Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Morris Guller to visit Iraq

Morris Guller just sent me this press release...

At a debate of candidates for the 20th Congressional District on Wednesday June 14th in Hudson, New York the participants were asked abut their stand on the war in Iraq and their commitment to that stand.

Morris Guller (D) Lexington answered that he was vehemently opposed to the war from its onset and announced that he has scheduled a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan for August 10th through August 17th.

Guller made his arrangements independently but contacted the Public Affairs Department of the Department of State, the US Army, US Central Command, and the Department of Defense to inquire if he could, in fact, go. Guller has spoken with the US Embassy in both countries according to a spokesperson.

Guller said he hopes to include visits with New York troops from Fort Drum and Fort Hood and get a sense of the situation in both countries.

Travel arrangements are set; however, the actual itinerary is still in progress.
"Mr. Guller hopes to have the opportunity to meet with one or more members of the newly elected Iraqi government during his two day stay there. To that end we are making the necessary inquiries" a Guller spokesperson said.

Guller said he opposes the war because it was based on a lie and our young women and men shouldn't have to die for a lie. "I'd like to bring them all home with me on the 17th but I know I cannot" Guller added.

"I will be in both countries for only two days each. I have an idea of what I want to accomplish by going over there" Guller said. My opponent (US Rep. John E. Sweeney) has taken the trip and I want to have the same feel for the situation as he does. Guller concluded.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sweeney gets nearly a quarter of the Democratic vote?!

Recently the Saratoga County Republican Committee had a poll conducted by Zogby International showing that Sweeney has a 2-1 lead over the presumed Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand. (The other two long-shot Democratic candidates, Morris Guller and Edwin Pell were never included in the poll, but perhaps it would have been quite interesting to see how they would have faired up to Sweeney in comparison to Gillibrand)

Of course, the poll did not make me happy - in fact, I was quite angry, mad and depressed for an entire day after hearing Sweeney had a 2-1 lead over Gillibrand. Nobody knows how much I want to see the "Miami Mob Boss" gone and history! Regardless, I happen to disagree with other Kossiacs about the poll being skewed. I spent a couple of hours pondering over the data and UNFORTUNATELY for the most part it was quite accurate. The Zogby poll shows Spitzer with about a 70% approval rating in the 20th District, and Hillary with about a 51% approval, which surely wouldn't have been this high if it contained a Republican bias. (Hillary was actually defeated by 18% in this district in 2000) Saratoga County, which comprised 31% of the poll's respondants, in fact, contrary to some claims, was not oversampled, as according the State Board of Elections website, 141,316 out of 456,144 voters, or 31% of the district's residents reside there.

One of the most depressing aspects of the poll, however, was seeing that Sweeney was favored over Gillibrand by about 24% of Democrats, almost a quater of the Democratic base (with about another quarter of the Democratic base undecided). This surely is not good. With such a huge Republican registration and party ID advantage in the 20th district of New York, in order for a Democratic candidate to win we need the exact opposite to happen - we need about a quarter of self-identified Republicans to crossover and vote for the Democratic candidate, along with about 60-70% of independent and third party voters. The best indication of a district's political lean is party ID, not registration, as registration figures often don't necessarily reflect the current political leanings of an area (you have to keep in mind, there are still dozens of "Democratic" districts throughout the South which haven't voted Democratic in federal elections since the Reagan era). According the Zogby poll, 49% of respondents indentify themselves as Republicans, 31% indentify themeselves as Democrats, and 20% indentify themselves as Independents. Essentially, if Sweeney simply just holds down the Republican base, he wins.

For the most part, it is fair to say that Mrs. Gillibrand has her work cut out for her. Let's not deny the truth. If we want to defeat Sweeney, we as progressives must be open-minded and should be able to face the fact that we are quite behind right now, and must work quickly to improve the situation. Let's turn a negative into a positive and make this poll something which energizes us. Perhaps this poll could be a blessing in disguise - if it were never conducted or released we surely wouldn't know how much work we needed to do right now to succeed this November.

Here, however, are some ways I think that Gillibrand can make inroads into the Republican base and solidify her Democratic base...

