Take Back Congress - New York

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Leon Koziol Fails the Contact Test: From Take Back New York's 24th

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:

Prospective Democratic candidate 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.


From Take Back the 24th

We've Got Numbers!

And the Financial reports are officially in:
  • Palomma Capanna - raised $22,744, spent $2,373, Cash on Hand $20,371
  • Dan Maffei - raised $100,403, spent $4,014, Cash on Hand $96,388
  • Jim Walsh - raised $298,005, spent $253,187, Cash on Hand $508,704
  • Ken Howland - report not available or none filed

Dan Maffei has raised an impressive sum for only being in the race for a short while. Palomma Capanna will need to increase her numbers next quarter if she expects to be competitive. Mr. Walsh raised a lot, but he also spent a lot, he must be worried. More later after I've had time to look through the reports.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

The Walsh Watch

I began my blog The Walsh Watch a few weeks ago in order to hold Jim Walsh accountable. Mr. Walsh has lost touch with Central New York and sold us out by voting with out of touch special interest and the Republican Culture of Corruption first and his constituents a distance second. I post there daily, sometimes more, and I will be crossposting most of them at this blog as well. So please check out my blog. Here are some blog entries that may interest you:

Culture of Corruption Connection:
Jim Joins Team Corruption
Jim Hearts Tom
Can't Shake the Stank
The Hits Just Keep On Coming

And here are Jim Walsh's potential opponents:
Dan Maffei
Palomma Cappana
Ken Howland

Another Corrupt Lobbyist

This time it's a New York local. The Times Union's blog Capitol Confidential has this to say:

More trouble is coming down the track for Cooperstown short-line railroad head Walter Rich, whose fundraising and gift-giving are under scrutiny by the state lobbying commission.

A book is about to be published by Rich’s former railroad police chief, David K. Butler, called “Railroaded in Cooperstown.'’ The book will detail alleged safetycover-ups, corruption and fundraising scandals led by Rich.

Of course, Mr. Walsh has accepted money from. It's time to give back the dirty money, Jim.

Crossposted at The Walsh Watch.

Take 19: Back to work....

Well, it's been six long weeks since Congress went out on recess. But all good things have to come to an end eventually and Sue Kelly and her colleagues are headed back to the hallowed halls of Congress. What's on the agenda for the second session of the 109th Congress? Here's a brief look at two key votes:

--Sue gets another shot at voting to cut $40 billion from the budget. This would cut $12.7 billion from federal student loan programs -- the largest cut ever -- at a time that college costs are rising sharply. Medicaid would be cut by $7 billion and funding for Medicare and child support enforcement would also be cut sharply. The House is voting on this again because the Senate made several changes to an earlier budget bill. Sue's already voted twice here and here in favor of these drastic cuts, so it's unlikely she'll suddenly have a change of heart the third time around.

--More tax cuts for the wealthy. The House will vote on extending tax cuts on capital gains and dividends, even though those tax cuts are not set to expire for another two years. Kelly voted to approve this once before. There's no reason to believe she won't do it again.

With these types of irresponsible votes, maybe we're all better off when Sue is on vacation.

Walter Rich to Become New York's Abramoff? - From Take Back the 24th

It looks like the 24th District's congressman, incumbent Republican Sherwood Boehlert, may soon be joining the likes of Randy Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Tom DeLay - as a suspect in a rapidly spreading corruption probe.

This corruption scandal does not have a direct connection to Jack Abramoff - yet. In this case, the corrupt lobbyist under investigation is Walter Rich, a railroad boss who is under investigation by the by the New York State lobbying commission on possible corruption charges.

The commission has asked Rich to turn over records of who stayed and ate at his mansion and in other lodgings he arranged around Cooperstown during a Baseball Hall of Fame event, and got free tickets to local events. It is against New York State law for lobbyists to give public officials gifts of over 75 dollars in worth, as the lodgings, meals and tickets surely were. These events will likely prove to be the New York State equivalent of Jack Abramoff's golf vacations in Scotland given to public servants.

It is widely expected that Sherwood Boehlert's name will be among those who were given illegal gifts by Walter Rich. Sherwood Boehlert is among those who are known to have held fundraisers in Rich's mansion.

These allegations come at the same time that David Butler, a former railroad police chief who worked for Walter Rich, is preparing to release a new book, Railroaded in Cooperstown. Butler's book promises to reveal chronic safety violation cover-ups, corruption, and illegal political fundraising orchestrated by Rich.

It is alleged that Walter Rich required his employees to give political donations to politicians, possibly including Sherwood Boehlert. Was that kind of corruption the secret behind Sherwood Boehlert's fundraising machine?

The commission will hold a public meeting Feb. 8. Look for more information then.

Thanks to Capitol Confidential for the tip.



Republican political cannibals who are eager to profit from Sherwood Boehlert's apparently imminent downfall might want to look at the connnections their own prospective candidates. State Senator James Seward, who has been named as a possible Republican successor to Sherwood Boehlert, is also named in David Butler's book, and may soon become the subject of a corruption probe himself.


