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Jon Powers

Thoughts on Chris Lee and the campaign, the day after the election

By Howard B. Owens

What I write below started as a comment in response to John Roach in response to this post, but as I wrote, I realized this is probably just my wrap up commentary on the 26th District congressional race. So, first John's excellent comment, and then my response.

It could have been the DNC negative ads that killed off Alice. Who ever came up with the Chris Lee was fired line at the last minute did Alice no good. Even if the charge is true, the way it came out, and at the last minute, made it look like a stunt. The China thing the national DNC lied about did not help either.

Chris told and/or his side told lies also. It just seems the side that lied the most lost.

John, Chris negative ads, as I said, were pretty devoid of substance -- "liberal trial lawyer" ... "she will raise taxes" ... scripted in 1988.  They had nothing to do with who Alice Kryzan really is, but painted her as characterture. They were relentless.

But I think the ads had the effect they were meant to have, which I didn't really think about until last night: They kept the base loyal.  Lee wasn't really trying, with those ads, to appeal to swing voters, just keep the GOP in the GOP column.  Drown out any positive message Kryzan might have.

And you're right, the DCCC did Kryzan no favors.  Whatever chance Kryzan had, the DCCC killed it. First, the negative ads were over the top and in no way truthful.  Second, they also crowded out Kryzan's message and didn't allow Alice to be Alice. In the end, they played right into the Lee/GOP strategy of muting Kryzan's plans and policy voice.

Kryzan's one chance of winning was to run a campaign of substance on issues, and not make it about Chris Lee. The DCCC tried to make it about Lee. Big mistake.

And you're right about the "fired" thing. I hadn't considered it from that light before. And in that light, you could make the case that the Kryzan campaign mishandled it, because they really tried to play it up.  Langworthy and Lee probably made stick the counter spin of "Kryzan's desperate campaign."

But let's face it, Jon Powers didn't do Kryzan many favors. He was slow to endorse her, and my sense from that is that the Democratic base was then slow to rally to her cause. He didn't start soon enough with the effort to get his name off the Working Families line. He didn't get out on the campaign trail for her soon enough.

That said, I'm optimistic that Chris Lee is a decent fellow.  I've met him once and he left a favorable first impression on me.  I remain concerned that he'll be a "reliable GOP vote" rather than an independent voice of and for the district. I would love a chance to sit down and talk with him at some length about his plans and his policies. Also, he's going to have a very tough job as a freshman congressman working within a decimated GOP minority.

Much has been made over earmarks (pork) the past two years, but the fact is, if you want to target meaningful reductions in Federal spending, pork is a poor choice of where to begin with the knife. Earmarks make up less than 5 percent of the Federal budget. But what earmarks do is allow a congressman to return some taxpayer money to the district.

If used to help build roads, upgrade other infrastructure, finance green business start ups, help local agencies get jobs done they could otherwise not afford, than earmarks help create jobs and make life better in a district. Earmarks shouldn't be used just to do favors for campaign donors.

So here's to hoping Lee will fight for the 26th District's share of pork, and then some.

As for being a "reliable GOP vote," I guess there are two ways of looking at that.  With the GOP in such dire straits in the House, the Republicans sticking together as the opposition party might have some mollifying effect on the Democrats (nothing against Democrats, but in any two-party Constitutional government, there should be some sort of opposition).

On the other hand, Lee has just won a seat that almost guarantees him no more than two terms in office (it will likely be eliminated in redistricting in 2012). The GOP is in disarray and will go through a good deal of soul searching and a few internal battles as it tries to rebuild a meaningful philosophical core.  That may take a generation or two, just as it did post-Hoover This would be a great time for a man like Lee to step out and define himself as an independent voice. It could be what makes or breaks his political career from 2012 onward.

There's no reason Lee can't fashion a voice and voting record that stands in opposition to the most extreme of Democratic plans, but doesn't kowtow to the Republican House leadership.  It will be interesting to see which path Lee chooses.  I haven't given up hope that Lee did what he had to do -- go along with the GOP election strategy  -- in order to safely win the seat, but that he has within him the capability to now step forward and better define himself as a legislator and as a representative.

Here's why getting Jon Powers off the ballot was important

By Howard B. Owens

How many voters haven't paid close attention to the election, just saw the negative commercials and then decided to vote for the third-party candidate?

