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.