Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bruce Tytler considering "campaign to win"

I just finished speaking to former Cortland mayor Bruce Tytler on the telephone, and asked him to confirm the rumors that he is contemplating a campaign for the 24th District's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tytler said that yes, he is taking a look at running for Congress, and that his considerations are growing increasingly serious. He has a campaign together that is working together to gather the research Tytler will need to make his final decision, which he says will come in the next couple of weeks.

More than taking on any of the other Democratic candidates running in the district, Tytler had his focus on defeating Sherwood Boehlert, citing a "deficit of leadership" that is in dire need of remedy.

By the way, Bruce Tytler says that he is well aware of the rumors being maliciously spread about him over at the Syracuse.com discussion pages. Tytler says that it's all a bunch of old bunk, and said I could tell my readers so.

Tytler and I ended the conversation with a promise that, when Tytler makes his final decision, he'll give me a telephone call. Until then, I can leave you with the word, strongly expressed by Tytler, that if he decides to run for Congress, he will run to win.

Confirmed: Les Roberts is 24th District Frontrunner

This news is just in from the New York Liberal blog: The fundraising statistics from the period ending December 31 last year show that Les Roberts is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. As of New Year's Eve, the Friends of Les Roberts campaign had 48,767 dollars in the bank.

How about Michael Arcuri, the Oneida County District Attorney who was, in December, widely assumed to be a strong contender for the nomination? He had just more than one-fifth of the amount raised by the Les Roberts campaign: 10,150 dollars. What can you get for ten thousand dollars these days? Not an effective campaign, that's for sure.

I'm going to borrow the following graphic from the New York Liberal people - don't tell.

Jeff Miller is shown here raising just twenty five dollars, but to be fair to Jeff, he wasn't even campaigning at the time. Yesterday, Jeff Miller bowed out of the race, leaving Les Roberts, Michael Arcuri, and two possible campaigns by Leon Koziol and Bruce Tytler.

Tytler and Koziol may be reconsidering their temptation to jump in the race at this late date, given that they would have to make up almost 50,000 dollars just to be competitive... with the figures Les Roberts had one month ago. Who knows what kind of money the Roberts campaign has gathered since the beginning of the year.

Michael Arcuri will also probably be reassessing his chances of gaining the nomination. What with his campaign victory to a new term as DA just two months ago, and a deficit of over 38,000 dollars compared to Les Roberts, Arcuri will have to work extra hard now to convince the Democratic committees of the 24th District that it is worth their while to endorse him over Roberts. Even the Oneida County Democratic Committee may now be in play.

Add to Michael Arcuri's problems that he has waited until February to really begin campaigning. Arcuri is giving a speech two days from now in Lansing, and he may well face some difficult questions from the members of the Lansing Democratic Committee gathered there.

All this confirms my earlier suspicions about the use of web presence as a good indicator of the health of a campaign. As I've pointed out on a few occasions, the Internet profile of Les Roberts easily overshadows all his Democratic rivals. Anyone who wants to take on Les Roberts now will not only have to contend with their relative poverty of funds, but also with their nearly non-existent online presence.

Contacting Leon Koziol

I didn't want to write this article. I've waited for there to be something other for me to say. But, I've waited long enough, and there isn't anything better I can say:

Leon Koziol has failed the contact test.

Much was made at the end of 2005 about a possible campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 24th District by attorney Leon Koziol. Since then, there has been relative silence. A few name recognition ads for Koziol have apparently run on television, but I haven't been glued to the tube enough to catch them. Discussion of Koziol, in the newspapers and online, has dropped down to practically nothing.

So, I was curious. Was Koziol still considering a run for Congress, or had he thought the better of it? I found the telephone number for Koziol's office on a PDF of a legal letter he had written for his work with Upstate Citizens for Equality, and gave him a call.

When I got through to Mr. Koziol, he confirmed that he would be running for Congress. He said he was still crafting his announcement speech, and would formally enter the race within the next two weeks (moving ahead now, that time frame would be some time in the next week). He says he has a campaign committee, and is working on a web site.

Then, I asked him how he was different from the other Democrats, how he planned to position himself as a candidate for the Democratic nomination. He seemed stumped. "I guess I really ought to have an answer for that question," he told me.

I was floored. How could someone contemplate running for Congress without considering how they would be different from the other candidates? How could someone seek the Democratic nomination without knowing what kind of Democrat they are? How could a candidate begin putting television ads on the air without knowing what the theme of his campaign would be first?

After a couple of minutes, Koziol recovered, and summoned up a trial answer.

"I'm a moral traditionalist," he said. I asked him what that meant. He talked to me about how he regards himself first and foremost as a conservative, family-oriented Democrat. He told me about how America's traditional value system is eroding at a pace that society cannot keep up with. He said he wants to work to bring back and preserve traditional moral values. He complained about the "very liberal viewpoint" that appears on television these days.

So it appears that Leon Koziol intends to be the Joseph Lieberman of the 24th District, running from the right. He's free to make that choice, of course, but it may not be the best way to clinch the Democratic nomination in a year when the Republican Party and its right wing agenda are less popular than they have been since the days just after Watergate.

A few minutes later, Koziol shifted his focus, and said that he really ought to be regarded as "the most qualified public interest advocate" among all the Democrats in the race. He talked about how he has clients throughout the district, people that he has helped, and would be working with their support during his campaign.

Koziol distinguished himself from both Michael Arcuri and Sherwood Boehlert, calling them "career politicians". In fact, Koziol's attention seemed riveted by Arcuri in particular. He had nothing but kind words for the other Democratic candidates, calling Les Roberts "a scholar and a gentleman", and saying that he was very glad that Jeff Miller and Bruce Tytler might be considering joining the race. When it came to Michael Arcuri, however, Koziol very pointedly said that he would not address Arcuri "right now".