Blogger Lauren, from Rochester, suggests she was planning to vote for Jon Powers:

The problem is that I've been watching Rochester TV for the past two months and can recite word for word all the low budget smear campaign commercials of local political hopefuls there.

I know all about Alice Kryzan and Chris Lee and how Alice accuses Chris of sending jobs to China and only caring about his small business making money, and Chris likes to constantly remind everyone how Alice is a "liberal trial lawyer". Truth be told, I side with Alice because at least she's acquainted with the law. Chris owns some electrician business or something equally unrelated to politics and is probably just trying to get in office so he can vote against Joe the Plumber taxes and maybe lower minimum wage. If I voted in Rochester, I'd probably vote for a third party guy simply because he didn't subject me to ominously voiced-over shitty commercials for two months, and leaving me the hell alone during It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is what I truly value in a candidate.

Despite every effort to get Kryzan on the Working Families line, the courts kept Powers, who reportedly moved out of state, on it.

It will be interesting to see how many votes that line gets and then speculate whether it could have made a difference.

Kryzan and Powers tour the 26th

By Philip Anselmo

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.

Jon Powers to start campaigning for Alice Kryzan

By Howard B. Owens

I hate robocalls. I hate any unsolicited call from people, organizations or businesses I don't know -- political, telemarketing or otherwise.

For voters of Genesee County, they're about to get one more caller: Jon Powers.

The D&C reports that Powers is going to record a robo call for Alice Kryzan, the 26th district congressional nominee for the Democratic party.

Powers lost to Kryzan in the primary and recently endorsed his former opponent.

Powers will also be in the district between now and election day making public appearances on behalf of Kryzan.

Jon Powers and his $5,000 campaign salary

By Howard B. Owens

Water Buffalo Press finds evidence that Jon Powers drew a salary from his campaign funds while running for office and even has cash on hand to live comfortably for a while yet.

Powers recent FEC filing gives us a better idea of just what these “reimbursements” were.  Remember that Powers was also being reimbursed already for credit card fees, meals, travel and health insurance.

It turns out these “reimbursements” are more accurately defined as a salary which Powers was drawing from the campaign account.

Powers latest filing shows a payment to the candidate in September in the amount of $5,000 listed with the true explanation of the amounts: Payroll.

This seems irregular to me.  I've never heard of a candidate drawing salary from campaign funds before.  But maybe it's more normal than I know.

Powers endorses Kryzan... finally

By Philip Anselmo

This letter (below) from Jon Powers to his supporters came my way this morning. Powers has finally come out on the side of fellow Democrat Alice Kryzan for the 26th Congressional District. Kryzan will face Republican Chris Lee.

Powers had all but disappeared after losing the Democratic nod to Kryzan during the primary. His camp went silent, and all calls and messages left with his campaign spokesperson went unreturned. Not too long ago, we even heard that he moved out of the state.

I pass on his letter in its entirety. Do you think Powers makes a strong case for Kryzan? Against Lee? Does his endorsement even mean anything to a district that he seems to have abandoned?


Over the last 18 months, together, we have worked to call attention to the many challenges Western New Yorkers face. I listened to families struggling because of our weakened economy, soldiers fighting in a war without the necessary equipment and returning without health care they have earned -- there is no question that our country is hurting because of Washington’s failed leadership. With just 18 days until Election Day, I write to urge you to vote for change. We have a chance to elect a new Member of Congress to represent the working men and women of Western New York and I hope you will join me in supporting Alice Kryzan for Congress.

Families in Western New York have a clear choice. As our youth are moving out of state to find jobs, do we want a representative who will continue to send our jobs overseas? Or do we want someone who will fight to grow good paying Green-collar and Green-tech jobs that will move Western New York into the 21st Century.

Do we want someone who will continue to fail our veterans and military families or someone who will work to restore honor to our fighting forces?

Do we want someone in Washington to continue the failed economic policies of the Bush Administration or do we want someone who will work toward relieving the tax burden on the Middle Class?

The choice between the two candidates campaigning for the 26th Congressional District is clear for Western New Yorkers, and that is why I am endorsing Alice Kryzan.

