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February 9, 2009 - 1:05pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, Chris Lee, Republican.

From the Office of Rep. Chris Lee:

Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) today appeared at the Rochester Federal Building to announce that he has sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling for action on bipartisan legislation to stop the automatic pay raise members of Congress are scheduled to receive next year. The lawmaker says foregoing the pay increase would help make Washington more accountable to Western New York taxpayers.

“After a month in Congress, I have seen firsthand the critical need for openness and accountability in Washington,” Congressman Lee said. “During these tough economic times, when workers are foregoing wage increases to keep their jobs, Congress should not grant itself a pay raise. Washington should do more with less, just as Western New Yorkers always have.”
 
On his first day in office, Congressman Lee became a co-sponsor of H.R. 156, the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act, which would block the pay raise Members of Congress are scheduled to automatically receive next year. H.R. 156, which is sponsored by Congressman Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), has gained more than 100 Republican and Democrat co-sponsors, and is endorsed by leading taxpayer and government watchdog groups. The legislation is currently pending in the House Administration and Oversight & Government Reform committees. (Click HERE to read statements from leading taxpayer and government watchdog groups on the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act.)

Congressman Lee added, “Before Congress, my experience was solely in the private sector. When tough times came, we fought to save jobs and did not accept pay raises. This is an opportunity for Washington to set a similar example for public officials in every level of government.”

Click here to download the letter Lee sent to House Speaker Pelosi.

January 29, 2009 - 8:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, republicans, Chris Lee, stimulus.

The big news this morning, for sure, is the passage of the $819 billion stimulus package by the U.S. House of Representatives. We have yet to see what the Senate will do, but this thing is sure to climb through the ranks and get the presidential signature soon enough.

Throughout the day today, we'll take a look at some of the details of the package, both at the federal, the state and the local level. We will here what our representative in Congress, Chris Lee, has to say about the bill. We will get a response to Lee's vote against the package from some local Democrats. We will also look to get your opinion on this topic, so please keep an eye out for today's poll, which I hope to get up later this morning.

Let's start out with a broad look at what the stimulus package means for the nation. This is from the New York Times:

At first, it will trickle into paychecks in small, barely perceptible amounts: perhaps $12 or $13 a week for many American workers, in the form of lower tax withholding.

For the growing ranks of the unemployed, it will be more noticeable: benefit checks due to stop will keep coming, along with an extra $25 a week.

At the grocery store, a family of four on food stamps could find up to $79 more a month on their government-issued debit card.

And far bigger sums will appear, courtesy of Washington, on budget ledgers in state capitals nationwide: billions of dollars for health care, schools and public works.

Speaking of billions in health care and school aid, Sen. Chuck Schumer put out a release yesterday detailing the chunk of change due to come to upstate New York—$1.6 billion over the next two years. (Don't know about anyone else, but these numbers are always so staggering. If anyone knows of a good source that looks into how the government can come up, hocus pocus, with nearly a trillion dollars every time things start to look grim, please let me know.)

From Sen. Schumer:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will send nearly $1.6 billion over two years to Upstate New York counties in direct budget and education funding. Right now, the stimulus is expected to include $737 million in federal Medicaid relief for Upstate New York counties to help ease pressure on the overall budget, as well as a minimum of $860 million in education aid.

Western New York is due to see $70.4 million in budget relief for Medicaid and $175 million in school aid, according to Schumer's office. At the end of the release, we're told that the Senate will likely vote on the package next week in the hopes of getting the final draft to the president by President's Day, February 16.

We will get up part two of our look at the stimulus package later this morning. Please be sure to check back. In the meantime, you may want to check out the New York Times Web site, where they have put together an informative graphic that includes some audio commentary from some economists on how the nation handled past recessions.

January 23, 2009 - 11:20am
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, governor Paterson, senate, kirsten gillibrand.

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand will leave Congress to take the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, who took the position of Secretary of State in the new administration. News of Gillibrands appointment spread quickly this morning, and most of you have already at least read a little bit about this two-term Democratic Congresswoman. So, what do you think?

January 22, 2009 - 1:46pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, republicans, Chris Lee.