This was an interesting, if somewhat quirky, start, and I was eager to provide readers here with more information about Koziol's campaign. So, I asked him for a copy of one of his television advertisements, and for a more extensive interview at a later time. He agreed, and told me to get in touch with the administrative assistant in his legal office, who is also running his

The administrative assistant was friendly, and said that she would either email me a copy of the campaign video or send a tape to me through the mail. She said she would be in touch with me soon by telephone or by email to have a time for an interview arranged.

So, the waiting began. The Koziol campaign never called back. They never sent an email. They did not send me a copy of Koziol's TV ad. I received no further contact at all.

Of course, I can't know the reason that Leon Koziol's campaign fell silent. Maybe they're stiff-arming me. Maybe Koziol has reconsidered his campaign. Perhaps Koziol's legal office is busy, and just dropped the ball.

The thing is, none of these possibilities reflect positively on a Koziol for Congress campaign. If Koziol's campaign is disorganized at this point in the race, when there is relatively little press coverage, and relatively slow procession of events, how well would it fare when things get really hot, before the filing deadline, primary, and general election? If Koziol's assistants can't be bothered to get back in touch with a prospective constituent offering free publicity, how accessible would he be as a member of Congress?

Leon Koziol failed the contact test. Although he may still make an announcement that he is running for Congress, and may wage a campaign of some sort, I wouldn't expect much more than a few sporadic fits and starts.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Will Sherwood Boehlert's Withdrawal Be Due to Corruption Scandal?

It looks like our congressman, incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, may soon be joining the likes of Randy Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Tom DeLay - as a suspect in a rapidly spreading corruption probe.

This corruption scandal does not have a direct connection to Jack Abramoff - yet. In this case, the corrupt lobbyist under investigation is Walter Rich, a railroad boss who is under investigation by the by the New York State lobbying commission on possible corruption charges.

The commission has asked Rich to turn over records of who stayed and ate at his mansion and in other lodgings he arranged around Cooperstown during a Baseball Hall of Fame event, and got free tickets to local events. It is against New York State law for lobbyists to give public officials gifts of over 75 dollars in worth, as the lodgings, meals and tickets surely were. These events will likely prove to be the New York State equivalent of Jack Abramoff's golf vacations in Scotland given to public servants.

It is widely expected that Sherwood Boehlert's name will be among those who were given illegal gifts by Walter Rich. Sherwood Boehlert is among those who are known to have held fundraisers in Rich's mansion.

These allegations come at the same time that David Butler, a former railroad police chief who worked for Walter Rich, is preparing to release a new book, Railroaded in Cooperstown. Butler's book promises to reveal chronic safety violation cover-ups, corruption, and illegal political fundraising orchestrated by Rich.

It is alleged that Walter Rich required his employees to give political donations to politicians, possibly including Sherwood Boehlert. Was that kind of corruption the secret behind Sherwood Boehlert's fundraising machine?

The commission will hold a public meeting Feb. 8. Look for more information then.

Thanks to Capitol Confidential for the tip.



Republican political cannibals who are eager to profit from Sherwood Boehlert's apparently imminent downfall might want to look at the connnections their own prospective candidates. State Senator James Seward, who has been named as a possible Republican successor to Sherwood Boehlert, is also named in David Butler's book, and may soon become the subject of a corruption probe himself.

Is Sherwood Boehlert Going to Quit?

Tom Grace of the Daily Star over in Oneonta dropped a bomb on the 24th District congressional district this weekend with his article suggesting that incumbent Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert is likely to quit the race, and not seek re-election in 2006. Sam Marchio, a spokesman for Representative Boehlert, has said that there will be an announcement sometime in March, when the House of Representatives is in recess.

Grace cites Boehlert's strong challengers within the Republican Party, and Boehlert's apparent difficulties gathering donations for his campaign. With Boehlert losing the chairmanship of the House Committee on Science, his ability to bring money into the district is greatly diminished, and donors appear to doubt that Boehlert has the clout necessary to gain another influential chairmanship.

Republican Brad Jones, former mayor of Seneca Falls, is already challenging Sherwood Boehlert for the Republican nomination, and has raised about 90,000 dollars. Republicans who are considering running for the GOP nomination, assuming Sherwood Boehlert's retirement, are state senators James Seward and Raymond Meier.

Whether or not Boehlert continues his re-election campaign, it looks like the race is wide open on the Republican side. Chances are increasing that the Republicans will nominate a right wing ideologue, making it more difficult for the Republicans to hold onto this seat in the general election.

Is There a Bruce Tytler Conspiracy?

This morning, someone calling himself or herself "Tytlerwatcher" left the following message here at the blog:

"You should check out the speculation about Bruce Tytler at the Syracuse.com Cortland County Forum. It appears he is destined to run for Congress, gather donations, drop out of the race and give the money to the Cortland County Democratic Committee that can't raise money under Bill Wood.

Tytler was the one term Mayor of Cortland who spent his entire term tied up by a battle with the Water Board and accomplished nothing."

Rumor has it that Bruce Tytler is currently considering a campaign for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican incumbent Representative Sherwood Boehlert in this year's election. Rumor, apparently, also has a bit else to say about Bruce Tytler.

I have seen this kind of idea discussed elsewhere on the web, perhaps by the same person, perhaps by someone different. At the discussion boards at Syracuse.com, for example, I found the following comments:

"Rumors abound that Mr. Tytler running for congress is nothing more then a ruse to raise money for the politcal party locally. The rumor is that Mr. Wood and his reputation have reached the tipping point where anything with his name on it can't garner any real support. Political gamesmanship and his Pyric Democratic Committee aside, he can't get the real party faithful to give him the time of day muchless a monotary donation. The ruse is to have Mr. Tytler "run" for this congressional seat but only go through the motions, so as not to spend all the donations he has taken in. Before the primary takes place it is rumored that he will bow out of the race, finally realizing what any politcal student already knows, a Democrat can't win this seat. With the money he has left in his coffers, he can by law, legally donate that money back to the local Democratic Party i.e. one Mr. William Wood. The joke will be on all of those who thought that Bruce was a candidate of substance and principle and once again, Mr. Wood like a theif in the night thwart all people of any decency. Remember, this is just a rumor however, heard while dinning at a local eatery in the first block of Main St. at the begining of the one-way section."

