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."

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