Thursday, April 27, 2006

Weh-hell, It Looks Like New York Dems ARE Relevant, After All!

Democrats Look to Clinton and Spitzer for Help in Winning House

April 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Democrats' prospects for winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November may rest with two high-powered New York politicians who aren't even running for seats: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Eliot Spitzer.

Clinton, who's likely to win easy re-election to the Senate, and Spitzer, the state attorney general who is leading in polls to become the next governor, might help the Democrats pick up as many as six New York congressional seats -- more than one-third of the 15 they need nationally to gain a House majority.

The two are so strong politically that they may lift Democratic candidates across the state, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. Spitzer, 46, led potential Republican candidates by margins ranging from 18 to 66 percentage points in a Qunnipiac University poll last month; a Marist poll earlier this year found that 54 percent of New Yorkers ``definitely'' plan to vote for Clinton, 58.

``It could turn into a Democratic year in New York, which might then have an impact on down-ballot races for Congress,'' Miringoff said.
Interesting. Let's see how this works:
House Democratic candidates such as Kirsten Gillibrand are campaigning on the theme that their Republican opponents are too closely tied to President George W. Bush's policies.

Gillibrand is seeking the Democratic nomination in New York's 20th District to challenge four-term incumbent Republican Representative John Sweeney.

Democrats are also targeting seats held by Republicans Sherwood Boehlert, Randy Kuhl, Tom Reynolds, James Walsh, and Sue Kelly, said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He said Democrats may have an advantage because of a flagging economy in upstate New York, and will be helped by the candidates at the top of the ticket.
Now, Boehlert has already announced he will not seek re-election. He's been in Congress for 24 years now, and one imagines that, as a moderate Republican, he's probably had enough of the nonsense that passes for a legislative agenda.
Kuhl won a first term in Congress in 2004 with just 51 percent of the vote, making his southwestern New York district a top target this year. He will probably face off in November against Democrat Eric Massa, a former Navy officer and special assistant to General Wesley Clark.
That he pulled 51% of the vote as a newbie in New York State in a year when Bush couldn't be seen on the political radar (except for his appearance at the RNC, see below) is no small matter, but he replaced Republican Amo Houghton, one of the genuinely nice guys and smart guys in Congress (I know, I've spoken with him at length). My suspicion is, coupled with his....shall we say, less than spotless marital record?...he might be a bit vulnerable on his record, or lack thereof.
Reynolds, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is being challenged by his 2004 opponent, businessman Jack Davis, who won 44 percent of the vote in the Buffalo suburban district last time
Now, Reynolds is running in a district that sees Tim Russert regularly, and during the 2000 Senatorial campaign, you may recall that Buffalo hosted the infamous Lazio manuever during a debate, when Republican Rick Lazio assaulted Hillary Clinton.

What you may not recall from that debate was the strong note made regarding the lackluster economy in the Buffalo area. Some progress has been made, based on a recent trip I took up that way, but clearly more can and should be done to improve what has always been a fine working class town. It's cities like Buffalo that deserve America's attention.
Walsh's leading Democratic challenger, former House Ways and Means Committee aide Dan Maffei, has raised $207,000 so far, compared with the $381,000 raised by the nine-term lawmaker. The Syracuse district gave Kerry 50 percent of its vote in 2004 to 48 percent for Bush.
You might be noticing a pattern here: all of these seats are in western New York state. The demographics up there have altered somewhat over the past six years, and certainly more rapidly over the past two. Kerry won the district. Gore won the district, but by a slightly larger margin. Could be a toss-up.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan Washington newsletter, has Kelly's race on a watch list because the district gave Bush only 53 percent of the vote in 2004. As many as six Democrats may face off in a September primary to take Kelly on in November. The front-runner, lawyer Judith Aydelott, has raised $466,000 to Kelly's $1 million.
Hey now! Where's John Hall in all this??? He's "Still the One"!

More in-depth info at, and a hat tip to, the Working Families Party Journal