1.) Gillibrand must get some name recognition SOON! - One of the major advantages Sweeney has over Gillibrand is just simply the fact that everybody knows who he is, regardless of whether they love him or they hate him. Name recongnition, in fact, can be enough for somebody to pull down the lever for a particular candidate at the ballot box - people are almost always more likely to vote for someone who they are familiar with more than somebody who they know nothing about. So far, only 32% of respondents of the poll have even heard of Gillibrand. To a great degree, I think her campaign is making a major mistake by not combating Sweeney's current extensive advertising program. (And she has the money to do it - last time I checked, the Gillibrand campaign has about $700,000 in the bank) In fact, this morning I heard five or six Sweeney ads! It seems quite obvious that what Sweeney is doing right now through his advertising is framing - he will bombard the airwaves with a series of positive ads painting himself as this "humble, blue collar, son of a factory worker from Troy" probably followed by a series of attack ads labeling Gillibrand as an "elitist trial lawyer from New York City." We can't let the Sweeney campaign try to frame the election. Gillibrand must introduce herself to the public soon soon that people are able to see her in a positive light, before the Sweeney crew does it for her in a negative manner. As we all know, in politics, first impressions are everything.

One thing I did find fascinating though, is that the poll showed Gillibrand and Sweeney running very close in Delaware County, one of the biggest bastions of Republicanism in the state. Bush, in fact did better in Delaware county than most other counties in the 20th District in 2004, receiving 56% to Kerry's 41%. (By contrast, district-wide Bush received 53% to Kerry's 46%) So, why, as we may all ask, is Gillibrand doing so much in better in Delaware County than in most other counties of the district, despite the county's very heavy Republican lean? NAME RECOGNITION. The poll shows Gillibrand is more well-known in Delaware County than any other county in the district. She has also made many more trips there than to most other counties in our district. Perhaps all those trips are paying off. Now she needs to become more well-known in the northern, more heavily populated portions of the district (Saratoga, Warren, and Washington Counties). And despite what people say about the northern portion of the district being a "black hole" for Democrats because the registration figures show the biggest gap between Republican and Democratic enrollment up here, Jean Bordewich actually won Warren and Washington Counties and came close to winning Saratoga in 1998. Dairy farmer Steve James also did well up here in 1996 against Sweeney's predecessor, the infamous Gerry Solomon.

2.) Gillibrand must cultivate more of a populist image - You know that Sweeney and his crew are bound to paint Gillibrand as an "elitist" because she has spent much of her professional career working in New York City and she comes from a wealthy background. Currently Sweeney has a large lead with the so-called "NASCAR Dads" and "Wal-Mart shoppers." I know this won't be easy, but Gillibrand must figure out how she can appeal to the NASCAR crowd and the Wal-Mart crowd. She must also be able to connect with "rural, small-town America," as this demographic comprises much of the 20th District. I personally would love to see her deploy a strategy attacking Sweeney for his ties to corporations such as Pfizer and Exxon-Mobil. I personally think that "economic populism" is a great way we can win over many Republican-leaning voters in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

3.) Gillibrand must do a better job of exposing Sweeney's close ties to Bush - Why are a quarter of Democrats about ready to cast their ballot for a man who in the past made his close ties to Bush the centerpiece of his campaigns? Maybe perhaps because they are unaware of just how close Sweeney REALLY IS to Bush. All those ads falsely portraying Sweeney as an "independent" really seem to be paying off. And I've heard from several sources that Gillibrand has decided to take a somewhat neutral stance on Bush's policies along with Bush's close ties to Sweeney in an effort not to offend a certain segment of voters. With Bush's approval numbers so abysmal here in Upstate New York, any candidate would be very foolish not to attack another candidates close ties to the president! SurveyUSA puts Bush's approval ratings at 29% in Upstate New York. I don't know who Gillibrand thinks she may offend, but the real Bush Lovers will almost NEVER vote for a Democrat in a Congressional Election. And that's even if there are any Bush lovers left by this November. It's time to pander to the majority, not the minority.