Alice will fight for the middle class and work to bring a new generation of jobs back to Western New York. She has signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq and will take care of our returning veterans.

Chris Lee talks about a new direction, but clearly supports the status quo. His website fails to even mention veterans or our brave men and women currently fighting in two wars. That, I believe, is proof of his lack of compassion he has for those who are defending our nation.

The choice between Alice Kryzan and Chris Lee could not be clearer for the working families of Western New York. Western New York deserves a representative in Congress who will fight for us.

You can learn more about Alice’s vision for our country at her website

Please volunteer, spread the word, and help us bring real change to Washington by voting for Alice on November 4th.


Powers issues statement officially ending his campaign

By Howard B. Owens

Well, well, Jon Powers has finally made a statement about the status of his campaign -- it's officially over, finally -- and his move out of Western New York.

Alan Bedenko received an e-mail from Powers, which he quotes in full.

The letter is notable for it's lack of a clear endorsement of Alice Kryzan, and how quickly Powers has been willing to abandon WNY.  He doesn't say in the least that he moved out of state in order to help Kryzan's campaign.  He took a job that gave him an opportunity to be nationally focused, rather than focused on WNY.

He does thank his supporters:

We want to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication. Please continue to serve in your community and find a way to get involved in this year’s elections.

This campaign was never about an individual, it was about this community. If you believe that together we have the power to change Washington, then please continue to work toward the dramatic change our country needs.

The case of the missing Democratic congressional candidate

By Howard B. Owens

Has Jon Powers moved out of state without saying goodbye?  That appears to be the case.

Here's a Rochester Turning post on Powers being taken off the Working Families line:

Apparently, the move is now possible because Powers has moved out of the state. I can’t find that from any other news source, but if it is true, it is very disappointing. That, combined with his continued inability to just endorse Kryzan, is the kind of thing I would have expected from the Jack Davis campaign. But it seems all too clear now: Powers was in the race mostly for personal ambition and he’s just too bitter about losing to campaign for Alice Kryzan.

The Buffalo News reported Powers apparent relocation two days ago.

Alan Bedenko posted his thoughts, as well.

Who knows what's going on, but the fact that Democrat supporters are questioning events makes Powers quiet move out of state look sketchy. Was he really in this to make a difference for Western New York?

Can WNY lead in new green businesses?

By Howard B. Owens

The smartest thing I heard from Jon Powers during his campaign was about turning Western New York into a decent place to start new, green businesses.

I thought of that when reading Thomas Friedman's column today.

But that is not the point of this column. The point is, we don’t just need a bailout. We need a buildup. We need to get back to making stuff, based on real engineering not just financial engineering. We need to get back to a world where people are able to realize the American Dream — a house with a yard — because they have built something with their hands, not because they got a “liar loan” from an underregulated bank with no money down and nothing to pay for two years. The American Dream is an aspiration, not an entitlement.

In a green economy, we would rely less on credit from foreigners “and more on creativity from Americans,” argued Van Jones, president of Green for All, and author of the forthcoming “The Green Collar Economy.” “It’s time to stop borrowing and start building. America’s No. 1 resource is not oil or mortgages. Our No. 1 resource is our people. Let’s put people back to work — retrofitting and repowering America. ... You can’t base a national economy on credit cards. But you can base it on solar panels, wind turbines, smart biofuels and a massive program to weatherize every building and home in America.”

So even if Jon Powers ain't the 26th District, why can't WNY be a leader in creating new green businesses? Does it take a congress rep to make that happen, or just visionary entrepreneurs?

Responding To Mike Wrona

By Robert Harding

After Alice Kryzan's primary victory on Tuesday, I went over to see what Mike Wrona had to say. After all, Wrona is a vocal Kryzan supporter and has criticized me for my support of Jon Powers in the past. What I discovered is that, even with his candidate winning, Mike Wrona still wants to divide us instead of unite us.