Is there any evidence for some kind of conspiracy by Bruce Tytler to defraud campaign donors? I haven't seen any. What there is evidence for is a coordinated, but underhanded, attack in the style of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

This looks to me like a desperate maneuver by a supporter of one of the other Democratic candidates who is afraid that a Bruce Tytler candidacy would take away valuable attention. The attacks are clearly coming from a resident of Cortland who has a grudge against Democratic Committee chair Bill Wood.

To this attacker, I say: Whatever your agenda, this is not the way to promote it. If Bruce Tytler is not fit to represent the 24th District Democrats in the general congressional election this year, we will find that out when he starts campaigning. If Bill Wood is not to your liking, then gather up a group of Democrats who will support you, and make a run for his position.

Democracy works best in the open, not under the veil of whisper campaigns.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Michael Arcuri to Come Out of the Closet

Michael Arcuri may finally be coming out of his shell and beginning his campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Just a few days from now, Arcuri will be in Lansing, speaking at an event sponsored by the Lansing Democratic Committee. The event will be held at the Lansing Community Center, 25 Auburn Road, near the library and the town hall, on Thursday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m.

I'll be there.

For more information, contact:

John Cawley, Chair, Lansing Democratic Committee
jhc38@cornell.edu 607-257-5007

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Boehlert Getting Bogged Down by Bush

A year ago, people would have said that Congressman Sherwood Boehlert would be unbeatable in the upcoming 2006 election. One year changes a great deal. A year ago, George W. Bush had just gained re-election and was bragging about his mandate. Now, it looks like Bush is widely despised, and it looks like he will go down in history as one of America's worst Presidents.

How does this affect Sherwood Boehlert? There are indications that Congressman Boehlert's chances for re-election are being seriously damaged by his association with George W. Bush's failed and unpopular policies.

Consider the following statement, which was given over at the Central New York Politics discussion board over at Syracuse.com:

"The Bushes have always been fans of big government. Spending is through the roof. Only the wealthy have enjoyed any meaningful tax cuts. Power is being consolidated in the oval office and the Pentagon. All the Republican talk about "getting the government off our backs" is just a bunch of b.s.

They eavesdrop, see what you're looking at online, send our national guardsmen off to Iraq, pay reporters to write favorable stories, and on and on and on. It will only stop when these guys (and their enablers like Walsh and Boehlert) are sent packing."

In the past, Boehlert has escaped association with the worst excesses of the Republican Party's right wing. In the last few years, though, Sherwood Boehlert is on the record as having voted for among the worst elements of the right wing's legislative agenda: He was for the invasion of Iraq, voted for legislation that attacked Americans' civil liberties, and has signed on to controversial trickle down economic policies.

It looks like Brer Boehlert may not be able to escape the Bush Tar Baby this time around.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Les Roberts: A Bread and Butter Candidate

Earlier today, I responded to part of a comment that was left on an earlier article I wrote about the possibility of a Bruce Tytler for Congress campaign. But, looking back at what I wrote, I realized that I left half of the comment's content unaddressed. I will now rectify that ommission. The anonymous comment concluded as follows:

"if you think somebody like Roberts who wants to talk about Rwanda and international health but doesn't seem to have a clue about the bread and butter issues here in the district can win, you are dreaming."

Okay, let's deal with this criticism of Les Roberts. Am I dreaming? I don't think so. In fact, I've been framed.

Yes, framed. I'm speaking of the attempt to frame the debate about the Les Roberts for Congress campaign by our anonymous commenter. A frame is a kind of rough definition of the issues at hand, the context to define all further discussion of a subject.

Notice what the anonymous commenter tried to pull in this short statement. He, or she, is trying to get you to buy into a seductive but false dichotomy: That a candidate for Congress who is capable of talking about international issues is for some reason incapable of talking about issues that are locally relevant.

Well, how does this frame apply to the real candidate, Les Roberts? As is often the case with political frames, it just doesn't fit reality.

Is Les Roberts capable of discussing the kind of international issues that routinely are addressed by the United States Congress? Yes. Roberts has an impressive depth of experience when it comes to international issues, especially when it comes to issues of science, health, and the effects of war on an international scale. Roberts has testified before Congress, advised the National Security Council, the group of people who in turn directly advise the President of the United States on national security (the old name for homeland security) matters. Roberts has travelled internationally as a part of his work, visiting places like the Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq in times of war. Roberts has put his life on the line to get information to top in the American government and United Nations. His work has been cited by the likes of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

When it comes to international issues, Les Roberts knows what he's talking about. He's been out into the big, wide world, and met it head on.

But does that mean that Les Roberts is somehow mysteriously incapable of talking about bread and butter issues that have a direct local impact on the 24th District? Of course not. To make such a claim is as ridiculous as claiming that the successful film career of Jennifer Lopez precludes her having a successful career in music as well.

Has Les Roberts met with local voters to speak on his experience dealing with the aftermath of genocidal war in Africa? Yes. But, Les Roberts has also made it clear that bread and butter issues are a central part of his campaign. Consider the following couple of statements from the Roberts for Congress campaign web site:

On Jobs and the Economy:

"In Congress, I will fight for a more fiscally responsible government through a balanced federal budget, the elimination of unnecessary and wasteful spending and the implementation of higher accountability standards in our federal agencies. One way to start is to oppose lucrative no-bid contracts and to eliminate extraordinary inefficiencies in the Homeland Security Department. I will also support shifting the benefit of the massive Bush "tax cuts" from the wealthiest Americans who need it the least to the middle class and poorer Americans who need it most."

