Posts Tagged ‘23rd Congressional District’

Saturday, October 31, 2009

23rd CD: Dede Scozzafava Drops Out of the Race

In a move that has the potential to shift the outcome of the coming election for the 23rd Congressional District spot once held by fellow Republican John McHugh, Dede Scozzafava has announced that she has suspended her campaign. Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, has not yet given her support to either of her opponents, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, or Democrat Bill Owens. A Siena poll released today has Owens at 36 percent of likely voters, Hoffman at 35 percent, and Scozzafava at 20 percent.

“In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money,” Scozzafava wrote in a statement to supporters.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Analysis: The Inevitable Halloween/Election Day Cartoon

Say you’re a cartoonist, and you own a bar at the intersection of October and November. And once a year at this season two patrons—Halloween and Election Day—walk in and sit down just a couple barstools apart. They never really talk. They just show up, year in and year out. Despite their vast differences in age, temperament, cultural tradition, and costume, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these misfits were destined to be together. And for the rest of your career you will devote one day a year to drawing a cartoon that somehow marries the two. Some of these cartoons work out better than others.

This may be a promising year if your bar is located in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Few house races in memory can match this year’s special election for Halloween parallels. Consider the following features:

• A Democratic candidate who looked a lot more like a Republican before he put on the traditional donkey costume;
• A Republican candidate who looks like a liberal to moderates, and looks like an Elvis impersonator to conservatives;
• A Conservative candidate with a devilish grin;

Throw in a candidate endorsement from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a cowboy hat and candidate bodies which mysteriously disappear the day of scheduled debates, and you have good raw material for a frightful cartoon.

Of course, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Existentialism in the 23rd Congressional District

Consider the Existentialist dilemma of the candidates seeking New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat. You may recall Existentialism from high school French class or a movie date in college: the hard-to-pin-down philosophy supported largely on the precepts that 1) Orthodoxies and doctrines are meaningless 2) We all live for the moment and determine our fate by our choices, and 3) We’re all doomed anyway, so what the heck. Toss in words like “ennui” and “angst” and you’ve pretty much covered it.

Anyway, on June 2nd, when John McHugh accepted President Obama’s nomination to become Secretary of the Army, he triggered a five-month-long campaign to fill his House seat, a campaign which will end at the polls on November 3rd.

The abbreviated schedule means that the traditional binary and sequential format of American campaigns—an ideological race (left v. right) in the primaries followed by a partisan race (R v. D) in the general election—must be fought concurrently. As a consequence, the race for the 23rd features a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Republican who falls somewhere to the left of the opposing “centrist” Democrat, who was never really a Democrat before and doesn’t even mention the word all that often, and a Conservative who falls just to the left of a Viking on social issues. Contemporary political dogma will not help the disoriented voter in this election.

The foreshortened calendar has also served to concentrate the negative advertising in the race. While the regionally-recognized candidates need to define themselves (more by their actions than their party affiliations) across the sprawling district, they (and their surrogates) are already spending more time and money undefining each other—complete with ominous tones, distorted voting records and unflattering likenesses.

Perhaps the most resonant existential element of the 23rd CD race is the utter futility of the goal itself. Whoever wins the right to represent New York’s northernmost citizens will immediately have to gear up a defense of the seat in 2010, a tough job, with or without an extended recount. The 2010 election coincides with the decennial census, and the expected loss of two New York congressional seats in the ensuing redistribution. The choice of which districts to eliminate during reapportionment will fall to a state legislature that owes nothing to whichever rookie legislator occupies the seat.

In short, the best scenario that the victor of the November 3rd special election can hope for goes something like this: Beneath heavy Washington skies, following swearing in to the remainder of the 111th Congress, the Distinguished Representative, along with a few other members from terminal districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania will convoke the Jean-Paul Sartre Caucus at a cafe somewhere off DuPont Circle. Over espressos and Gauloises they will grimly deconstruct the lyrics of “Born to Run,” shrug twice, then disappear forever. C’est la vie.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Opinion: Election For McHugh’s Seat -An Opportunity for Local Media to Demonstrate Their Worth

Provided he is confirmed, which seems very likely, John McHugh’s elevation to Secretary of the Army means another special election fight here in the Adirodnack region. I railed here about the failure of local media to accurately report on our last Special Election, that for Kirstin Gillibrand’s 20th Congressional District seat. Outlets as varied as NCPR and the Glens Falls Post Star united in declaring from the beginning that there were only two candidates – not surprisingly they were those from the two major parties, two other candidates were all but ignored as irrelevant. During the 20th race local political writers and editors even blatantly defended their undemocratic actions on the grounds that they were the arbiters for all of us as to which candidates were “legitimate” and “relevant.”

