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.


Anonymous said...

real quick thoughts. I have met les roberts and he is a nice and intelligent guy, with decent ideas. I know a lot about DA Arcuri and know some of the folks in the campaign who are not smoke filled room types. Either one of them would be excellent choices to run in the 24th. Both will have the ability to bring in outside the district money which will definately be needed to win the seat. The fact that much of the griping on the blogs about no candidate having a website but Roberts seems a little silly to me. Roberts was talking about running since November sometime, but did not have a website up until late december or early January and at first it was only a "temporary/under construction site." There was little talk of Arcuri running until maybe early to mid December. Roberts took the time polish up on the issues, develop a staff and start contacting people in the district to create a base of support. All before he put together a website. With that in mind, why is it so rediculous to think that Arcuri or any of the other candidates is not doing the same. Just because Les Roberts jumped in to the race earlier does not make him the best candidate, it just means he jumped in earlier. Democrats in this district do not have the luxury of harping on petty things such as who has a website up first. Give all the candidates a chance to become fully educated on all the issues and intricacies of a diverse and expansive district and when they do decide who will be best for the district and who is the most capable person to "take back New York's 24th". The objective is to turn the 24th blue in November, not stain it with red democrat blood in January.

Also, It is become increasingly more unlikely that boehlert is going to run again. I would like to see somethign on who you think may run other than Jones. I have heard Seward, Meier. Maybe Joe Griffo, but probably not(he is just speculation on my part.) But what about others from outside of the Oneida/Herkimer county area? That would be an interesting topic, at least better than who has websites.

24 Independent said...

Yes, all these matters are important, and you'll see a bit of discussion about it at the article I wrote yesterday about the emerging Walter Rich scandal. However, I'm not going to get too far into the territory of who I have heard might be considering running - those few who rise to real possibility and have given some kind of public statement - even that they will later give a public statement - are enough. (sorry, too many dashes, too early in the morning)

I disagree with you that the matter of web sites doesn't matter. It matters, because it's the one way that voters have to conveniently access information about candidates. Contact with voters is a crucial issue, because it tells a lot about who the candidate is.

Timing is essential, too. In my opinion, candidates tend to overestimate the amount of time they've got, and end up taking it too slow at the beginning, only to end up in a mad race at the end. Up around Watertown, Dr. Bob Johnson began his campaign the day after Election Day 2004. That's really how it ought to be. Thinking ahead is a crucial political skill.