On Health Care:

"In Congress, I will fight for a health care plan that will guarantee access to high quality health care for all Americans. I will also support legislation that will overturn Medicare's inability to negotiate prescription drug prices."

If that's not bread and butter, I don't know what is. The accusation that Les Roberts is running a campaign only on international issues just doesn't stick. So far, it looks like the Les Roberts campaign is running on all cylinders.

Now, let's examine what the other Democratic candidates have to say about bread and butter issues on their own campaign web sites.



It seems that none of the other Democratic candidates even has a campaign web site.

To the campaigns of Bruce Tytler, Leon Koziol, and Mike Arcuri, I'm begging: Get your campaign web sites up already! Start communicating with the Democrats of the 24th District if you want to be taken seriously.

Until those other Democrats start to actually campaign, I think it's really rotten to accuse the one Democrat who has been campaigning hard from the start of not talking about the issues enough.

Am I a Secret Agent Working for the Les Roberts Campaign?

This morning, Take Back New York's 24th received the following comment on the recent article entitled, Should Our Congressman Be A Regular Guy?:

"If this is a Les Roberts for Congress Blog, be honest. And if you think somebody like Roberts who wants to talk about Rwanda and international health but doesn't seem to have a clue about the bread and butter issues here in the district can win, you are dreaming."

Well, that was friendly. If direct communication is what's being called for, then let me deal with this issue directly.

No, this is not a Les Roberts for Congress blog.

No, I am not working for the Les Roberts for Congress campaign.

Who am I? I'm just a guy. I'm just a regular Democrat who doesn't want Sherwood Boehlert representing me in Congress any more. My name is Jonathan Cook. I live in Trumansburg with my wife and two kids.

I work for myself. I am not employed by any of the candidates in the 24th District, or compensated in any way by any of them.

The goal of this blog was very clearly stated in the introductory post here:

"This blog is dedicated to the effort to take back New York State's 24th Congressional District from the Republicans, who have neglected our part of central New York State for too long."

So, let me stop talking about myself, because that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about news of the 24th District congressional campaign, and discussions of how to best get a Democrat in the House of Representatives, and get Sherwood Boehlert looking for a new job in December, 2006.

It is understandable that people are now coming here, and dropping anonymous messages trying to take Les Roberts down. After all, Les Roberts has in the last weeks become the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and the campaigns and supporters of the other candidates know that they have to take Roberts down. That's how politics is played.

Let us consider for a moment why Les Roberts has become the frontrunner in this campaign. It's because he and his campaign have worked harder and with more discipline than anyone else.

While the other campaigns are still trying to draft their candidates' announcement speeches, Les Roberts made his own announcement speech weeks ago. He's got an active campaign headquarters, an excellent staff, a successful fundraising effort, a campaign web site, a solid platform communicated to voters, and is touring the region meeting with voters. None of the other candidates are anything close to this level of accomplishment.

Do a Google search for "Les Roberts for Congress". You'll get 63 results - and that doesn't include this blog.
Do a Google search for "Mike Arcuri for Congress" or "Michael Arcuri for Congress". You'll get zero results.
Do a Google search for "Bruce Tytler for Congress". You'll get zero results.
Do a Google search for "Leon Koziol for Congress". You'll get zero results.

Get the picture?

We Democrats need a nominee who can deliver results. So far, only Les Roberts is delivering any real results.

That's why I write articles supporting Les Roberts, and why I write articles criticizing the other Democrats' difficulties in getting off their behinds and getting to work. I've been around for a few congressional elections, and I've seen the way many Democrats try to campaign through private meetings with "well placed" Democrats. I'm suspicious of campaigns that are not open.

So far, Les Roberts is the candidate who has been running the most energetic and most open campaign. So, yes, I have good things to say about the Les Roberts for Congress effort.

Let me issue an open invitation to the other campaigns. Get in touch with me. Build a web site. Send me a campaign letter. Do something more than popping a generic campaign advertisement on cable television. Give me something good to write about your campaigns, and I'll write it. Honest.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Koziol's Land Claims History Is Trouble For Campaign

At the close of 2005, rumors were gathering that Attorney Leon Koziol was planning to announce a campaign for Congress as a Democrat in the 24th District. Koziol's supporters seemed to be trying to set their man up as an underdog candidate to challenge the establishment campaign of Michael Arcuri.

In the first month of 2006, however, there has been relative silence from both candidates, and the Democrats of the 24th District have been left scratching their heads trying to figure out what the fuss was all about.

Michael Arcuri's campaign may have hit the dead end of the difficult realities Arcuri has to deal with as the recently re-elected District Attorney of Oneida County: A backlog of cases and an expectation among Democrats that he will actually get to work on the job he was just elected to do.

Koziol's problem in getting his own campaign started is unknown, but one problem certain to face him once his campaign gets in gear is his involvement as an attorney for Upstate Citizens for Equality, an organization opposed to the recognition of land claims by Native Americans in Upstate New York. I'm not about to choose sides in these disputes, but it should be clear that the land claim issue has proven to be poison to any politician who touches it. Koziol has been in the thick of the disastrous back and forth of failed negotiations, ruined compromises and high handed rhetoric that has kept this issue on the front page of New York State newspapers for years. Perhaps Koziol has qualities that can make up for this association, but there's no denying that it will be a burden from the start, if he should choose to go ahead with a campaign.

Since Koziol and Arcuri made their big blusters last year, Democrat Les Roberts has taken a dignified step forward to the head of the pack - not by blustering and bragging, but simply by getting a professional campaign together and setting it into motion.

Can Arcuri and Koziol make up the ground they have lost to Roberts? Time will tell, but time is quickly running out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Should our Congressman be a "Regular Guy?"