Wrona wrote a post that called Kryzan a "big winner" on Tuesday. He also decided to take jabs at myself and my friend Alan Bedenko, a fellow blogger and Jon Powers supporter. He also seemed to question whether or not we are progressive. I don't know how that does anyone any favors in this situation, but it's not exactly what you should be doing after your candidate wins a primary. Wrona also said that we fell for the "Iraq War veteran label." There is no "label" when you are a veteran. If you are a veteran, you ARE a veteran. It's not a label. It's an honor. Wrona also asserted in that post that the local party leadership in all seven counties picked Powers because of money and "form over substance." Actually, Wrona is wrong. The four rural counties backed Powers first and it was because he is genuine, listens to voters, is very approachable and personable and wanted to go to Washington to be our representative. He traveled every corner of this district early on and that didn't change throughout this campaign. So Wrona clearly does not understand why the party leadership backed Powers.

Wrona wrote another post about Kryzan getting the DCCC's backing. He started off the post by saying "better late than never." Better late than never? Why would the DCCC back a candidate who showed virtually no fundraising ability after being in the race since September 2007 (technically) and a candidate that was very quiet in this race until about a few weeks before the primary? I remember seeing Kryzan at an event in June. It was the Wyoming County Flag Day Party. I guess she had a few supporters there and that's where she stayed. I never saw her walk around the room to introduce herself. Whether it was a pro-Powers crowd or not, people still would have greeted her and treated her with respect.

In that same post, Wrona makes a blatantly false claim. He claims that Charlie Mallow, the current chair of the Genesee County Democrats, said he would be supporting Chris Lee in November. This is not true. What Charlie said is in this post on The Batavian. If you notice, there is an update in that post which reads, "Some will seek other options but, the vast majority will sooner or later support her before Election Day. We are Democrats; we have an ideology that puts us more in line with Kryzan than Lee."

That was his response after he was asked whether or not the county would run away from Kryzan in November. I guess Mike Wrona didn't like that answer so he decided to make up his own. That's unfortunate, especially when he also suggests that Charlie's county committee should act (Charlie has already said that he's not going to serve as county chair again) as well as the state party AND even the governor. Wrona sure went to great lengths to spread a lie.

I will always be a fan of Jon Powers and most importantly, a friend of Jon Powers. But I have never, EVER been a sore loser. I reached out to Alice's campaign Wednesday morning and sent along my congratulations. I have been in contact with them and they seem to be very receptive of rural support and maybe even some netroots support. This is not an easy time for me. I will honestly say that I'm not in Alice's corner yet, but she is a better option than the Republican and she is better than Jack Davis. I can't just throw away 14 months of support for Jon Powers in only a few days. It will take time to get over this tough loss and then refocus our attention on the key races in our state and in our area.

My suggestion to Mike Wrona would be to be more of a uniter and less of a divider. This isn't the first time he had posted fabrications on his blog about myself or someone I know. I usually tell Republicans that we can all have our opinions but we can't have our own version of the facts. I shouldn't be saying that to someone who touts himself as a progressive Democrat. If Mike Wrona wants his candidate to win, he needs to help Kryzan embrace others who were Powers supporters and Davis supporters. Kryzan won with 41 percent of the vote. That means a majority of Democrats in the 26th did not vote for her. She needs to appeal to these people. I don't think she wants one of her supporters saying the things Wrona has said. It does her a great disservice when she and her campaign are working hard to try and contact key people in this area, especially rural chairs like Mallow.

Questions for Jon Powers...

By Philip Anselmo

We've been trying since the results of the Democratic primary for the 26th Congressional District were announced Tuesday to get some questions answered by the campaign for Jon Powers. We have not received a response from the campaign, and no one else involved could answer our questions.

So we thought to post those questions here on the site and maybe get a response that way. Powers garnered a lot of support in Genesee County, and we thought folks would be interested to know what their candidate would do now that he lost the endorsement in this race.

Initially (Wednesday), these questions were sent to the campaign:

1. Following last night's defeat in the primary, what are Jon Powers' plans for the rest of the election season? Does he have any plans to enter any other races in the next few years? Try again for Congress? Run on another party's endorsement for this same seat?

2. What happens with all of the funds raised by the Powers campaign? Will that money go to another campaign or to the Democrats in general? If not, where does it go?

UPDATE (By Howard):  What I want to know:

1. Will Powers still campaign as  Working Families candidate (even though WF has apparently endorsed Kryzan)?

2. Will Powers endorse Kryzan?

Blogger makes interesting points as to why Powers lost

By Howard B. Owens

The 26th District blog has a thoughtful post up on "Why Powers Failed" to win the primary.