4.) Gillibrand must take a much stronger stance against the Iraq War - Most polls currently show that the Iraq War is the biggest issue on voters' minds right now. Personally, I think Gillibrand assumes that being a female and a Democrat she must look "hawkish" to many of these rural, small-town, Republican-leaning voters. However, as I previously discussed, I think there are other ways she can look "hawkish" without being behind this ridiculous war. All she needs to do is paint Sweeney as weak on Homeland Security, and trust me, that isn't too hard to do considering all the times he's voted to slash social security funding. Personally I was hoping that more of Edwin Pell, Morris Guller, and even libertarian Eric Sundwall's press releases would make it to the press so they could add to the discussion and hopefully drag the Gillibrand camapaign in the right direction. There are many Democrats (like myself), along with independents, and even some moderate Republicans in this district who are fed up with this useless war for oil and want to see it ended IMMEDIATELY. Nation-wide the polls show that now the majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq was an incredible mistake, and I'm almost positive that the number is even higher here in Upstate New York. Right now, Gillibrand has the perfect opportunity to be the hero and distinguish herself differently from Sweeney on the biggest issue of the day, but yet still she refuses to change her stance on this issue no matter how much and how hard progressive activists beg her. Personally I think Gillibrand taking a strong stance against the war would be a perfect way to get all the disaffected Republicans in this district to crossover and vote Democratic. But where's the incentive? Let's not just worry about getting Republicans to vote for us - how do we even hold down the entire Democratic base? Like the old saying from the movie Wag The Dog, people aren't going to "change horses in midstream" unless the opponent of the incumbent gives them a compelling reason to do so. Gillibrand taking a similar stance to Sweeney on the war I think in the end will be a major mistake. I think there are many disaffected Republicans and even lots of the turncoat "Sweeney Democrats" would love to see the war ended, but feel no compelling real to throw Representative Sweeney out because the way the look at things, "I've got two candidates who both do not favor immediate withdrawl from Iraq, so at least I'll vote for the one (Sweeney) who has the ability to bring home the pork because of his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee." I really believe that Gillibrand must change her stance on the war if we want to attract more Republicans, and independents, as well as solidify the Democratic base this November.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Haven't Updated in Awhile...

There just hasn't been too much going on in the news about this race in the past week or two. Ever since the McCain visit in Saratoga things have just been unusually quite quiet in terms of the 20th Congressional race. Gillibrand, though, was cut from the first round of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" funding program. This can either be a good or a bad sign for her campaign - on one hand Gillibrand has been able to raise a significant amount of cash lately through her ties to the Howard Dean-inspired Democracy for America group, so perhaps the DCCC decided that it would be best to spend their cash elsewhere on some less funded candidates in competitve races. On the other hand, many of the races the DCCC opted to continue funding are ranked more competitively than this race in the polls. The DCCC in fact has released internal polling for some of these other races. Surely, the DCCC has done internal polling on the NY-20 race. As a matter of fact, we've gotten phone calls at our house in regards to the 20th Congressional Race. So, why won't they release any of their internal data?

Even if Gillibrand or any of the other Democrats (Pell, Guller, Walters) are badly trailing Sweeney in the polls, I'm still confident at this point that Sweeney can be defeated. Bush's approval ratings are down in the lower 20s here in New York and Pataki's approval ratings are down in the lower 30s. There's definately a lot of anti-incumbent and anti-Republican setiment right now, even here in the 20th Congressional District of New York, one of the few remaining bastions of Republicanism left in the Northeast. After all, why won't John Sweeney even say what party he's a member of in his campaign propaganda?

Meanwhile, I'm in the process of updating my website about John Sweeney's record. The last place I hosted my website with recently shut down their servers and stopped offering web hosting services. I need to find a new free web host.

Even so, when I find a new host and the site relaunches, it should feature more interactive content, such as a quiz on Sweeney's voting record, as well as a "Sweeney gas calculator," which will display the increased price New York consumers are expected to pay in the upcoming years thanks in large part to Sweeney and Bush energy policies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Protest John McCain's Fundraiser for John Sweeney

This weekend, beginning at 11:00AM there will be a protest of John McCain's fundraiser for John Sweeney.

Here are the details from the press release:

Sweeney/McCain Fundraiser Protest
Saturday May 20 in Saratoga Springs

WHO: A coalition of irate citizens organized by the Alliance for Democracy.

WHAT: Protesters will picket and perform satirical street theater outside a $150-$1000 a plate fundraising reception and luncheon for Representative John Sweeney featuring Sen. John McCain*.