I'm seeing a trend in a recent spate of comments here at the blog. "Roberts seems like a good person but he comes across as a policy wonk and not a regular guy who "gets" the district," reads one comment. Another comment elsewhere describes Leon Koziol as "the one Democrat that can truly 'connect with citizens'", and a third comment describes Cortland mayor of possible Democratic candidate as "a true everyman".

Although the Democratic candidates for Congress this year are named Jeff, Les, Mike, Bruce, Leon and Brian, there seems to be a request that many of them share: Just call me Joe.

Well, I'm not buying it. Regardless of who is running for Congress, we can be sure that the candidate is not a regular guy. It takes an awful lot of skill and dedication to run for Congress, not to mention resources. Regular guys don't run for Congress.

Furthermore, I don't think we ought to have a regular guy representing us in the House of Representatives. There's a grave responsibility to serving in Congress that requires abilities that are well above the norm.

When it comes down to it, I have a strong distrust for politicians who pretend to be regular guys. It's a condescending act that shows disrespect for the voters. As we consider which Democrat should take on Sherwood Boehlert this November, let's remember that George W. Bush's campaign style includes the act of putting on regular guy affectations, like his fake Texas drawl (he was born and raised almost exclusively in Connecticut and went to elite private schools).

Let's look at substance, not which candidate has the most grease stains on his jeans, and wears the most convincing flannel shirt. Above all else, let's watch how well the different Democratic candidates are able to organize their campaigns. Somebody will have to take on an incumbent member of Congress, after all, and that's no easy game.

So far, some of these regular guy candidates in the 24th District are showing a distinct inability to get their acts together and actually communicate with the Democrats they want to represent. In a district that stretches from the center of the Adirondacks through to the core of the Finger Lakes region, a whole-district effectiveness is what will win the general election - not a few good old boy connections in one particular area.

I will note, as I have noted before, that only one of the Democratic candidates has actually taken the time to even construct a campaign web site to communicate across the vast distances of the 24th District: Les Roberts. As a result, the other Democrats are allowing bloggers like me to define their online presence.

It is beyond understanding to me that anyone who believes that he is capable of running for Congress would not be thinking about communicating to voters online at this stage in the game. If they are checking online, they should find this blog, and be concerned about what they are reading here - because I make it a matter of principle to goad Democratic politicians who are not working hard enough on their campaigns. If these Democrats are not checking online to see what kind of publicity their prenatal campaigns are getting, well then, they're not prepared to run for Congress...

...no matter how regular they are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Buzz Free Bruce Tytler To Run for Congress?

Last night, on an article related to the 24th District congressional campaign this year, an anonymous reader left the following message:

"From Cortland County, native of the district, educator Bruce Tytler is announcing a run, according to well placed democrats in the county. A true everyman, He will work tirelessly for the benefit of his district and bring forth the well of leadership to thirsty constituants.

So it is that the Bruce Tytler campaign for Congress is announced on the web. Seriously. This blog post that you're reading is only the second mention of the Tytler for Congress campaign available online. The first mention was at the comment on the article I previously mentioned on the New York Liberal web site.

Through a supporter's comments, the beans are spilled. Actually, I've been hearing rumors of a Cortland-based additional Democratic candidate for a couple days now, as I've been talking to people involved in the campaigns throughout the district. There's been nothing in my area's newspaper, though, and certainly nothing online.

Is this the way that the Tytler for Congress campaign means to announce itself? A bit more discipline will be called for in the future.

So, what do we know about Bruce Tytler? Well, I can see, by looking around on the web, that Tytler is the mayor of Cortland, and a long time participant in local Democratic politics. We also see here from this comment that Tytler is a teacher of some sort.

We also know that Tytler's supporters value the idea that their candidate is in touch with "well placed democrats". Pardon me, but what is a well placed Democrat? Rule one for campaigning: Don't insult the voters. The last thing that Democratic voters want to hear is that they are not well placed, that there are Democrats who matter much more than them. Democrats in the 24th District ought to get the message from their congressional candidate that the most well placed Democrats are the common place residents of 24th.

This comment also tells us that Tytler is an "everyman". Catch the contradiction? Tytler is supposed to be working with well placed Democrats, not the likes of you and me in the Democratic rabble, but he's also supposed to be an everyman, just an average Joe, working tirelessly.

Here's another suggestion to this anonymous Tytler supporter: An everyman does not work tirelessly. Ask any everyman you meet. An everyman is very, very tired these days, and chances are that he's working two jobs.

A final hint to Tytler's supporters: If you want to elect Bruce Tytler to the House of Representatives, you have to do so this year. Not last year. The election is in 2006, not 2005.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Will Mike Arcuri Campaign Through Smoke Filled Rooms?

Over in the Utica area, not coincidentally the political home base of supposed congressional candidate Michael Arcuri, the following message was anonymously posted on a discussion board:

"I think Mike will CRUSH Leon... It looks like the party is behind Mike and with that comes all power of Washington and the State. That will include access to fundraising and donor lists, phone banks, professional consultants, media consultants, speech writers. The national party will not like that a race they think they can win will have a primary. Leon better hope he doesn't have as much as a past book due at the library because the will be digging like a coal miner."

The Leon that we are told District Attorney Arcuri will crush is Leon Koziol, an attorney who apparently is also considering entering the Democratic competition about who gets to take on Republican Sherwood Boehlert in the general election this fall.

I can't predict what will happen in this year's Democratic primary in the 24th congressional district, of course, so I cannot really comment on the accuracy of what the anonymous writer claims. Rather, I wish to comment on the implications if the anonymous writer is correct, and Michael Arcuri will win through inside connections developed with the state and national Democratic Party apparatus.