A lot of it boils down to too much confidence in a mirage of grassroots support, and a poorly managed media message.

There was no real media team. For a campaign built upon “grassroots support” and on-line activism, there was nothing interesting nor innovative about their Web site. ...

I should note that the campaign’s communications person was more than happy to talk to me when it came to spreading positive messages. Almost every e-mail send inquiring about War Kids Relief or anything off message were ignored. After awhile I stopped receiving any contact at all.


I am a firm believer in the echo chambers ability to distort perception. If you spend all your time with people who think like you do, then you start believing everyone thinks like you do. No doubt the Powers team would go into halls and see a hundred people or knock on doors with a few dozen volunteers and begin to think they were a part of something.

The same thing happened in the “blogosphere”. In a district of this size it is true that a few hundred people could help sway things, but if that is all the support and name recognition you have, it won’t be enough. It was clear in reading the financial reports, Powers did not have the “local” or “grassroots” support he was claiming when it came to fund raising. That lead me to wonder if he actually had the on the ground support as well.

Even as a somewhat distant observer, I found myself, as I read through the post, finding the points persuasive.

No more Powers... Now what for the Dems in Genesee County? Thoughts?

By Philip Anselmo

A win in the Democrat primary by Alice Kryzan yesterday played up across the media last night and this morning as a "shock" and an "upset victory" has hit especially hard here in Genesee County. Whatever reasons you want to give for the win—that people were just fed up with the tooth-and-nail battles between Jack Davis and Jon Powers is getting the most cred in the papers and blogs today—the end result is the same: voters said no to the bigger names and yes to the lesser known.

Buffalo Pundit has this to say:

Because Powers and Davis spent so much time bashing each other, 2/3 of Kryzan’s job was done for her without her having to spend a dime. She needed one thing to stand out, and the “boys, take it somewhere else” ad was just the ticket. She comes out of this relatively unscathed, so Republican Chris Lee doesn’t have a lot of negative ammunition to use against her. Hopefully Kryzan is able to capitalize on the desire for change in Washington and take the seat away from the Republicans.

Nor is the Pundit alone in finding solace in the loss of his favored candidate—Powers—in the train wreck conclusion to the political career of one of the Democrats least favorite representatives: Jack Davis. And least favorite representative is a euphemism wrapped in a pink bow compared to what I've heard from many Democrats about Davis. So many of them outright detest the man.

But what does it all mean for Genesee County? Jon Powers was the favored candidate here by nearly a hundred votes over Kryzan and another fifty over Davis. I haven't heard anything from the Powers crew since the loss, and I have to imagine that they are somewhere dark and cool nursing the shell shock of a campaign that went from the little engine that could to a primetime fight to: Hey, we've got a real chance to win this thing, only to crash and burn amidst the collateral damage of the negative campaigning.

So I turned to Charlie Mallow, who, for one more week anyway, is the chairman of the Genesee County Democrats. He put it pretty simply and straight out.

I think we have been left with a candidate that we know very little about. Alice’s win was surprising and not the will of the voters in our county. There is going to be a period were people will come to their own conclusions about who they will support in November. All of the active Democrats in our district were behind Powers and whole party infrastructure was setup to support him. It’s going to take a lot for Alice to turn the ship around and develop the support she is going to need in November. Alice has been to Genesee County, her record defending chemical companies in lawsuits against people who suffered due to their neglect of the environment isn’t sitting well with me and it didn’t sit well with the core of our committee when we were vetting candidates. District wid, it’s clear this vote was about supporting someone who wasn’t Jack Davis or Jon Powers. Jack Davis ran the most despicable campaign that I can ever remember. His baseless attacks on Jon Powers turned the voters off. I believe Powers was stuck in a tough a position defending himself from Davis and it was felt that he hit back too hard and dirtied himself.

Ouch. There's some real hurt in the county this morning. Charlie's right, if not a little bit exaggerated, in his statement that the endorsement of Alice by the Democrats was not the will of the voters in this county. Powers pulled 621 votes. Kryzan took in 524.

So what does it mean for the future of the party? What does it mean going into the general election in November? I asked Charlie what would happen and if Democrats in the county might turn away from Kryzan, for whatever reason.