Rep. Chris Lee read his first speech on the House floor last night to "urge Congress not to rubber stamp another $350 million in taxpayer funds for the struggling Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)," according to a statement released by his office this morning. TARP is the official name for the financial assistance package put together by the Fed last year to purchase the infamous "toxic assets" in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis—better known to all of us as: the bailout.

(A quick aside here: Does anyone else see the irony in the acronym? Sure, a tarp can be strung over some poles and shade the backyard crew for a summer barbecue. But isn't a tarp more commonly found in the cluttered garage thrown over the broken lawnmower and the 80 pounds of manure still waiting to fertilize the garden out back that hasn't pushed out a bud in half a dozen seasons? Am I pushing this metaphor too far?)

We've decided to include the full text of Lee's speech here for you to glean from what you will. I'll keep my opinion out of this one. You can also view a poorly synched video of Lee delivering the speech, if you're not in the mood to read right now.

“Taxpayer dollars must be spent with accountability and transparency. To date, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – commonly known as TARP – has failed to meet this common-sense standard of fiscal responsibility.

“TARP was established last fall as an emergency plan to prop up the ailing financial markets. But today, we have far more questions than answers.

“Taxpayers have already lost $64 billion on the first round of investments made through TARP.

“The new administration has asked this Congress to double down on TARP and rubber stamp another $350 billion without credible assurances of future results.

“With a $1.2 trillion deficit on the books and a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package looming, these are resources we cannot afford to spend without responsible oversight.

“Western New York’s economy is in a perilous state. What we need right now is swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs and spurs future growth, not another bloated Washington program that overpromises and underdelivers.

“I hope my colleagues will reject any attempt to rubber stamp the TARP program and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, not wastefully.”

January 15, 2009 - 10:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, congress, politics, Chris Lee, Republican.

From the Office of U.S. Rep. Chris Lee (NY-26):

Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) issued the following statement after voting to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP):

“I am proud to support legislation that strengthens SCHIP’s ability to provide children living in poverty with access to affordable health insurance. This program has a solid track record of covering children in families who don’t have enough resources to keep pace with the rising costs of health care.

“Ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly is one of my highest priorities, which is why I am pleased that this measure does not add to the federal budget deficit. At the same time, I have concerns about whether this legislation does enough to focus coverage to help children most in need. We cannot tolerate any loopholes or abuses, especially now in the middle of an economic crisis, when the situation for many families is dire. I hope the legislative process will yield a better final product that addresses these concerns and ensures that SCHIP continues to serve the needs of low-income children first.

“Today’s vote is a victory for Western New York families, but it is only a first step in our efforts to reform America’s broken health care system.”

SCHIP is a bipartisan program first established in 1997 as a joint venture between the federal government and the states to provide low-cost health insurance for children living in poverty. The measure Congressman Lee supported, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, reauthorizes the program through September 30, 2013. The bill passed the House by a final vote of 289-139; it now advances to the Senate.

To learn more about Congressman Lee and the 26th district, visit http://chrislee.house.gov.

January 13, 2009 - 11:25am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Announcements, congress, politics, republicans, Chris Lee.

From the Office of U.S. Rep. Chris Lee (NY - 26):

Congressman Chris Lee (NY-26) has been appointed by House Republican leaders to serve on an economic recovery solutions working group that has been tasked with developing constructive ideas to help put the nation’s economy on the path to recovery. Congressman Lee is the only newly elected member named to the working group.

“This working group provides Western New Yorkers with an opportunity to have their voices heard on the front lines of our economic recovery,” Congressman Lee said. “I believe that my business experience will help me bring to the table new ideas for creating jobs and easing the strain on middle-class families and small business owners.”

The working group is being headed up by Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Republican Whip, who commented on Congressman Lee’s appointment: “I am pleased to announce that Congressman Lee has been selected to serve as a member of the economic solutions working group. The group was formed in response to President-elect Obama’s request that Republicans offer ideas to help put America back on the path to prosperity.”

Congressman Cantor is the second-ranking House Republican.
 
“The ultimate goal of this working group is to present ideas to the President-elect and Democrat leaders that could be included in a bipartisan economic recovery package,” Congressman Lee added. “We should not squander this opportunity to work across party lines and craft an economic recovery package that strikes the right balance between short-term stimulus and long-term growth.”