WHEN: Saturday May 20, 2006 starting 11:30AM.

WHERE: Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

VISUALS: Rubber stamps symbolizing Sweeney's approval of Bush's failed policies, mops and brooms to clean up political corruption, street theater may include an auction of favors for moneyed interests, Swillionaires for Sweeney may make an appearance.

WHY: The protesters will focus on the embattled Congressman’s support of wealthy campaign donors over hard-pressed residents of his district, his rubber stamp support of the Bush administration's policies favoring the corporate rich, and his ties to Tom DeLay and the scandal-plagued Republican leadership.

HOW: Protesters plan to bring signs attached to mops & brooms, symbolizing their demand to clean up corruption, with clean elections campaign finance reform. They will distribute factual summaries of big contributions to Sweeney, and his support for laws favoring the same donors.

Sweeney and McCain both voted for special interest legislation pushed by lobbyists and big donors, like the Cheney energy bill helping Exxon and other oil corporations make record profits, and the latest $70 Billion tax subsidy to the rich and super rich. This bill allows unearned income from capital gains and financial assets to be taxed at a much lower rate than the hard earned wages and salaries of ordinary families who can not afford to buy access.

"Unlike Sweeney, who led a violent gang of thugs in Miami in 2000 with the order to shut down the vote recounting, we will be nonviolent," said organizer Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa.
* The invitation online at http://timesunion.com/blogs/capitol/docs/mccain.doc
Protest Info online at http://activistresource.org/calendar/cal_event.php?id=5411
This advisory online at http://hm.indymedia.org/newswire/display/11963/index.php

I also designed all the posters and signs which will be in use at the event. You may view them here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Guller promises to introduce legislation creating a federal pension program for Volunteer First Responders

Morris Guller, one of the four Democratic candidates vying for the nomination to challenge Sweeney just issued this press release:

"If elected to the United States House of Representatives I will introduce legislation that would create a fully funded Federal Pension Program for Volunteer First Responders. This bill is in support of firefighters and emergency medical volunteers whose service to rural America is undeniably essential," Guller said in a Press Release issued May 15, 2006.

"The purpose of this Bill would be to standardized payments and qualifications for entry into the program," Guller continued.

"As of today there are a few counties and over a hundred municipalities that provide a pension program for their volunteers throughout the United States. This uniform program will bring it (pensions) to every part of our nation. Volunteers will be able to move their pension accounts when they move to another local," Guller added.

"The purpose of offering Pensions to volunteers is to encourage membership in local volunteer firefighting and EMS programs. It is a fact that over the past decade our numbers have been decreasing while the demand for services has been increasing. We need to encourage membership and reward participation in this vital community service. The alternative will be to go to fully paid services which would cost ten times that of a comprehensive Pension Program." Guller said.

"When people dial 911 they expect their government will there for them. That's what we pay taxes for. Volunteerism is saving our government billions of dollars each year by covering these essential services to rural America. Our government's answer to the volunteers should be a Pension Program they can depend on and look forward to" Guller concluded.

Elements of the Program will call for pension proceeds to be paid out after 15 years of service based on a specific number of hours dedicated to the program each year. People already serving in a volunteer program would be eligible to come in with five years waved if they have served for five or more years. They would then have ten years before their pension payments began. This Bill also calls for a death benefit (live insurance coverage) to be paid to survivors of a volunteer. The pension program would be transferable and benefits to beneficiaries would continue for five years.

As written the Bill would call for a payment of $500 per month to volunteers after fifteen years of service. The death benefit is fixed at $25,000.

NY Times: "Congressman With Long Reach Faces Political Battle of His Life"

Interesting article just appeared in today's New York Times:

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Only a few years ago, John E. Sweeney was a rising star in New York Republican circles, a streetwise political operative who helped engineer the 1994 victory of a little-known state senator, George E. Pataki, over Gov. Mario M. Cuomo before going on to take a seat in Congress. There, his combative brand of politics made him a favorite of national Republican leaders, including President Bush.

But these days, with Congressional elections just six months away, Mr. Sweeney finds himself in the political battle of his life, as he faces his first significant electoral challenge since taking office in 1998, from a political novice who has not only turned out to be a surprisingly strong campaigner and fund-raiser but who also has assembled a seasoned campaign team closely tied to the vaunted Clinton operation.

