What does NYRI stand for? Nonstop Yawning Reaction Issue. That's what's going on outside of of the corner of New York's 24th district that serves as home base to both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri.
Oh, sure, in the northeast fringe of the 24th District, the NYRI debate is roaring strong. Elsewhere, most likely voters haven't even heard of the controversy, and even those who have heard about it don't care about it much.
And then, what are Arcuri and Meier doing on the NYRI issue? They're arguing over who opposes the NYRI project the most. Mike Arcuri's latest statements on the issue are supposed to be slams against Ray Meier, but to most of the district, they sound more like a hissy fit over nitpicky details. Arcuri says that, yes, Ray Meier opposes the NYRI, just like Arcuri, but accuses Meier of supporting other energy infrastructure projects at other times in other places that aren't at issue now.
This is not the kind of stuff that sticks in the minds of voters. It's not the kind of material that strongly differentiates candidates from each other.
In terms of election strategy, playing around with this issue brings the congressional candidates down to the level of local politics, and threatens to derail both campaigns.
1. The number of voters who care about this issue enough to affect their choice of candidate is too small to carry victory
2. Most voters who care about this issue are already familiar with Arcuri and Meier and have likely already decided which congressional candidate they support
3. The difference between Arcuri and Meier on this issue is so slight that it's difficult for voters to tell how it favors one over the other
4. The connection of this intrastate issue to the interstate and international jurisdiction of the House of Representatives is not easy to communicate to voters
5. Most voters in the district just don't give a damn
6. Undue focus on the NYRI issue is distracting the candidates from issues that have a district-wide appeal
Democrats from outside Michael Arcuri's home turf are getting downright bored with this campaign, finding little to get motivated about. We've had one Democratic County Committee member admit that he doesn't know what to say to voters about where Michael Arcuri stands on the issues. Another Democratic Committee member, Mary Ann from Dryden, notes that her petition to get Arcuri on the ballot is lying on her kitchen table, blank. She just can't bring herself to get excited about Michael Arcuri's candidacy.
The reason is simple: Mike Arcuri isn't giving us Democrats much to get excited about. This is a pathetic state of affairs for an open seat in an election year where anger at the Republican Congress is strong. With just barely over four months to go before Election Day, what was once a red hot race with lots of action has cooled down to near freezing.
It's time for Michael Arcuri to graduate from his past as a local politician and show that he has the kind of vision and leadership that deserves our support. A shouting match over who hates the NYRI most won't do it. A plan to expand sections of route 12 won't do it. Arcuri needs to stop playing tiddlywinks with these local fringe issues, stand up, and start acting like a statesman instead of like a member of the Utica City Council.