Michael Arcuri, for all his vaunted access to speech writers and media consultants, has yet to take the most simple steps required to reach out the Democratic voters of the 24th District. He has no campaign web site, has made no policy speeches, and has held no public campaign events at all. Arcuri has yet to make an official announcement that he is indeed a candidate. Yet, we are supposed to believe that Arcuri is the Democratic frontrunner, even against Les Roberts, a Democrat with national prominence, international experience, and an increasingly formidible campaign organization.


It appears that Michael Arcuri is betting that he can win the Democratic nomination through back room dealing with powerful people in the Democratic Party. If that's truly the kind of campaign that Arcuri hopes to run against his Democratic rivals, it bodes ill for 24th District Democrats if he wins.

A Democratic nominee for Congress who has been chosen, groomed, and made powerful through investments from Democratic Party insiders will be, if elected, beholden to those Party insiders, not to the Democrats of the 24th District. Such a Democrat will not regard his victory as a matter of addressing the important issues that matter to Democratic voters. Instead, he will regard his victory as a matter of having powerful friends and the ability to get money from wealthy donors. I do not mean to make any accusations against Michael Arcuri, who may be as honest as the next person, but in general, the dependence upon the kind of smoke filled room campaign strategy Arcuri seems to be following so far is what has led to the culture of corruption that dominates the Republican Congress.

The Democrats of the 24th District, as is true with Democrats across America, need leaders who are accountable to the people, not to power brokers. Of course candidates need to make strategic connections with the leaders of their party, and of course they need to find ways to fund their campaigns. However, for a candidate to campaign solely on powerful connections and sources of cash, as Michael Arcuri seems to be doing so far, is damaging to the democratic process.

It will not be long now before the candidate filing deadline is come and gone, and the primary election is upon us. A further delay in public campaigning is folly. All those Democrats who are serious about vying for the nomination to compete against Sherwood Boehlert for a seat in the House of Representatives need to begin their appeal to the Democratic voters of the 24th District. A campaign web site is an easy and inexpensive first step. Public speeches and newspaper coverage would also be helpful in this regard.

So far, only one of the Democrats in the running, Les Roberts has begun such a public campaign. So far, Roberts looks like a good candidate, but there isn't much point of comparison to potential competitors like Michael Arcuri or, for that matter, Leon Koziol.

Until Arcuri, Koziol, and all the other Democrats who claim to be considering candidacy, actually begin public campaigns, all that I can accurately note is that they are exhibiting, so far, a dangerous dependence on back room dealing. To these candidates, I say: Let the sun shine in. Show us voters who you are, or get out of the race.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Will Sherwood Boehlert Defend the Rule of Law?

Over the last week, the parameters of what will be the the most important issue of the 2006 congressional elections were set.

First, Al Gore gave a powerful speech in Constitution Hall, sure to go down in history. During that speech, Gore called for the appointment of a special counsel to conduct a criminal investigation of the illegal wiretapping and electronic surveillance of Americans' emails by George W. Bush.

Second, a second nonpartisan report was released by the research arm of Congress. That report concluded that George W. Bush's program to spy against American citizens is certainly illegal. Another, similar report had previously come to the same conclusion.

Third, on Thursday, New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler sent a formal request to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that a special counsel be appointed to investigate the role of President Bush and Gonzales himself in planning and implementing the NSA program to spy against Americans. You can read Nadler's letter to Attorney General Gonzales here.

Fourth, it was revealed on Friday that President Bush and Alberto Gonzales had engaged in electronic surveillance against hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Americans when they requested databases containing information about what web sites Americans visit from the Google, Yahoo, and MSN search engines. Yahoo and MSN appear to have caved in to the demands of Bush and Gonzales, whereas the people at Google did the right thing, and told the Bush White House to take its spy program and stuff it.

As Al Gore put it, " the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently." Now, the question that we all must ask in the 24th District is: What is Sherwood Boehlert going to do about it?

Sherwood Boehlert pretends to be a moderate, although he has voted for some of the most extreme right wing legislation that has passed through Congress over the years. Boehlert voted for the Iraq War, though there was no evidence of need. Boehlert also voted for the infamous Patriot Act, which has unleashed gigantic but useless programs in the FBI and military intelligence communities to spy against law-abiding American political dissidents.

A true moderate does not sit by quietly while a grave crime is being committed. A true moderate does not look away and do nothing while extreme policies to undermine the very foundation of American liberty and democracy are being put into place.

If Sherwood Boelert wants to prove that he is a true moderate, then he will support Jerrold Nadler's request for the appointment of a special counsel. Given that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is himself a target of criminal investigation, the Department of Justice cannot conduct a fair and honest inquiry into the matter.

So far, Congressman Boehlert is quiet and inactive in the face of this serious Constitutional crisis. With every day that passes in which Boehlert does nothing and says nothing, he loses credibility.

The citizens of the 24th District cannot afford to be represented by a man who grows weak in the face of a moral challenge. The citizens of the 24th District cannot afford to be represented by a man who values power over principle. The citizens of the 24th District cannot afford to be represented by a man who is afraid to challenge the ideologues in his own political party.

The citizens of the 24th District cannot afford to be represented by Sherwood Boehlert any longer.

Testimonial for Les Roberts

I found this comment over at Daily Kos - a megablog, the size of which elicits some distrust in the reptilian corners of my brain. Still I thought it was worth sharing here, as a sincere grassroots endorsement of one of the Democratic candidates, a pretty good indication of the character of Les Roberts.

Dear friends,

I wanted to make everyone aware of a truly amazing man who is running for Congress in 2006 in NY state and who needs all the support he can get. Les Roberts was the most inspirational professor I've ever had (at the Hopkins school of public health). He has worked in every major humanitarian relief effort in past few decades, from the war in Congo to the Rwandan genocide. Most recently, he published a defying article in the journal The Lancet, where he went to Iraq and used scientific methods to estimate civilian mortality - something this administration has claimed is "impossible" to be done.