The threat that independent analysts say Mr. Sweeney faces is one of the more intriguing and unexpected developments of this electoral season, since the congressman represents the solidly Republican 20th Congressional District and has emerged in recent years as one of the more prominent politicians in the state. Well liked even among his Democratic colleagues, the gregarious Mr. Sweeney has long been considered a potential candidate for higher office.

But now he finds himself battered by headlines about his own actions, including his recent attendance at a college fraternity party. He also faces the woes afflicting other Republicans around the country, who — as members of the party controlling the White House and Congress — are potentially vulnerable at a time when polls indicate that Americans are in a dark mood about the future of the nation.

Added to the mix is Mr. Sweeney's Democratic challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, a lawyer and a tough and disciplined opponent. She has been barnstorming the district, which encompasses all or parts of 10 counties, carrying the same message that she delivered here one day last week during a campaign stop at Skidmore College: that Mr. Sweeney and his Republican allies in Washington are out of touch with average Americans, who are increasingly concerned about fuel costs, college tuition, the war in Iraq and the federal deficit.

And, Ms. Gillibrand said, Americans do not like the fact that Republicans have a lock on Congress and the White House.

"That makes people uncomfortable, regardless of party affiliation," she said during her visit to Skidmore, where she presented a plan to make college tuition more affordable. "They understand that absolute power corrupts."

In her comments, Ms. Gillibrand is adhering to a strategy that has been mapped out by national Democratic leaders hoping to reclaim control of Congress: to turn the election into a referendum on the party in power.

In the meantime, Mr. Sweeney, while acknowledging concern about the political climate for his party, predicted that voters would be more likely to judge him and his colleagues on what they have delivered for their districts than on what happens in Washington.

"These are absolutely going to be local races," he said, noting that he has been a strong advocate for his district's interests, even when that meant defying the White House and Congressional leaders.

Still, the combination of several unflattering reports about Mr. Sweeney and the national mood has created a climate so volatile that some leading New York Republicans are concerned that Democrats suddenly have a much better shot than they should at picking up a district Republicans have long had a lock on.

"Unfortunately, he's gotten his name in the paper for things you don't want to be in the paper for," said one influential Republican Party member who supports Mr. Sweeney and who was granted anonymity to openly discuss the party's concerns. "It's nothing fatal. But in this climate, it's not good. Voters out there are dead serious about issues, and there is no room for error."

Democrats, however, are not the only ones who have Mr. Sweeney in their political sights. He has had problems in his own party, despite his obvious political triumphs.

He has battled for years with Governor Pataki and his advisers, and some Republicans and Democrats now say that members of the Pataki camp are tacitly backing his opponent's bid. (Ms. Gillibrand is the daughter of Douglas Rutnik, an Albany lobbyist who is close to Mr. Pataki and his inner circle.)

But one senior adviser to the governor said it would be a stretch to say that the Pataki camp is interested in getting a Democrat elected. "I don't think you are going to see any Republicans actively helping her get elected," the adviser said. "But at the same time, the relationship with Sweeney is so bad that people would not pass up the opportunity to show him the knife. This is not about helping her. It's about him."

But Mr. Sweeney still has powerful friends in the upper echelons of the New York Republican Party, most notably Joseph L. Bruno, the majority leader of the State Senate, whose district overlaps the congressman's district and who has vowed to put his get-out-the-vote operation to work for him in the fall.

And Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who has long relied on Mr. Sweeney to advance the city's agenda on the House Appropriations Committee, on which he has a seat, plans to hold a $1,000-a-person fund-raiser for him in the coming weeks at his Upper East Side town house.

By most measures, Ms. Gillibrand has run an aggressive campaign that seems to have caught Mr. Sweeney off guard as it has swiftly moved to put him on the defensive.

In January, her campaign surrogates seized on reports that he organized a $2,000-a-person "Skiing with Sweeney" weekend getaway attended by lobbyists at a resort in Park City, Utah, as well as a dinner at the home of a wealthy pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

Democrats aligned with Ms. Gillibrand managed to attract considerable media coverage by attacking Mr. Sweeney in a satirical Internet advertisement arguing that his actions reflected a larger culture of corruption that has enveloped Washington under Republican rule.