He wrote back to me:

Some will seek other options but, the vast majority will sooner or later support her before Election Day. We are Democrats; we have an ideology that puts us more in line with Kryzan than Lee.

Lee is Chris Lee, the Republican that will be running against Kryzan in the 26th Congressional District. His television ads were already running as the primary results were coming in last night. I guess that's game on.

What are your thoughts, whether you're a Democrat or Republican? Will you support Kryzan? Were you a Powers supporter who will not back Kryzan? Why do you think she ended up getting the nod?

Some thoughts on tomorrow’s primary from Jon Powers

By Jon Powers


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.

Prepping for the primary... Jon Powers

By Philip Anselmo

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.

Hardline with Harwick Congressional Debate

By Howard B. Owens

Here's the audio from today's 26th Congressional Debate between Alice Kryzan and Jon Powers.

I haven't had time yet to listen to it. If anybody wants to write up a report of it, that would be great.

As for Jack Davis not participating -- his reported demands that his opponents sign various pledges before he'll debate them is down right anti-democratic (and I mean that with a small "d").

If you run for office, you don't get to dictate what issues your opponent will support, what ethics (or not) they will follow, what sort of campaign they will run. To expect otherwise is just basically anti-American.  Either Jack Davis wants to be a lawfully elected representative, or he wants to be a dictator. To dodge debates under the pretense of lecturing other candidates is unconscionable.

We need representatives who will speak up for what they believe without fear or favor. We need representatives who will be transparent about what they believe and why they believe it. We need representatives who will discuss with anybody -- other candidates, media or constituent -- what they believe an why. We should fear those candidates who purposely make themselves inaccessible.

Again, i'm not taking sides here. I'm just saying why Jack Davis was wrong to dodge the debate.

And the Winner Is......$$$$$........ Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

By Patrick D. Burk

So here we are.  Only in Western New York would the Democrat Party take a wonderful chance and screw it up by having two forced primaries.  Now I know this is the Amercian way of democracy....but it goes to prove what has been said before, " I don't belong to an organized political party.... I am a Democrat."   Here we sit and with just a few days to the Primary,  the Democratic Candidates for Congress are battling on the airwaves, in the media and on the stump.  One has too much money, one has raised money wrong and from the wrong people and one did legal work for chemical companies at Love Canal so therefor she must be a demon.  Whew...and we thought Clinton and Barack were ununifiable? (THANK GOD THAT IS OVER AS WELL!!!!!!)  

The most important thing the Democratic Party had to do was to have a strong candidate to win against the Republican, rich guy - power broker and overseas job shipper who turned more jobs over to overseas companies and sold out on Western New York. I guess the Republican guy just wants to earn his Western New York Congressional salary and live in Washington, DC.  I hear the cherry blossoms are beautiful there.  Let's hope the rich can't buy thier ticket to see them....let's hope the voters look long and hard at this one.

Anyway...that is what is happening on the Congressional side.

On a "happier" note (Did I say Happier????), the race to run for the 61st Senate Seat is also equally challenging for the Donkeycrats.  (Are you sure I said happier???) Here we have a popular, hard-working, competent Erie County Legislator who is endorsed by the County Democratic Committees pitted against a former boxer and "you guessed it"....Her brother-in-law.  If this was Texas, this would be a episodic plot for that old TV Show "Dallas".  As the Republicans put up yet another upper crust muckety-muck, the Democrats roll around in the muck to see who can run and win 8 weeks later.  I am keeping my idea for a TV Script because there has to be one in here somewhere.  I can just see the pan of the camera on the field as the three candidates come toward the camera on sturdy horses... the dust settling as their faces are shot one-by-one into the camera frame with dour expressions..... too funny...anyway I digress.

 I am a BIG supporter of Mary Lou Rath and have always known that her shoes would be hard to fill...she truly cares about our communities and serves us well.  She will be a tough act to follow. Michele Iannello is a tough woman with a lot to be said about what she will do for this district.  She, like Mary Lou, cares about us and our communities.  The brother-in-law, on the other hand, has run for many public offices including Eire County Legislator and Executive, has won a few and has lost a few.  He currently sits on the Amherst Town Board and he talks a lot about his past......maybe that is because there isn't too much on his plate for the future.....I think Amherst should keep him.