In order to have access to serious campaign funds he needs to raise $100,000, so I'd like to call on you to read a little more about him (see links below), spread the word, and help out, if you can.

Campaign website

Interview on Democracy Now

Summary of Lancet article (with links to full text)

Many thanks!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hear Candidate Les Roberts as Expert on NPR

Sometimes I wonder if the people of New York's 24th District realize the kind of illustrious neighbors they are lucky to have. It turns out that the 24th District has been home to some of the most accomplished people in the world. Harriet Tubman and Secretary Seward are two of the best known examples from history, but what about now? Count Les Roberts among them.

You may not know Les Roberts by name, but you know his work. Roberts was the lead researcher on a Johns Hopkins study that concluded that huge numbers of civilians have been killed during the course of the Iraq War. His study, released in 2004, changed the whole debate about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. When it comes to the Iraq War, the work of Les Roberts has been at the center of the debate. At a time when the Bush Administration is trying to keep information about the war from the American people, Les Roberts and his team blew the lid open on the true extent of the violence in Iraq that has been unleashed since the invasion.

Don't take my word for it. Thanks to a link on the Les Roberts campaign site, you can hear what a show on National Public Radio had to say about the work of Les Roberts. It's from an hour-long program of This American Life on civilian casualties in Iraq, and the Les Roberts was the featured speaker. I first heard the show while I was driving to the store last year, and it was so powerful that I kept driving the entire hour so that I wouldn't miss a minute of it.

As a scientist, Les Roberts has spent his career conducting research that has been presented to top policy makers in the American government, and has influenced the national debate on many issues of public health and foreign policy. He would make an excellent replacement for Sherwood Boehlert on the House Committee on Science.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Where is Jeff Miller?

I've got a simple request for Jeff Miller:

In or out.

Professor Miller, who is a genuinely nice guy, has been suggesting for quite some time now that he will make an announcement about whether he will run for the Democratic nomination to defeat Sherwood Boehlert in the general election in the 24th District this fall.

Miller ran and lost against Boehlert in the 2004 election.

In a newspaper article on the 7th of January, Jeff Miller said that he would make an announcement in about a week.

That was thirteen days ago - and still no word from Miller.

Listen, Jeff, I sympathize with the difficulty of this decision, but if you can't make up your mind, then the default decision ought to be not to run. After all, there are at least three other Democrats running for the nomination. You've had your shot. If you can't know for sure whether to run after over a year of consideration, then the answer is clear: You're not prepared.

Take it easy on yourself, Jeff. Run with everything that you've got, and start today, or stay at home with your lovely family and lend your support to a more organized Democrat.

Sherwood Boehlert's Power is Past Expiration Date

Sherwood Boehlert's once powerful incumency seems to be coming apart at the seams.

The only reason that the progressive 24th District, which stretches from the Herkimer in the Adirondacks through Cortland and Auburn around Cayuga Lake and to Tompkins County, has given Congressman Boehlert victories in the past is that Boehlert's PR machine has people convinced that good old Sherry Boehlert has been an adequate advocate for university programs in the area.

Of course, that claim has been debunked thoroughly. In fact, as chair of the House Committee on Science, Sherwood Boehlert has reigned over huge cuts in science budgets and done nothing to stop attacks against scientific integrity by the Bush Administration.

Well, okay, okay, Congressman Boehlert has been a complete failure as chair of the House Science Committee, but still, as the chair of that committee, Sherwood Boehlert would keep bringing home lots of money to 24th District colleges and universities, right?

Wrong. What Sherwood Boehlert hates to admit to his constituents is that he is scheduled to step down as chair of the House Science committee, even if he wins re-election. You see, there are such things in the House of Representatives as term limits for committee chairs, and Sherwood Boehlert's term is past its expiration date. That means, citizens of the 24th District, no more money from Sherwood Boehlert.

As Steven Harmon, a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press, tells his readers, another Republican, Congressman Vernon Ehlers, is expected to take over from Boehlert - whether or not Sherwood Boehlert gets re-elected.

Of course, that presumes that the Republicans are able to hold onto their majority control of the House of Representatives. It doesn't look like that's going to happen this year. So, even if Sherwood Boehlert does get re-elected, and he manages to fend off Vernon Ehlers, and defy the House ethics rules, good old Sherry Boehlert will just get replaced by a Democrat anyway.

If you care about science, research and other educational budgets in New York's District 24, the last thing you want to do is vote for Sherwood Boehlert. Boehlert has failed to deliver in the past, and what little power he has will be taken away from him later this year. That's why, at schools across District 24, Sherwood Boehlert is getting a new nickname to reflect his weakness in Congress.

They're calling him Sherwood "Floppy" Boehlert. Is that who you want representing you in Congress? Congressman Floppy?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sherwood Boehlert Fails Science

In the 24th District we have many colleges and universities. Unfortunately, many of our residents who work in those colleges and universities, even Democrats, have been duped into thinking that Sherwood Boehlert represents their interests well on Capitol Hill. As chair of the House Science committee, Sherwood Boehlert has the responsibility of promoting a vigorous role of science in the federal government. But how well has Sherwood Boehlert succeeded in that role.

Put simply, Sherwood Boehlert has failed miserably in his duty as chair of the Science committee. Boehlert, time and again, has failed to promote the interests of science and education.

Sherwood Boehlert's supposed achievements have been undone by his superiors in the Republican Party, and Congressman Boehlert does not have enough power to contest their will.

For example, a couple of years ago, Sherwood Boehlert bragged that he had doubled the budget of the National Science Foundation. But later, when Boehlert looked at the budgets that his own political party approved, he found that that National Science Foundation money was stripped out of the budget. In short, Boehlert has such little power in Congress that no one pays attention to his requests. His Republican colleagues simply overrule anything positive Boehlert tries to do for science.