Interestingly, the person helping to orchestrate many of the attacks on Mr. Sweeney is Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was hired by the Gillibrand campaign to bring the famed Clinton war room tactics to the race.

Perhaps the most surprising development in the race has been Mrs. Gillibrand's ability to raise money at a swift pace. Mr. Sweeney does not hold that much of a cash advantage — $961,819 in the bank compared with Ms. Gillibrand's $511,259 — prompting some Republicans to suggest that Mr. Sweeney has not been aggressive enough in mobilizing his own network of supporters.

The thrust of Ms. Gillibrand's campaign is to depict Mr. Sweeney as unwilling to defend the interests of his constituents if that means having to defy the Bush White House and conservative leaders in Congress.

Ms. Gillibrand says she believes that this message will have resonance with certain traditional Sweeney supporters — chiefly independents and moderate Republicans — who she says are disenchanted with the direction of the nation after years of Republican rule.

But Mr. Sweeney and his allies say that he has always exercised independence in Washington, defying his leaders on a host of issues, including proposed spending cuts to Amtrak, rural health care, programs for seniors and education.

"John is a totally independent guy," Mr. Bruno, the State Senate majority leader, said. "If there is anybody who has demonstrated his independence from the national Republican agenda, it is him."

Mr. Sweeney echoed that sentiment. "I have been swimming upstream on a lot of issues a lot of times," he said.

My comments:

Those people on the Republican side, like Joe Bruno, who love to continue to clammor that Sweeney is an "independent," must surely know that he has most recently voted with the GOP party line 90% of the time. (No independence there?) Joe Bruno's comment that "if there is anybody who has demonstrated his independence from the national Republican agenda, it is him" is nothing but a bold-faced lie.

Sweeney says that he has defied the party leadership on cuts in Amtrak, rural health care, and programs for seniors. But, as we all know, actions speak much larger than words.

Look at all the times Sweeney voted in favor of Amtrak cuts and tell me if this guy is an independent:

  • Voted against a bill which passed by 269-152 on June 29, 2005 and highly supported by the National Association of Railroad Passengers which removed language which would have prevented Amtrak from using federal language to support their operation. Sweeney, in fact, was so opposed to this bill that he was one of only FOUR representatives to speak against the amendment. (Roll Call #336, 2005)

  • Sweeney voted in favor of a bill (H.R. 3058) on June 29, 2005, which according to the AFL-CIO, which "eliminates nearly all funding for Amtrak's long-distance passenger rail service."

  • Sweeney voted against a letter to Appropriations leaders for 1.8 billion in Amtrak funding for fiscal year 2004. The bill overwhelmingly passed. (Source)
    Sweeney voted for a motion to strike down a motion offered by Congressman Carlson (D-IN) which would have improved the nation's transportation infastructure, includung $1.2 billion in Amtrak funding. (Roll Call #442, 2002)

Also take a look at all of Sweeney's votes against seniors, rural healthcare, and education and tell me if this guy is an independent:

  • Sweeney voted in favor of House Vote #149 in on April 28, 2005, which CUTS $35 billion from Medicaid and Student Aid

  • Sweeney voted in favor of CUTS for rural healthcare - John Sweeney voted against a bill in favor of restoring expanded access to healthcare in rural areas in 2003, after legislation was passed which cut funding for rural hospitals

  • Last November, Sweeney voted for substatial CUTS in senior citizens programs - supported a bill which cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act (Roll Call #548, November 11, 2005)

  • Voted for EVEN MORE CUTS from programs for the elderly, poor, and disabled last December (Roll Call #670, December 19, 2005)

  • And of course, we can't forget Mr. Sweeney opposition to drug imporation from Canada

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Moveon.org Organizing Protest Outside Sweeney's Clifton Park Office

This just came from the Times Union's Capitol Confidential blog:

MoveOn.org, the liberal national advocacy group/527, is organizing a protest outside U.S. Rep. John Sweeney’s Clifton Park office Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

MoveOn volunteers will “deliver” the Republican congressman a giant check made out for $31,700 - the amount they say he has received in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies - and call on him to “fix the Medicare drug program.”

The timing here is connected to the fact that a montly 1 percent late fee on premiums for those who don’t sign up for Medicare Part D starts May 15.