As part of his participation in the working group, Congressman Lee will attend a hearing on Thursday morning featuring top national experts and leaders, including former Gov. Mitt Romney. Gov. Romney and other panelists will offer innovative ideas and solutions to help revitalize America’s economy.
 
“As a business leader and former governor, Mitt Romney knows what Washington should – and should not – be doing to create jobs and spur future growth,” Congressman Lee added. “I look forward to hearing his ideas for how we can revitalize our economy.” 

Congressman Lee’s appointment to the working group comes less than a week after he was named to the House Financial Services Committee, which will play a leading role in creating new jobs and strengthening our economy. Financial Services is the go-to panel on housing, insurance, and banking issues; it oversees the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The committee is expected to have a robust legislative agenda in addressing the severe challenges facing America’s economy and financial institutions.

To learn more about Congressman Lee and the 26th district, visit http://chrislee.house.gov.

January 12, 2009 - 1:47pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, Democrats, republicans, Chris Lee.

We received the following statement, issued by the Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Orleans Democratic Committee Chairs.

The Democrats of the rural counties of New York's 26th Congressional District (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties, or the GLOW region,) congratulate Chris Lee on being sworn in to represent the district in the 111th Congress.  While he is getting established in Washington, the GLOW county Democratic Committees note that Congressman Lee's plans to open offices in just Monroe and Erie Counties suggest there is a good chance that the rural areas of the district, which comprise a great deal of the 26th, may continue to be overlooked despite there being new representation in Congress.

Mr. Lee has issued a statement announcing that he has been named to the Financial Services Committee, the committee assignment he sought.  Unfortunately, membership on that committee precludes his serving on any of the other important committees in Congress.  (Most members of Congress sit on multiple committees, but members of the Financial Services Committee do not.)  "What our communities really need is a representative on the Agriculture Committee, like the 29th District will have with Eric Massa," says Harold Bush, Chair of the Wyoming County Democratic Committee.  The Genesee County Democratic Committee Chair, Lorie Longhany, says "I am concerned that Congressman Lee is in danger of simply perpetuating a long Washington tradition of being more interested in Wall Street than Main Street.  The fact that two of his very first votes were against closing pay discrimination loopholes -- he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fairness Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act -- makes me even more on my guard about his commitment to average people."

The other matter of great concern to the GLOW-region Democratic Committees is that Congressman Lee may not be supportive enough of passing the stimulus plan that is the first item on Congress' agenda.  "He never talks about a recovery plan without worrying out loud about 'fiscal responsibility,'" says Phil Jones, Chair of the Livingston County Democratic Committee.  "But 'fiscal responsibility' has become the Republican code phrase for obstructing what we really need in this district, which is jobs.  The Republicans had plenty of chances to be fiscally responsible when they were in control of Congress and the economy wasn't in dire straits.  But economic experts agree that temporary government spending is the only thing that can help turn around our economic situation."  The Orleans County Democratic Chair, Jeanne Crane, notes that public investment in infrastructure and green energy projects could benefit the 26th district for years to come.  "Smart public investments can lead to real, tangible assets for our community, assets that will attract jobs and growth.  We hope Congressman Lee understands that and will support the kind of stimulus package we need."

January 8, 2009 - 3:00pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, Chris Lee, Republican.

Yesterday, we ran a post about Congressman Chris Lee's swearing-in as the representative of the 26th Congressional District. In a press release sent out by Lee's office earlier this week, we were informed of a pair of upcoming open houses at Lee's district offices in Erie and Monroe counties. That begged the question: What about Genesee County? So we wrote to Lee's press secretary, Andrea Bozek, to find out.

Bozek, who has always been quick to respond to our inquiries, replied:

"Congressman Lee will be fighting everyday in Congress for the people in Genesee County and all the seven counties he represents. We will be announcing several satellite office hours throughout the district and advisory boards."

We'll be sure to let you know as soon as we know where and when those satellite office hours are established.

In other news, it sounds like Lee has already taken a couple of strides in Washington. He recently co-sponsored legislation, according to Bozek, "to block congressional pay raises and has sent a letter to the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission ... regarding legislation that could harm several small businesses in our community."

Here's an excerpt from that letter:

As currently written, the (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) would require all products for children twelve and under be tested for lead and other chemicals. However, the CPSIA includes no provision to exclude items in which lead is practically nonexistent, such as clothing, toys, and other goods made of natural materials, from the testing requirements.

