Campaigning the Old-Fashioned Way

by Brian on October 3, 2006

Up here in Central New York, there are several close congressional races. So we’re being treated to a flood of TV advertising for the various candidates. You’d think it would be pretty easy to run a Democratic campaign these days. Just pick one of the “many things”: going wrong for Republicans and run with it. In the 25th CD, incumbent Jim Walsh is running TV ads on the “Elect me because I don’t vote for what George Bush wants” line. That would be _Republican_ incumbent Jim Walsh.

The other CD in this media market is the adjacent 24th, which has a fairly similar profile. So what do you think Democratic candidate in the 24th, “Michael Arcuri”: is running on? Middle class taxes of course! I was simply stunned when watching TV over the weekend to see his ads trying to argue that he would do more to cut taxes than his Republican opponent. (The ad in question wasn’t quite “this one”:, but it had a similar theme.) Now the voters of the 24th may or may not be political junkies, but I bet they’re going to have pretty firm associations between Republicans and tax cuts, and a few attack ads in the campaign season isn’t going to shake this. Some of the Arcuri ads on YouTube mention that he’s a Democrat who doesn’t like Bush, but I haven’t seen any of them on the air. Instead it’s back to the Clinton playbook, the magical middle-class tax-cut as the core campaign strategy, and don’t mention the war. Since this worked once in the early 90s, it’s sure to work again now.

Of course, this is the same Arcuri who “supports the Military Commissions Act”:, or what I like to think of as the “No Habeas Corpus for Folks Like Me Act”. So perhaps he doesn’t really want to run on an anti-Bush, or anti-Republican, platform. If I had a vote in that district, I’d still vote for the Democrat, because Democratic control of the House committees is so important, but I’d hope that if Arcuri wins a real Democrat challenges him in 2 years time. And I wish the DCCC would spend more money promoting Democrats who are proud to be Democrats than Republican-lite candidates like him.



Mark Schmitt 10.03.06 at 2:36 pm

NY-24 and NY-25 are not that similar. Bush won NY-24 by six points, and Charlie Cook’s “Partisan Voting Index” rates it R+1 — slightly leaning Republican. In NY-25, Bush lost by two points, and Cook rates it D+3. I hate to hear that kind of language, but Arcuri does have to win over some genuine Republicans in order to win that much more rural district.

Hopefully you live in NY-25, where your Democrat is Dan Maffei, who not only wouldn’t run on a cheap anti-tax platform, but previously worked on the Ways and Means Committee for Congressman Rangel. He’s a great candidate. It’s a mystery to me why NY-25 and a few other NY districts get all the attention, while Walsh, who is scrambling to dissasociate himself from Bush, DeLay and everything else he stands for, in a hostile district against a good challenger, is barely noticed.


CJColucci 10.03.06 at 3:17 pm

As a former Syracuse native, NY-25, I doubt that Walsh is fooling anyone about his Republican bona fides. His father was (Republican) mayor for many years.


The Navigator 10.03.06 at 5:16 pm

Was there no primary in the 24th? I assume Democratic primary voters, who are generally presumed to be more liberal than the average Dem voter in the general, chose Arcuri to run. I realize it’s not that simple – there are matters of the DCCC recruiting candidates, and the party and big donors making it clear beforehand who they’ll help and who they won’t – but it’s just not the case that the party simply anoints the nominee. And even if the DCCC or Dean at the DNC wanted to recruit and support a “real Democrat,” they can’t just conjure one out of thin air – there’s got to be someone already in the district who has a reasonable chance of winning in November.


eweininger 10.03.06 at 5:47 pm

We have something similar with the nearby 29th, where Eric Massa is running against the incumbent Republican, Somebody Kuhl. Massa’s ads are all about his “fiscal conservativism” (they flash that term over and over) and his military service. I guess you do have to swallow some of the anti-tax stuff if you want to pick off a couple of these districts. After the implorations of a friend who’s a local Dem activist, I bit the bullet and sent a check.


