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.