Were these provisions to take effect, small businesses would be forced to either spend considerable sums testing these products or stop selling them altogether. For instance, I recently heard from a consignment store owner in my district who says the Act could force her to shut down a business she has had for seventeen years. Many families in our community rely on her store for affordable clothes, especially in the current economic climate.

I am pleased to see that the Commission shares these concerns and has voted to grant exemptions in these and other related categories. At the same time, because of the Commission’s thirty day public comment period, these rule changes will not be imposed until after the CPSIA takes effect on February 10, 2009. On behalf of the consignment stores, small manufacturers and retailers in New York’s 26th District, I respectfully request that you explore ways to finalize these exemptions prior to the February 10 deadline. At a minimum, the Commission should assure business owners that the rules as currently written will not be enforced while the exemptions are under consideration.

An article published today in the Wall Street Journal takes up this issue of lead testing laws from the point of view of second-hand shops, such as thrift stores, that will no longer be able to carry any toys if the exemptions are not made in the legislation. From that article:

The new rules, which impose stricter limits on lead allowed in children's products, also make it illegal to sell recalled products. But it is difficult for thrift shops to verify whether the items they sell comply with safety regulations.

January 7, 2009 - 10:20am
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, Chris Lee, Republican, poliics.

Earlier this morning, we ran a post about Congressman Chris Lee's swearing-in promises of cooperation and transparency. Sure, we were a little crictical of Lee's claims, but we feel that he engendered our reaction through his own campaign strategy of frequently absenting himself from political debates and interviews with the press.

That was our take, for better or worse. Now we want to hear from you. In the press release Lee's office sent out yesterday, it was announced that the congressman would be holding a pair of open houses at his district offices in Williamsville and Greece. Lee does not have an office in Genesee County. We're still waiting to find out what if any representation Lee will have in our area. With that in mind, here is today's poll:

January 7, 2009 - 8:59am
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, Chris Lee, Republican.

Republican Chriss Lee was reticent during last year's campaign season, often declining interviews and frequently unwilling to speak one-on-one with the press. Most news that came our way came via cut-and-paste press releases put together by his campaign team. Yet that strategy proved the way to win the seat in the 26th Congressional District, which, if we're to be honest with ourselves, was the real goal—transparency and cooperation mean nothing without that win. With such a strategy, Lee beat out Democratic challenger Alice Kryzan, who was much his opposite: ferocious in her willingness to get out and talk with anybody who would listen.

Well, Lee is now one day into his new job and already proclaiming that his "doors are always open." In fact, he even held an open house immediately following the ceremony in Washington! Quite a turnaround from the campaign trail. Here's more from the press release that went out late yesterday afternoon:

“It is an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Western New York,” Congressman Lee said. “I am prepared to fight every day for new jobs, lower taxes, and real accountability for the hard-earned money Western New Yorkers send to Washington. For starters, we need a sensible economic recovery package that makes the right investments to spur future growth and provides much-needed tax relief for working families and small business owners.
 
“We also need Washington to stop treating fiscal responsibility like an afterthought. I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control federal spending and hold Washington accountable for every decision it makes.”

Lee continued on in the same vein.

“We face significant challenges right now, and I am ready to work with anyone who is committed to getting our economy moving again, regardless of what party he or she belongs to,” Congressman Lee added. “Changing the way we do business in Washington will require a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions.”

What are your thoughts on Lee's opening day statements? Does it sound like he will in fact get things done for the people of this district? Or does it sound like the same old political blather—i.e., "a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions"?

As we said, Lee made it a point to avoid debates, avoid public appearances that were not choreographed and avoid interviews by the media. That sort of behavior, in the midst of a very public campaign, whether it was strategy or personality, does not speak to a character of unquestioning and altruistic cooperation. Yet here he is, making promises of openness and availability. In fact, Lee will host a pair of open houses at his two local district offices in Williamsville and Greece on January 24. Lee will be in Williamsville first from 9:00am to noon, and in Greece from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

“Our doors are always open to our constituents; listening to their concerns and addressing their needs is our highest priority,” Congressman Lee said.

