I've spent the last few days trying to wash the accumulated filth from the Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri campaigns off of me, and today comes the signing of the hideous Military Commissions Act into law - which both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier support.
The Democratic Party leadership in our district has done nothing for us on this law. Not a peep of resistance. The Republicans have given a deep bow of gratitude in respect for the passing of our liberty, gone away...
And so, this day of disgusting weakness from both Democrats and Republicans alike leads me to examine one of the most important issues of this campaign: Constituent services.
Oh, I'm not talking about the nasty kind of constituent services that involve getting a job for your kid in return for writing big checks for the campaign of the victor. That's clearly motivated loyalists in the campaigns of both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier from the start.
I'm talking about genuine constituent services: Meeting with constituents, listening to their concerns, and doing something about it.
First, let's get something straight about what part of this district is being represented in Congress: Oneida County. If you live outside of Oneida County, don't bet on getting many constituent services, whether it's Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier who gets elected to Congress. From the start, this race has been obsessively focused on the northeastern corner of the district, to the neglect of the rest of the district.
Both Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier say that they'll provide lots and lots and lots of constituent services. Talk is cheap. Let's look at their actual performance working with the public as candidates.
Ray Meier has shown a lot more openness in general, especially when it comes to dealing with the press. Michael Arcuri's campaign has refused contacts from people in the media wanting to ask questions about Arcuri's position on the issues. Throughout the campaign Michael Arcuri's strategy has been to say as little as possible, and to run an underground campaign that avoids scrutiny.
The attitude from the Arcuri for Congress campaign seems to have been that the less contact Mike Arcuri has with voters outside social circle of the Democratic Party Committees throughout the district, the better. Michael Arcuri's campaign shut down the discussion board on his campaign web site when constituents started asking questions that made Arcuri feel uncomfortable. Expect the same from Mike Arcuri if he's elected to Congress.
Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri both have chosen not to publicize their campaign appearances beforehand, relying on their party faithful to bring only voters who are likely to be supportive to campaign events. This approach to campaigning is disgustingly reminiscent of President Bush's tour to promote his scheme to destroy Social Security - only Republican-friendly audience members were informed of the scheduled stops ahead of time. Ray Meier has never had a campaign calendar up. Michael Arcuri? Oh, he had a campaign event calendar up, but he never put any events on it.
The Arcuri for Campaign's web development team at Quadsimia has been so pathetically clumsy that they still have a link to the campaign event calendar at the bottom of the front page of the campaign web site. Hint to anyone who wants to run for Congress in the future: Above all else, do not hire Quadsimia! They've screwed up the Arcuri for Congress web site from day one. In general, neither Mike Arcuri nor Ray Meier seem very aware or very interested in online outreach, which is a shame, given the terrible, stretched-out geography of our district. Remembering Ray Meier's prolonged "Hello World!" debut online still brings winces from area Republicans. Both Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri seem more comfortable in the old era of communications by fax, mimeograph and written memoranda, not at all equipped to work with a district that's economic hopes lie in no small part in the promises of the geographic neutrality of work in the online world.
Both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri are more connected to the national political party structures than they are to constituencies here in the district - with the exception of Utica politics, which looks like a really dirty pool. Count on both Ray Meier and Michael Arcuri to vote more according to the demands of the political action groups and party congressional campaign committees than the needs of us here in New York's 24th district.
Michael Arcuri's campaign does have this to say in its favor: It has taken fewer political action committee donations than Ray Meier's campaign. Michael Arcuri's campaign has taken just 36% of its donations from PACs, while Ray Meier's campaign has taken a whopping 52% of its dollars from PACS. Of course, many of the PAC donations that Arcuri has taken are rather sinister - the big check written from Joseph Lieberman's right wing New Democrats is a pretty big stinker, for example.
All in all, don't expect much in the way of genuine constituent services from either Ray Meier or Michael Arcuri - they know where their bread gets buttered, and it isn't in your kitchen. Expect a lot of bluster about jobs and developments, but little accessibility for real discussions with your new representative, no matter who wins.
Neither candidate has shown much propensity for respect for the voters in this election, whether it comes to Michael Arcuri's failure to even show up at the agricultural issues debate and insults hurled at the NAACP or to Ray Meier's thousand-dollar-per-plate dinners.
What Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri wants to tell you is that neither of them would have much power as a freshman member of the House of Representatives. We'll experience many years of a lean pork diet here in the 24th district, until someone can establish seniority, and start a dole of the big bucks for their cronies.