The group has sent out an e-mail seeking local volunteers to participate in this event, which is being replicated in “key districts” nationwide.

Sweeney, I’m told, won’t be around to get his check. He’ll be casting votes in Washington, D.C. tomorrow night.

Technorati Tags: , John Sweeney

Monday, May 08, 2006

Morris Guller Announces His Support of a Wind Turbine Project at the Barton Mine facility in Johnsburg

Mr. Guller, one of the four Democratic candidates for Congress, sent me his press release today:

Morris Guller announced he supports a wind turbine project in Johnsburg proposed Adirondack Wind Partners, a joint venture between The Barton Group and Reunion Power.

"This project has my complete, unabridged, and enthusiastic support. I will do whatever I can to help Barton and their partners bring this project to fruition" Guller said. "I have been an advocate of Wind Power and Wind Farms for the 20th Congressional District since the idea was first introduced to me in 2001" Guller continued.

"Two Wind Farms to harness this great resource we possess right here in our own backyards needs to be explored and implemented for the good of everyone in the region, state, and for our nation. This is a case where a community is leading the way for New York and in turn New York (per usual) will lead the way for the nation. Imagine, if you will, the day ten or fifteen years from now when you pull up to a Power Station instead of a Gas Station and power up your car in five minutes for a little less than five dollars. This is a very exciting prospect for everyone -- Clean, reusable, inexpensive energy. Barton and Partners are taking the first step. Someone always has to. I thank them for their ingenuity and determination" Guller concluded.

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Post-Star article declares this a "battleground" race!

This article just popped up on Google news (was just written today) -

Battleground district: Sweeney-Gillibrand race attracting national attention

By MAURY THOMPSON, thompson@poststar.com

Updated: 5/8/2006 3:52:10 PM

So much for Ohio, Michigan, Arizona or Arkansas.

This political season, the battleground territory is shaping up right here at home.

The potential November match-up between incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Hudson, is attracting national attention -- as Democrats say it may be their best chance in years to capture a House seat that has been held by Republicans for nearly three decades.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified the 20th District as one of 22 priority House races in the country.

Political journals and prominent newspapers, including USA Today and The New York Times, have profiled the race.

"If Democrats take back the House, it's going to be with New York as their backbone," said Clark Todd, contributing editor to NationalJournal.com, a nonpartisan political newsletter.

Republicans are gearing up to defend the territory.

Sweeney said in a recent telephone interview that U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani have agreed to come to the region to endorse his campaign at some point.

Sweeney, a four-term incumbent, said he's confident going into the campaign.

"I think I'm very comfortable talking about in eight years what I've done for the area," said Sweeney, a four-term incumbent.

There is a marked difference in strategy from two years ago, when Sweeney would not even respond to criticism from Democrats until after the September primary.

This year, he has homed in early on Gillibrand -- one of four potential Democratic candidates -- trading barbs on issues such as gas prices, lobbying reform and defense policy.

Unlike the Democratic candidate two years ago, Gillibrand has built up a sizable campaign fund early in the race.

As of March 31, she had raised $715,479, while Sweeney had raised $1.18 million.

Republicans in the 20th Congressional District are clearly taking Gillibrand's campaign seriously, said Robert Turner, a political science professor at Skidmore College.

"They are, in the words of one Republican consultant I talked to, 'going to take out their (Democrats) legs early,'" he said.

That strategy is apparent from the way Republicans have made repeated attacks on Gillibrand's family and law firm, Turner said.

Republicans have said an associate in Gillibrand's law firm represented an executive from Enron, and said it is hypocritical of her to call for lobbying reform when her father lobbies state government.

Democrats have attacked Sweeney over ski trips with lobbyists he hosted in Park City, Utah, and Lake Placid.

Republicans say it will be difficult, if not impossible, for Democrats to overcome an enrollment disadvantage in the 20th Congressional District.

There are 197,753 registered Republicans compared with 113,096 Democrats in the 10-county district, which stretches from Lake Placid south to Dutchess and Delaware counties.

Another 108,803 registered voters have no party affiliation, according to the state Board of Elections.

The district is "one of the safest districts in the Northeast" for Republicans, said Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell, who represents New York on the Republican National Committee.