He will not make any appearance in Genesee County. We sent an e-mail to his office to find out what representation Genesee County will have since both of his district offices are out of the area, in the Buffalo and Rochester suburbs. We will get up any response as soon as it comes our way.

Now, I may have come out of the gate with a critical edge to my blade, but I don't at all mean to condemn Lee before he even gets a chance to prove himself. That being said, we plan to keep a close eye on our newest representative in Congress to see if he lives up to his promises—or if he lives up to his campaign strategy.

October 30, 2008 - 1:28pm

One of our readers this morning turned our attention to an article from the Washington Post, which claims that nationwide "struggles" faced by Sen. John McCain are causing problems for Republicans in Congressional races around the country.

Particularly difficult for Republican prospects is that McCain appears to be trailing badly in several moderate suburban districts across the Midwest and New England, while he is doing worse than President Bush did in rural conservative districts.

[...] 

Democrats hold a 51 to 49 edge in the Senate when the two independents who caucus with them are factored in, and a 236 to 199 House majority. Rothenberg predicted that Democrats will pick up 27 to 33 House seats, and make gains of six to nine seats in the Senate. The Cook Political Report, another independent political forecaster, suggests that Democrats will net 23 to 28 House seats, and pick up seven to nine Republican-held Senate seats.

Normally, this would be a topic for our Nation & World section, but this article calls out our very own 26th District as a potential upset in a region that many would have considered a GOP stronghold.

In New York's 26th District, internal GOP polls show McCain trailing (Sen. Barack) Obama by a narrow margin, sources said. Bush won the Buffalo-based district by 12 percentage points in 2004. The race to replace retiring Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) is considered a tossup.

In that race, Democrat Alice Kryzan will square off against Republican Chris Lee, who himself has been criticized for a lack of visibility since getting the Republican nod with little effort earlier this year.

A post on the Albany Project today takes up this same issue. It turns out the Democratic Congressional Compaign Committee recently pumped $475,340 into the race for the 26th, compared with the $27,918 put up by the National Republican Congressional Committee. That same post claims that the race has now been predicted to swing to the Democrats.

What do you think? Could the GOP lose their grip on the 26th District come Tuesday? Does a lead by Obama equate to an advantage for Kryzan? What are the factors that will decide this vote one way or another Tuesday?

October 27, 2008 - 4:30pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, election, Democrats, Jon Powers, Alice Kryzan.

Alice Kryzan and Jon Powers stopped by the headquarters of the Genesee County Democrats this afternoon on their tour through the 26th district. The two Democrats are ramping up support for Kryzan in her bid to win the congressional seat that will be vacated by retiring incumbent Tom Reynolds. She will face Republican Chris Lee in the general election.

Although they were opponents in the primary, Powers has since come out in full support of Kryzan. Today, he proclaimed that endorsement, citing the message that has been repeated (almost ad nauseum) by Democrats, and often even by Republicans, during this campaign year: change. Voters "have a clear choice," he said, to accept "the same failed policies of the last eight years," or to vote for change. Needless to say, Powers held up Kryzan as a candidate of such change.

"I urge the voters of Western New York to vote for Alice," he said.

Genesee County Democratic Committee Chair Lorie Longhany introduced the two at a brief press conference. She spoke of Powers as "very, very dear to me" and said that his "grassroots campaign led a movement that left a mark in this community."

"His coming out ... sends a strong message across the rural community," she said.

For her part, Kryzan repeated the invocation of change, touting her devotion to "green energy" as part of that message. She called Powers "a worthy adversary" whom she is now thankful to have on her side and vowed to "fight for the 26th district" that has "not been well represented in a long time"—a jab, perhaps, at the outgoing Republican, Reynolds. She also said she wanted to "fulfill the role" of job creator.

"If you send me to Congress, I will get up every morning and ask myself with every item on my agenda: Will this benefit the 26th district? If the answer is no, I will take that item off the agenda."

We caught up with Kryzan after the press conference to ask a couple of questions. (Questions in bold. Responses in italics).

In the Democratic primary, a lot was made about the often divisive negative campaigning and your refusal to get involved in the mudslinging. We know that you can't do anything about the current negative ads being run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacking your opponent Chris Lee. So what are you doing to ensure that voters know these commercials don't reflect your style?

