric, Carrier, Eastman Kodak and Xerox are now shadows of what they once were.

Walsh feeling the heat

In the debate, Walsh seems to be running away from his record, instead complaining about his challenger: Dan's not from around here, Dan's money comes from George Soros (mentioned twice in the debate), Dan's message is one of "doom and gloom." (As if anyone in Syracuse actually thought things were all funny and sunny?)

But I think Walsh is finally starting to realize that his biggest obstacle to reelection isn't his Democratic challenger, it's the voters who live in his district. At least those pesky liberals who show up at debates and ask uncomfortable questions like why he's voted with Bush 90% of the time. So, according to a statement released yesterday by the Maffei campaign, Walsh is trying to keep them away from the debate:

...in a letter to Syracuse CBS affiliate WTVH 5, which would televise the debate live on October 23, Walsh has sought onerous restrictions, including:
  • Excluding students and faculty from even attending the debate on their own campus;
  • Limiting the kinds of questions that can be asked; and
  • Prohibiting audience members from even asking questions.

Come on, Jim. It's been a fine ride. Your kids have gotten good jobs in Central New York (about the only ones who have, of course). You haven't been touched by even a hint of scandal. But it's been 18 years and it's time for a change.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Maffei and the Empire State Strike Back

Our man Dan Maffei has reached the big time... not only is he quoted extensively in a Washington Post OpEd today, but he provides the title of the piece:
"It's 'The Empire State Strikes Back,' " says Democrat Dan Maffei, a former congressional aide who is running a surprisingly strong race against Rep. Jim Walsh, the Republican incumbent, in a district that stretches from Syracuse to the Rochester area.

Maffei sees the immediate trend toward Democrats powered by frustration with President Bush and the Iraq war. But it is also rooted in long-term factors: the economic troubles of many Upstate communities, the area's "libertarian" leanings on cultural issues and the homelessness felt by many moderate Republicans in the face of a national party increasingly dominated by conservatives.

"Bush Republicanism," Maffei says, "is not for them."
Upstate New York voters, even Democrats, tend conservative in the traditional sense of the word. In NY-25 this explains, in part, why Republican incumbent Walsh has faced no credible challengers in the last 7 elections (last time around, he ran unopposed). Other reasons for Walsh's longevity include an overall rightward shift in the electorate, and a gerrymandered district that pairs urban Syracuse with a wide westward suburban and rural swath.

But this story is huge, because it's the first time Maffei's really been noticed outside the local media, which have tended to downpedal Maffei's campagin. With this story, he's broken through the "is he for real" barrier that faces any first-time challenger against an entrenched incumbent. Other recent accomplishments by Dan Maffei include:
Dan Maffei has proven his viability as a candidate, and I think that may have been all that stood in the way of his riding a national and statewide Democratic wave (with Clinton and Spitzer atop the ticket) next month.

And in the big picture, Maffei taking NY-25 is very representative of the Democrats chances of winning control of the House. But don't just take it from me — the editorial by E. J. Dionne Jr. includes this telling quote from former NY Senator and power broker "Pothole" Al D'Amato:
D'Amato, normally a happy Republican warrior, is in a blue mood about November. "You have a foreign policy which is groping and a domestic [Mark] Foley scandal, so you have a lot of disaffected people, and I think it's going to result not only in the Democrats taking over the House, but also with substantial numbers."