Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Gen. Wes Clark endorses Jon Powers, likely next congressman from NY-26

Upstate New York, like the rest of the Northeast, is becoming less and less amenable to the blandishment of politicians selling the Republican line. Traditional Republican districts have been turning hostile to the party as it has turned more radical, more ideological and identifies itself with religious snakehandlers and fear-mongering Crusaders while ignoring-- or even acerbating-- the basic problems that most plague regular people. In 2006 the GOP went into the election with no House members from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont or Maine-- and no hopes for capturing seats in any of those states. Instead Republican incumbents lost both the New Hampshire congressional districts to Democratic challengers and two out of the three congressional districts they held in Connecticut, with the third holding on by a thread and likely to go blue in 2008. New York, already trending overwhelmingly Democratic, gave the boot to two upstate Republican incumbents-- trading in Kelly and Sweeney for Hall and Gillibrand-- and filled an empty GOP seat with Mike Arcuri, a Democrat. Last year's a close calls for Randy Kuhl, Tom Reynolds, and James Walsh caused two of the three to opt for retirement rather than face likely defeat in November. The third, Kuhl, is unlikely to win again. Pennsylvania Republicans saw Democrats pick off a powerful U.S. Senator (a member of the party's leadership team) in a landslide, as well as four GOP House incumbents. Democrats could well turn two more red districts blue in November. New Jersey Republicans held on in '06 but two were shaken up badly enough to announce retirement. After November the GOP in New Jersey is likely to go from 6 GOP House seats to 2 or 3.

The Old Confederacy is now the Republican heartland and Alabama is a state the GOP counts on. Of the 7 House seats, 5 are solidly red, one of the Democrats is in an African-American district and the other, Bud Cramer, is so conservative and votes so frequently with the GOP on substantive matters, that Republicans don't even bother running anyone against him. This year Cramer is retiring as is Republican Terry Everett. But instead of this being an opportunity for the GOP to pick up Cramer's seat (which Democrats are likely to hold), it has turned into a chance for Democrats to pick up Everett's seat! Republicans have no candidate-- just a raucous gaggle of hopefuls, while the Democrats have united behind Bobby Bright, the popular mayor of Montgomery, the 2nd CD’s major population center.

Now, back to upstate New York. Last week we reported on the sudden retirement announcement by Bush rubber stamp Thomas Reynolds from the mostly suburban district connecting Buffalo to Rochester. Common wisdom immediately proclaimed that state Senator George Maziarz would probably be the only Republican who could beat Iraq War veteran Jon Powers, the likely Democratic nominee. But like so many first and second tier candidates the GOP has asked to run in November, Maziarz passed, fully cognizant that January, 2009 is not going to be a time when many Republican freshmen get sworn in.

Immediately after Maziarz turned them down, local Republicans turned to Niagara County's GOP chairman Henry Wojtaszek but he also demurred, although Wheatfield Supervisor Timothy Demler is jumping up and down waving his hands over his head wildly. The only other remotely legitimate candidate-- one the RNCC is begging to run-- is a right wing extremist in the State Assembly, Jim Hayes of Amherst. State Senate leaders had been begging Hayes to run for the seat of retiring state Senator Mary Lou Rath and he was too chicken to do that. [UPDATE: Hayes just bowed out too, as did Don Postles, a local TV anchorman the Republicans offered the slot to; he's not a Republican but he says he was flattered by the offer. And the Niagara Gazette is reporting that Demler, who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2006, became the fourth Republican to decide against running for the seat in recent days.]

If he doesn't run, the Republicans may have to turn to a Conservative Party leader, Anthony Baynes, who said he would run if Republican leaders gave him their party line and cleared the field. "If I have no primary, I'll run," he said. There's also a restaurateur with a familiar name, Nick Sinatra and a lawyer whose only qualification seems to be his name, something that could confuse voters-- Michael Powers.


Dan is so obviously going to be the next congressman from NY-25 (Syracuse) that the incumbent wingnut announced he was retiring. His hand-picked replacement, Peter Cappuccilli, just withdrew, leaving the GOP with no choice (again) except to allow a self-funding vanity candidate to run-- and, so far, they can't even come up with one of those!

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At 3:14 PM, Blogger GRCOH said...

You probably referred to Rep. Artur Davis as the Alabama district that you stated was African-American. He actually does vote with the Democrats most of the time. I am surprised to learn that the 7th district is a majority African-American. It might be so, but I'm going to have to pay more attention to race to know.


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