There are two answers to that. One, when asked about it, I tell everyone that those ads are not put out by my campaign. Second, I'm trying to run a campaign with positive ads about the issues. I'm getting out and talking about the issues. ... A representative in Congress must be responsible to the voters.

The "Wall Street bailout" remains wildly unpopular with voters. Nor does much seem to be coming of the effort in the way of relief for the average American. In fact, JPMorgan Chase even admitted that it would not loosen credit and instead plans to use its recently acquired $25 billion of taxpayer money for "acquisitions." Initially, you said that you support the bailout. Do you still?

I supported the bailout, but I said that it's not a perfect bill. Its one saving grace is that Congress only released a portion of the money. A new administration can revisit the effort and make sure that taxpayer money is used to serve the interests of taxpayers, not Wall Street bankers. If we get a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress in there, we will get this right.

September 29, 2008 - 3:10pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, election, Alice Kryzan.

Over a month ago, The Batavian sent out three questions to candidates running for the 61st Senate and 26th Congressional District. Alice Kryzan's campaign got us her responses today. Kryzan is the Democratic nominee for the 26th District.

Here are her responses:

What is your favorite thing to do in Genesee County?

Elba Onion Festival

When you meet a person who has never been to Western New York, what is the first thing you tell him or her about the region?

It is a wonderful place to raise a family. The people are down to earth, hard-working, generous and friendly.The region is beautiful and there are many ways to enjoy it. Once we moved here, over 30 yrs ago for my husbands job, we never wanted to be someplace else.

What is your favorite book about Western New York?

Secret Places: Treasures of WNY and S Ontario, by Bruce Kershner

Answers from Republican Chris Lee were posted two weeks ago. We have not yet heard from the campaigns of Joe Mesi and Mike Ranzenhofer who will square off in the 61st Senate District.

September 22, 2008 - 2:13pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, video, election, Alice Kryzan.

This television commercial, which we were told is already running during Buffalo newscasts, is the first "negative" spot to hit the airwaves since Alice Kryzan and Chris Lee emerged with their party's endorsement following the primaries. Democrat Kryzan is not referenced in the spot that attacks Republican Lee for employing workers in China. It's endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

September 9, 2008 - 9:56pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, election, senate.

Alice Kryzan is leading right now in the Democratic primary race for the 26th Congressional District with just shy of 40 percent of the vote. That's according to the Niagara County Board of Elections which shows 67 of 80 machines reporting. Jon Powers is in a not too distant second place with just over 32 percent. Davis trails in last lace with nearly 28 percent, dropping further from contention than only an hour ago, when he was not even two percentage points behind Powers.

Area bloggers have converged at the WNYMedia site for a round of live blogging, led by a real-time video feed coming out of Buffalo (I believe). It's a must for political junkies looking to get in on the immediate conversation. We hope to hear some substantial commentary once the results solidify in the hour or so—right now it's more about the price of beer and the dysfunction of portable hardware.

As for the Democratic primary for the 61st Senate, Joe Mesi is commanding a comfortable lead with about 52 percent of the vote and more than 80 percent of the districts reporting. Those numbers are coming from the Erie County Board of Elections, where you can track other races, as well. Michele Iannello is in second with 35 percent, followed by Dan Ward who has about 13 percent of the vote.

Please note that all of these figures are unofficial and incomplete. We will report later with the more complete yet still unofficial results, which should be coming in from the Genesee County Board of Elections. We also hope to get some commentary from the Democrats, and hopefully a statement from the projected winners.

September 8, 2008 - 8:40pm
posted by Jon Powers in congress, election, Jon Powers, NY-26.

 

For more than a year, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of Western New Yorkers who represent the best of our community as I have campaigned for the 26th Congressional district. This campaign has been invigorating, encouraging, at times ugly, but always worthwhile. It has always been a great honor to listen to so many hard-working and dedicated Western New Yorkers as they tell me their stories.
 
Running for Congress is never something I expected to do, but when I returned to Western New York after serving nearly 15 months in Iraq, I was disheartened and frustrated.
 
I saw a Congressman who claimed to be one of the most powerful men in Washington stand by and watch our manufacturing jobs leave and plants close while my fellow soldiers in Iraq lacked the necessary body armor and equipment. I looked toward Washington and wondered what happened to the greatest generation leadership that mobilized our nation. 
 