Brian 10.03.06 at 5:58 pm

Mark knows a lot more about this stuff than I do, but I’m surpised that the difference between R+1 and D+3 is enough to warrant the different strategies. But I should defer to experts on this. I agree that it would be great if NY-25 got more national attention; it seems like a great race.

I actually live in neither of these districts, but in Ithaca which is squeezed into the safely Democratic 22nd. (Not that aliens like me can vote anyway.) I’m surprised I haven’t seen more advertising here for the 29th – its boundary is only a few miles away – but I’m not that shocked Massa is running a conservative campaign. And given that his opponent is Randy Kuhl, I wouldn’t even have to bite the bullet to support him. (Given Kuhl’s previous bad behaviour with shotguns, this might be a bad metaphor!)


marcel 10.03.06 at 6:11 pm

Hey cjcolucci. It’s amazing how many of us “former Syracuse natives” there are. Some people bought the house next to me a few months ago, and I discovered that he grew up on the other side of town, his family was friends with a family up the block, and he graduated from CBA the same year I graduated from Nottingham. Anyway, I remember Walsh from my childhood, and that awful Democrat, Jim Hanley. Yucch.

A new slogan for the city –
“Syracuse: better to be from it than in it!”


ed 10.03.06 at 9:55 pm

The support of the torture act is unforgivable, but fiscal conservatism is completely understandable. If you haven’t noticed, the Republican Congress has not been fiscally conservative in any sense where the word might have some meaning, and in New York, the Republican governor and state senate are even worse. And if you are progressive, there are tons of wasteful spending in both the federal and state government that does absolutely nothing to promote economic equality. At the federal level, this is mostly the defense budget, in New York State, various contracts.

I assume that both Massa and Acuri have spelled out which cuts in which programs they are willing to make?

By the way, Acuri’s opponent, Randy Meier, is considered to be one of the more liberal Republlican poltiicians in the state, so it may make sense for progressives to sit this race out.


Mark Schmitt 10.03.06 at 10:21 pm

Just to put the districts in perspective, the difference between one that Bush wins by six and one that Kerry won by 2 is roughly the difference between Colorado, which Bush won by 4, and Michigan, which Kerry won by 2.5. We accept that Sen. Salazar of Colorado had to seem pretty conservative to win that state; we would be shocked if a Michigan Senator had to talk that talk, and indeed, they don’t.


dave heasman 10.04.06 at 3:06 am

(Not that aliens like me can vote anyway.)

To English eyes that looks like taxation without representation. Good job there’s a traditional remedy for that.


Hunter 10.04.06 at 7:03 am

There was NO PRIMARY in the 24th congressional district. We Democratic voters did NOT get the chance to choose who would run for us, or we would have chosen someone else.

The Democratic County Committees in our district chose Michael Arcuri, and forced other candidates to drop out far before the primaries.

Arcuri is an idiot. I won’t vote for him.


Belle Waring 10.04.06 at 8:13 am

not voting is the least of your worries, resident alien. I wouldn’t donate any money to any muslim charities if I were you. or do anything suspicious, like speaking Tamil.


Matt Weiner 10.04.06 at 10:17 am

Belle, the best part (in a “shit-it-has-happened-here” way) of that is the last sentence:

He told officials that he would not speak in a foreign language on his cell phone at an airport in the future.

I’m sure our new braintapping technology will reveal that the unspoken version of the sentence was “I will not speak in a foreign language on my cell phone at an airport in future, assholes.”


CJColucci 10.04.06 at 10:37 am

marcel: I actually think Syracuse is a good place to be from. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to keep people there, so it isn’t a particularly good place to go to.


The Constructivist 10.05.06 at 12:55 pm

Please keep the central/upstate/western NY commentary going. Not only is it a fun read from Fukuoka but also motivating to get that absentee ballot in early….

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