"I don't get it," Treadwell said, referring to Democrats targeting Sweeney's seat. "But if they want to spend their money and waste it, so be it."

Sweeney has won handily each time he's run for the House, carrying 55 percent of the vote in 1998, 69 percent in 2000, 73 percent in 2002 and 66 percent in 2004.

Democrats are staking their hopes on President Bush's unpopularity.

Bush had a 33 percent approval rating in the latest AP-Ipsos poll, the Associated Press reported last week. That figure, the lowest in his presidency, compares with a 36 percent approval rating in early April.

Gillibrand and her supporters have repeatedly said Sweeney has voted in line with President Bush 80 percent of the time.

Sweeney, however, said he has not always sided with Bush, such as on the dredging of the Hudson River.

Political analysts say the outcome of the congressional race may be affected by races for governor and a U .S. Senate seat.

Eliot Spitzer, a Democratic candidate for governor, and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, an incumbent Democrat, are leading in public opinion polls by a wide margin.

Republican statewide candidates must energize upstate conservative-minded voters or else Republicans may stay home on Election Day, said Turner.

"You saw a little bit of this in the 2005 local election here," when Democrats won races of mayor in Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls, he said.

"Is John Sweeney enough to get people to come out to vote?" asked Todd.

My response to this article:

I always love how John Sweeney uses his opposition of dredging the Hudson River to demonstrate his so-called "independence" from Bush. The Bush Administration's support for dreding the Hudson is one of the few things that I applaud them on and one of the only things I think they've actually done right in the past six years. By coming out in opposition to dredging the Hudson, is John basically trying to demostrate to all of us that he's EVEN WORSE than the Bush Administration when it comes to environmental issues? And honestly, you can't get much worse than Bush when it comes to the environment. Even Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Endangered Species Act into law. It's just great knowing we've got a Congressman representing us who's even worse than this President (in many cases) on environmental issues.

Mr. Sweeney, though, always loves to argue that the majority of people in this district oppose dredging because they think it would be disruptive to their daily lives. And I'm certainly sure that the people who live along the Hudson, in towns like Hudson Falls, Northumberland, Easton, and Schuylerville, certainly do oppose the dredging. But still, has he taken a poll of how the people in the ENTIRE district feel? Only a very small percentage of the population of the district actually lives in those small towns along the river. I find it really hard to believe that GE has actually bought off the opinions of the majority of people throughout the 20th Congressional District. Of course, I could very well be wrong - money really does corrupt these days.

And going on to how Sandy Treadwell "just (doesn't) get it" and how he thinks the Democrats are wasting their money, my rebuke is that maybe Mr. Treadwell really "doesn't get it" himself. In the past decade, with the influx of people from Democratic-leaning urban areas (such as New York City and Albany) into the 20th Congressional District (which I've talked about several times in the past), this district is becoming and will continue to become more and more hospitable to the Democrats. And even though there are 197,753 enrolled Republicans and 113,096 enrolled Democrats, if you have been checking the registration statistics from the New York State Board of Elections, the gap has been shrinking in recent years. In June of 2002, there were 196,990 enrolled Republicans and only 103,653 enrolled Democrats. As can be seen, Republican enrollment has remained steady, while Democratic enrollment is growing.

Also on the upswing, in 2004 Chuck Schumer and in 2002 Eliot Spitzer both won this district by about 55%, a feat no statewide Democratic candidate could achieve here even a decade ago. Besides this, in heavily-populated longtime Republican-strongholds like Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs, the cracks on the longtime GOP reign are definately showing - the Democrats now control every single post on the Saratoga Springs City Council and Democrat Robert Reilly won the Clifton Park Assembly Seat in 2004 despite its 2-1 Republican advantage in registration.

The Republicans love to talk about Bush's victory here in the 2004 presidential race, but indeed it was no mandate - he only got 53% in NY-20 (less than 2% higher than the national average). Given the fact that this district has an almost 2-1 Republican advantage in enrollment, George W. Bush arguably should have won here by a much larger margin than he did. Go back to 1988, 1984, 1980, and 1976, and George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford won this district by about 65%. So there's definately been a shift towards the Democrats in recent years.

The big question is - has there been enough of a shift here for a Democrat to represent us in Congress? (That will obviously be answered by the voters this November)

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