I quickly learned that few people in Washington were interested in real solutions and that was unacceptable.
 
The America you and I grew up believing in and the America I went to war for had lost its voice in Washington. The America we believe in would not have sent my fellow soldiers and me to war without a plan or the proper equipment, the America we believe in would not allow gas to reach $4 a gallon without a path to secure our energy independence, the America we believe in would not our best and brightest leave Western New York because of a lack of opportunity. 
 
So my family and I decided to run for Congress to change that, and built a grassroots campaign that is based the voices of our friends and neighbors. We started this year holding 30 house parties in 30 days and spent last week visiting all 7 counties in 7 days. Anyone from Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming or Livingston Counties will tell you that they see me more than anyone else asking for their vote.
 
We have hosted roundtables talking with teachers about education, farmers about agriculture, small business owners about the rising cost of health care and students about the rising costs of education.
 
Our conversation earned us the endorsements of every single county party, the working men and women represented by organized labor and turned enough heads on the national stage that the National Democratic Party endorsed our race placing in their Red to Blue program. So did Senator John Kerry, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Generals Wesley Clark and Paul Eaton, along with the only other Iraq veteran in Congress Rep. Patrick Murphy.
 
But our support does not stop there; the Netroots community has been pivotal. You allow America to have a conversation about the issues even when the media is not interested, and your financial support helps our campaign compete against millionaires.
 
I know that together we can build a foundation for good paying jobs here in Western New York keeping our best and brightest in the area. Together we can bring our troops home safely, securely and soon, and we can secure our energy independence.
 
Your help in the online community helped us expand our conversation with voters and kept issues at the center of your discussions. For your support – to everyone who helped spread the word, chipped in financially, or patted me on the back at Netroots Nation, I thank you.
 
For those of you in the 26th Congressional District, I ask for your vote tomorrow. We have come a long way and there is much that can be done.
 
If you believe that together we have the power to change Washington, this campaign is about you.
September 8, 2008 - 5:38pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, politics, Alice Kryzan.

This is the third post in our series about the two heated Democrat primary battles that will be decided at the polls Tuesday. Read our earlier post for the full details.

In anticipation of these races, we sent out the same question to all six candidates and asked each to please respond by the end of the day today. We've heard from three so far. We'll publish those and add the others as they come in. We asked the candidates a pretty open-ended two-part question: What are your final thoughts heading into the primary? What would you want the voter to have in mind about you as he or she heads to the polls?

We will publish each one in the order that we received it.

Third is Alice Kryzan, candidate for the 26th Congressional District. Kryzan had this to say:

At the end of the day, I think the question for the voters is: who has the experience, the passion, and the judgment to address the serious issues facing the people of New York’s 26th District. I am the same candidate I was when I entered this race; with the same record, the same values and the same commitment to serve the working families of Western New York. I have been forthright and consistent about what I have done, who I am and where I stand on the issues. If the people of New York 26 send me to represent them in Washington, I will wake up every morning and ask myself one question: Is what I’m doing today going to help the working men and women of Western New York?  And if the answer is “no” it won’t be a priority of mine.

Our next post will be from Joe Mesi, candidate for the 61st Senate District.

September 8, 2008 - 3:27pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, election, Jon Powers.

Genesee County Democrats will head to the polls tomorrow to help decide a pair of important primary races for the region. Three contenders square off in the race for the 26th Congressional District: Alice Kryzan, Jack Davis and Jon Powers. Three more take up the fight for the 61st Senate District: Michele Iannello, Joe Mesi and Dan Ward.

In anticipation of the two races, we sent out the same question to all six candidates and asked each to please respond by the end of the day today. We've heard from three so far. We'll publish those and add the others as they come in. We asked the candidates a pretty open-ended two-part question: What are your final thoughts heading into the primary? What would you want the voter to have in mind about you as he or she heads to the polls?

We will publish each one in the order that we received it.

First is Jon Powers, candidate for the 26th Congressional District. Powers had this to say:

I am running for Congress because the America you and I grew up believing in and the America I went to war for had lost its voice in Washington. The America we believe in would not have sent my fellow soldiers and me to war without a plan or the proper equipment, the America we believe in would not allow gas to reach $4 a gallon without a path to secure our energy independence, the America we believe in would not our best and brightest leave Western New York because of a lack of opportunity.