From Take Back New York's 24th

Monday, January 30, 2006

From Take Back the 24th: Sherwood Boehlert Rumored to Be Pulling Out

Tom Grace of the Daily Star over in Oneonta dropped a bomb on the 24th District congressional district this weekend with his article suggesting that incumbent Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert is likely to quit the race, and not seek re-election in 2006. Sam Marchio, a spokesman for Representative Boehlert, has said that there will be an announcement sometime in March, when the House of Representatives is in recess.

Grace cites Boehlert's strong challengers within the Republican Party, and Boehlert's apparent difficulties gathering donations for his campaign. With Boehlert losing the chairmanship of the House Committee on Science, his ability to bring money into the district is greatly diminished, and donors appear to doubt that Boehlert has the clout necessary to gain another influential chairmanship.

Republican Brad Jones, former mayor of Seneca Falls, is already challenging Sherwood Boehlert for the Republican nomination, and has raised about 90,000 dollars. Republicans who are considering running for the GOP nomination, assuming Sherwood Boehlert's retirement, are state senators James Seward and Raymond Meier.

Whether or not Boehlert continues his re-election campaign, it looks like the race is wide open on the Republican side. Chances are increasing that the Republicans will nominate a right wing ideologue, making it more difficult for the Republicans to hold onto this seat in the general election.

From Take Back New York's 24th District

From Take Back the 24th: Bruce Tytler Conspiracy?

This morning, someone calling himself of herself "Tytlerwatcher" left the following message at the Take Back the 24th Blog:

"You should check out the speculation about Bruce Tytler at the Syracuse.com Cortland County Forum. It appears he is destined to run for Congress, gather donations, drop out of the race and give the money to the Cortland County Democratic Committee that can't raise money under Bill Wood.

Tytler was the one term Mayor of Cortland who spent his entire term tied up by a battle with the Water Board and accomplished nothing."

Rumor has it that Bruce Tytler is currently considering a campaign for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican incumbent Representative Sherwood Boehlert in this year's election. Rumor, apparently, also has a bit else to say about Bruce Tytler.

I have seen this kind of idea discussed elsewhere on the web, perhaps by the same person, perhaps by someone different. At the discussion boards at Syracuse.com, for example, I found the following comments:

"Rumors abound that Mr. Tytler running for congress is nothing more then a ruse to raise money for the politcal party locally. The rumor is that Mr. Wood and his reputation have reached the tipping point where anything with his name on it can't garner any real support. Political gamesmanship and his Pyric Democratic Committee aside, he can't get the real party faithful to give him the time of day muchless a monotary donation. The ruse is to have Mr. Tytler "run" for this congressional seat but only go through the motions, so as not to spend all the donations he has taken in. Before the primary takes place it is rumored that he will bow out of the race, finally realizing what any politcal student already knows, a Democrat can't win this seat. With the money he has left in his coffers, he can by law, legally donate that money back to the local Democratic Party i.e. one Mr. William Wood. The joke will be on all of those who thought that Bruce was a candidate of substance and principle and once again, Mr. Wood like a theif in the night thwart all people of any decency. Remember, this is just a rumor however, heard while dinning at a local eatery in the first block of Main St. at the begining of the one-way section."

Is there any evidence for some kind of conspiracy by Bruce Tytler to defraud campaign donors? I haven't seen any. What there is evidence for is a coordinated, but underhanded, attack in the style of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

This looks to me like a desperate maneuver by a supporter of one of the other Democratic candidates who is afraid that a Bruce Tytler candidacy would take away valuable attention. The attacks are clearly coming from a resident of Cortland who has a grudge against Democratic Committee chair Bill Wood.

To this attacker, I say: Whatever your agenda, this is not the way to promote it. If Bruce Tytler is not fit to represent the 24th District Democrats in the general congressional election this year, we will find that out when he starts campaigning. If Bill Wood is not to your liking, then gather up a group of Democrats who will support you, and make a run for his position.

Democracy works best in the open, not under the veil of whisper campaigns.

From Take Back New York's 24th

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Take Back Congress - New York is Begun

The project of Take Back Congress is simple, but not easy: To serve as a center for news about congressional campaigns to take back the Congress from corrupt Republican rule across New York State.

Take Back Congress - New York is not intended to be the work of just one person, but rather, the cooperative project of otherwise unassociated progressive bloggers across New York State. This blog is not a replacement for those blogs, but instead to be a place that helps those blogs that are dedicated to the electoral struggles in particular congressional districts gain more prominence.

This blog also is intended to serve as an easy to follow resource for readers who are interested in the latest news about congressional races across New York State, and the progressive efforts across New York to be part of the nationwide effort to replace the Republican majority in Congress with a more stable, less corrupt alternative that can begin the long process of bringing America back to its traditional place of liberty, justice, and the rule of law for all - no matter how weak or how powerful.

If you have a progressive or Democratic blog that is dedicated to covering a congressional race going on somewhere in New York State, or if you know of one that we ought to add, leave us a note in the comments section, and we'll send you information about how to become part of this collaboration.

Look to see the first content for Take Back Congress - New York in just a few days from now.

It's going to be an exciting year.