All the local media’s nonsense and anti-democratic proclamations raised a constant barrage from local blogs who attempted to hold them to account. One response from Brian Mann at NCPR seems to have been a regular attack on bloggers for destroying the profits of local newspapers. His argument, expressed regularly by others in the old media business as well, is that the loss of our local newspapers will destroy our democracy. I know – it’s downright funny to actually argue that the loss of today’s local newspapers will actually hurt democracy!

Of course their arguments are ridiculous at best, self-serving and disingenuous at worst – but that’s what we’ve come to expect from local media. And why not, they are almost entirely owned by corporate interests, and if not, they have been educated on the corporate journalism model. Never mind that newspaper circulation reached a peak in 1993, long before blogs and other news aggregators existed; in fact, before the internet was any sort of real force in our lives (and not coincidentally at the height of both corporate media control and the power of their corporate two-party system). If the internet means the death of an old corporate media tied to the two parties that have dominated politics since the rise of corporate control of the presses, then good riddance.

Maybe I’m wrong – maybe a 23rd Special Election will prove to be the election that local media actually reports fairly and proves their worth. Maybe we’ll actually see an investigative report on the election that’s not tied to support for one of the corporate candidates. Maybe local media will cover all the candidates equally. It’s not likely, but it would be nice. Let me offer some advice – right now there are no candidates – when one announces, begin covering them, as each new candidate emerges, cover them equally until such time THEY say they are no longer a candidate. That’s called fairness, it’s a major tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

So far, the Albany Project been the best provider of news and information about the potential upcoming 23rd Special Election. Here is a round-up of the reporting so far to show some of what’s already happening. First the old style media:

The Times Union’s Capital Confidential blog provides a list of Republican and Democratic potential challengers (let the bias begin).

Cap Con on what their 20th CD corporate candidate Democrat Scott Murphy thinks.

NCPR’s Brian Mann on how the race will be a repeat of the Republican-Democrat bruiser (there’s your first sports metaphor from me Brian) in the 20th CD.

Brian Mann on whether the Republican is really a pawn of the Democratic party.

Brian Mann on whether Republican DeeDee Scozzafava has a chance.

The Zach Subar and Nathan Brown of the Leader-Herald let us know that McHugh’s Republican Chief of Staff won’t run – thanks guys – are their any other Republicans who won’t run that we should know about?

Now for the local independent blogs:

The Albany Project lets us know through actual reporting that their are 103,847 voters enrolled (out of 392,006 total) who are not designated as Republicans or Democrats (including three Socialists!).

The Albany Project provides a detailed and well researched history of the district going back to 1830.

And a few others:

The Politicker’s (a mainstream media darling blog) reports on the Democrat and Republican chances twice.

Herkimer County Progressive on Why the Democrats can Win.

Jefferson Democrat on the Democratic opportunity.

Jefferson Leaning Left on the confusion among Republicans.

Conservative blogger Political IV on Republican chances.

It’s amazing how much the partisan blog reports look like the old media reports – isn’t it?

You can follow the 23rd CD race here at Adirondack Almanack; we also cover politics more generally here.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

McHugh Nominated to Secretary of the Army

Congressman John McHugh has been nominated today by President Obama to become the nation’s 25th Secretary of the Army. McHugh, a Republican from Pierrepont Manor, has represented New York’s 23rd Congressional District since January 1993. He is currently ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

On the House Armed Services Committee, McHugh succeeded his predecessor in the district dominated by the Fort Drum, David O’Brien Martin. Since 1993 McHugh has worked his way up through Republican ranks until assuming the position of ranking member in this year’s 111th Congress upon the retirement of former Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter.

Despite serving on the committee over the course of the Iraq war, McHugh never lost popular support in his increasingly Democrat-leaning district. He forged alliances with New York Democrats serving on Congressional Armed Services Committees, Senator Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. He would leave the committee shortly after Congressman Scott Murphy of the neighboring 20th District joined.

As a position, the Secretary of the Army is a direct descendent of the Secretary of War, which was a Cabinet-level position from 1789 until 1947. In that year the office was renamed Department of the Army, and brought together with the other armed services under the Department of Defense.

Approval of McHugh’s nomination by the US Senate would set the stage for another special congressional election in the Adirondacks, and a probable short tenure for the eventual victor. The district will likely face a severe reconfiguration, if not outright elimination following the upcoming 2010 census and reapportionment fight.



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