Sherwood Boehlert was recently quoted as saying that he regards the federal science and technology budget for fiscal year 2006 as "not very adequate." Well, that's nice for him to complain, but who's fault is it that science budgets have been hacked and slashed by the Republicans. The answer is simple: It is Sherwood Boehlert's fault.

Sherwood Boehlert is a Republican chair of the science committee in the House of Representatives. If Boehlert had any skill as a politician, he would be able to ensure that the science budget was adequate, year after year. But Boehlert is not at all skillful in his work on Capitol Hill. He's more like Casper Milquetoast, and gets run over by more powerful Republicans like Dennis Hastert time after time. What good does that do for the people of the 24th District? If Sherwood Boehlert is tired, he ought to retire, and let somebody else do the job.

Consider also that, under the Bush Administration, science has come under an unprecedented attack. From the White House down, scientific methods and findings are ripped apart in the name of the right wing agenda. Throughout the federal government, scientists are complaining that they are being asked to edit their findings and reports in order to satisfy the political agendas of the Republican Party.

And what has Sherwood Boehlert done about it? Nothing. Nothing.

It is Sherwood Boehlert's responsibility, as chair of the science committee in the House of Representatives, to exercise oversight of all matters pertaining to science in the Executive Branch. Congressman Boehlert has completely failed to do so. Boehlert ought to be holding meetings, and bringing White House officials in to his committee to answer for their abuses of power in forcing scientists to serve political interests.

But, Sherwood Boehlert has failed to do so. Why? It's simple, really. Sherwood Boehlert gets big campaign donations from Republicans, and he doesn't want to defend them. So, Sherwood Boehlert has looked the other way while science has come under attack.

Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, it makes no sense to support Sherwood Boehlert. If you're a Republican, you ought to oppose Sherwood Boehlert because he is too weak in Congress to make a difference. If you're a Democrat, you ought to oppose Sherwood Boehlert because he opposes the progressive values that Democrats share.

Congressman Sherwood Boehlert isn't doing anyone any good. It is time for him to go home, where he can't do any more harm.

Sherwood Boehlert is the Lowest Hanging Fruit

Les Roberts, at the Sego Cafe in Oneonta on January 9, told a crowd of supporters,

"Sherwood Boehlert is the lowest-hanging fruit on the Republican tree."

Les Roberts, one of the Democrats vying to take on Sherwood Boehlert in this year's general election for Congress, is right. The problem with Sherwood Boehlert is summed up as follows:

1. Boehlert is a Republican, and as such, lends support unsavory, corrupt politicians like Tom DeLay and Randy Cunningham.

2. Boehlert isn't even a very powerful Republican, and so does not have a lot of weight with his GOP colleagues in Washington, D.C.

3. However, as a Republican member of Congress, Sherwood Boehlert is likely to lose what little power he does have in Congress, as the Democrats are predicted to regain control of the House of Representatives this year. Sherwood Boehlert will be the lowest-hanging fruit on the lowest bough on the congressional tree.

David Grodsky, a man from Morris, saw Les Roberts speak in Oneonta, and his words sum up the attitude across New York's 24th District this year: "It’s time for a change. We need a different congressman."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Who is running against Sherwood Boehlert?

Okay, so we know that, above all else, the people of New York State's 24th congressional district do NOT want Sherwood Boehlert to represent them in Congress anymore.

That said, who is going to take on Sherwood Boehlert in the general election this fall?

Oh, good question. A lot of good Democrats are signing up for duty to campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 24th District this November. Here are some possibilities:

Jeff Miller - professor of communications at Utica College, and the 2004 Democratic nominee for the House of Representatives. Really nice guy, intelligent, and sincerely dedicated to progressive values, with a family that's as cute as the Dickens.
Brian Goodell - Union leader from Lansing. Ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004 against Jeff Miller, but withdrew after the Democratic county committees all gave their endorsements to Jeff Miller. Hope that doesn't happen this time - the voters of the 24th District deserve a chance to make their own selection, instead of Democratic Party insiders making the choice for them, don't you think?
Les Roberts - Nationally recognized figure whose epidemiological studies of the effects of war have involved him in many important issues in the federal government. Best known for his in-the-field research into civilian casualties in Iraq, Roberts has been to Iraq himself, as well as to Afghanistan, and other war zones, which is more than many members of Congress can say. Les Roberts seems the candidate with the best credentials to deal with issues of national and international importance, and has the best campaign organization so far. For example, none of the other Democratic candidates even has a web site up for their campaigns, and it's just nine months and counting until the general election, with just over six months until the Democratic primary.
Mike Arcuri - District Attorney for Oneida County, keeps on saying that he's going to run, but then nothing happens. Seems to be having problems getting his campaign started. Perhaps the demands of being a DA are a bit too much?
Leo Koziol - He's an attorney, and people say he's determined to go for the Democratic nomination all the way to the primary. Otherwise, he's a bit of a cipher.

The Democratic primary is in September, and the filing deadline is a couple of months before that. So, now is the time for you to figure out which Democrat running in the 24th District you want to help. When I say help, I mean help. Don't just donate money. Volunteer! There's a lot of work to be done between then and now.

Take Back the 24th!

Welcome to Take Back the 24th!

This blog is dedicated to the effort to take back New York State's 24th Congressional District from the Republicans, who have neglected our part of central New York State for too long.

Take a look at the record of Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, and you'll see that he just doesn't represent the values of New York State anymore. As other New York bloggers have pointed out before me, Sherwood Boehlert has a terrible record of siding with the right wing of the Republican Party, especially since George W. Bush took the White House in 2000.

Congressman Boehlert adds to the problem of the culture of corruption when he votes alongside Tom DeLay as part of the same political agenda. Some people say that the citizens of New York State's 24th Congressional District should just learn to put up with this kind of nonsense.

I say we can do better.

I say that we must do better than Sherwood Boehlert.

The time is over when we can accept Boehlert's excuses for failure.

The time has come to take back New York's 24th!