So my family and I decided to run for Congress to change that, and built a grassroots campaign that is based the voices of our friends and neighbors. We started this year holding 30 house parties in 30 days and spent last week visiting all 7 counties in 7 days.

Your neighbors in Orleans, Wyoming and Livingston Counties will tell you that they see me more than anyone else asking for your vote. I’m pleased to spend so much time talking to voters in every county of this district.

We have hosted roundtables talking with farmers about agriculture, small business owners about the rising cost of health care and students about the rising costs of education.

We held a series of teacher roundtables that we kicked off at Main Street Coffee in Bataiva last month. We talked with educators from LeRoy, Batavia, Rochester and Albion. Here is what Russ Stressing of The Batavian wrote.

These conversations have earned the endorsements of all 7 county parties and I am proud that Genesee County was the first Democratic County Party to join our campaign.

I ask for your vote tomorrow. If you believe that together we have the power to change Washington, this campaign is about you.

Our next post will be from Dan Ward, candidate for the 61st Senate.

September 4, 2008 - 2:09pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, Chris Lee.

Republican candidate for the 26th Congressional District Chris Lee came by the office of The Batavian this afternoon, just to say hi. We were pleased to meet him and told him he could come by any time. Lee said that he's a reader of our site and comes through Batavia about once a week. He was out at a farm in Holley today, he said.

He also told us he would be glad to sit for a video interview, which we hope to put together after the primaries. Democrats still have yet to decide their candidate for the 26th. They've got three choices right now: Jack Davis, Jon Powers and Alice Kryzan.

We encourage anyone who isn't armed with a pellet gun to stop by our office and say hello anytime they're in the neighborhood. We're not always here. But if we are, we'd be glad to see you. For those of you who don't already have our address, it's: 200 E. Main St. We're in Room 5 on the second floor. It's the Masonic Temple, next door to Charles Men's Shop.

UPDATE (by Howard): 26th District Blog reports that today, Lee wrapped up his district wide farm tour.

September 3, 2008 - 1:33pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in congress, Democrats.

Democratic congressional contenders Jon Powers and Alice Kryzan faced off in a debate yesterday, and Mark Gillespie put together a fine, if lengthy, article on the showdown for the Daily News. Powers and Kryzan met in Geneseo to present their platforms. Fellow Democrat Jack Davis, Republican Chris Lee and Independent Anthony Fumerelle, all of whom were invited to attend, skipped out on the debate. All five candidates are vying for the soon-to-be open seat to represent the 26th Congressional District.

Davis announced last week that he would not join any debates with candidates who did not pledge to turn down special interest money and a five-point pledge to preserve Social Security—a decision roundly criticized in the media from Niagara Falls to Rochester.

Kryzan, "a retired environmental lawyer," took the opportunity to go on the offensive. She criticized Powers for accepting special interest money, claiming that she was the only Democratic candidate that had not taken any money from special interest groups. (It seems each candidate is making the claim not to be taking special interest money while accusing the other two of doing just that.)

Powers countered that the groups that have been supporting him are unions that have members in this district.

Kryzan repeated her charges, including an accusation that Powers has accepted money from a defense contractor—at which point an audience member shouted "Lay off it, already!"

(I wonder if that was our very own Russ Stresing.)

Powers did not shy from getting in a jab at the absent Davis—who refused to shake hands with Powers at a parade in Clarence Monday. "He isn't here tonight to address the challenges facing America's middle class workers," he said of Davis in his closing remarks.

Both candidates repeatedly cited their strengths—Powers as a former army captain, Kryzan's experience in law—but when it came down to the questions, they gave most of the same answers. Both support incentives for small businesses to help them better compete with national retail firms—who would say no to that. Both support renewable energy. Both vow to bring the federal funds home. Both oppose a constitutional ban on gay marriage and drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Where they differed most is in the relationship of a U.S. representative to his or her constituents.

Powers spoke of fostering national service programs such as Americorps, the Peace Corps, and similar programs for teachers and nurses to service inner city and poor rural areas. He specifically cited a nursing shortage in Dansville.

Kryzan said she would focus more on developing projects that would more directly benefit the 26th District.

All in all, fine coverage from Gillespie.

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