Then we have Baby Joe Mesi.....nice guy.  While I was President of the New York State Junior Chamber of Commerce I bestowed upon him the honor of Outstanding New Yorker.  This was given to him because of his powerful approach to being a positive influence on young people's lives.  He didn't just box.... he showed us all what an organized program for young people can do?  He cares about his community.  I give him that much but I guess I find that the toughness that a boxer needs to survive is just not what I think we need in the "Ring of Albany".....  You need to be smart, savvy and quick.  You need to look for opportunities to help Western New York and you have to bring that home.  Baby Joe is a nice guy.....Michele Iannello is a hard-working public servant.  I hope when the dust settles, Baby Joe will still be doing his community service and the brother-in-law is sent back to Amherst.  Let the tough lady from Kenmore take on the upper crusty Republican in the General Election.

So that is that.  Instead of duking it out and coming up with two solid for each position, the Democrats come up with three, forcing a primary that is sure not to hand any one candidate the 50% for either race. In the midst of this whirl of politics, we can only hope that the regrouping, refunding and campaigning can be accomplished in 8 short weeks, but then again...I wish all elections in total only took 8 weeks.  I wonder if I would miss all the signs in my yard....  Please vote in the Democrat Primary.


Powers knocks Lee for profits from sale of company

By Howard B. Owens

The Powers campaign is trying to make an issue of who Chris Lee (the Republican candidate for the 26th District) sold his company to.  The D&C:

The company Lee helped manage and his father founded was sold for $395 million less than a year after the buyer, an international conglomerate, pleaded guilty to two felony charges related to sensitive defense technology that had been sent to China, Britain, Singapore and Japan. The conglomerate, ITT, also paid $100 million in fines.

The Lee campaign maintains that International Motion Control, an engineering and technology company founded by Patrick Lee, was sold to a division of ITT that was separate from ITT's defense operations, which incurred the charges and fines.


"As a combat veteran, Jon Powers is deeply troubled by anyone who profited from a company that gave our national security secrets to the Chinese," said John Gerken, Powers' campaign manager. (via Rochester Turning)

It seems a stretch to knock a guy for legally selling his company.  It  doesn't seem like the sort of thing that will resonate with voters, and what Powers is doing is reminding people that Lee is an experienced, successful business man -- something that Powers, for all his great military experience -- doesn't have in his portfolio.  While that doesn't disqualify Powers for office, why draw attention to it?

It also seems to be a political misstep for Powers to raise this issue now, before he's even won the primary. By the time the general election rolls around, this will be a stale story that most media won't cover.  (Though, a lot of times campaigns get these stories planted in the press so they have a clip to include in a hit piece mailer. The timing, then, doesn't matter.)

I don't know much about International Motion Control, but if it were the case that IMC dealt in defense-related technology that could maybe make its way into Chinese hands via ITT, then Mr. Lee's judgment and fitness for office could be legitimately questioned.  But merely profiting from the sale? That's a stretch.

There isn't much on the web now about IMC, but I did find this press release about the sale. The list of products appears pretty non-threatening. However, it is interesting that Mr. Lee outsourced some manufacturing to Asian countries. That could be a liability for him in this district, but it seems Jack Davis has the stronger track record to make that case.

Chris Lee's campaign site. Jon Powers  campaign site.

Video attacks Davis for being old and achieving the American Dream

By Howard B. Owens

This morning, Buffalo Pundit embeds a YouTube video that attacks Jack Davis for being old and rich -- nothing said about his positions on policies.

The video is cute and well produced, but it's also offensive.

First, Jack Davis is a self-made man.  He represents the historical promise of America -- that anybody with a good idea, who works hard and makes good decisions can be successful. Attacking Jack Davis for being rich is like attacking America, because you're saying it's wrong to build successful businesses and to create jobs, and that people shouldn't have the basic economic freedom to benefit from the fruits of their labor.

Second, imagine a political video that attacked a candidate for being a woman, or black, or handicapped. Who -- especially among self-described progressives --  would find such prejudice anything but outrageously bigoted? So why is ageism suddenly OK? Is it bad to grow old, to acquire experience, to have a perspective that reaches back further than "Friends"?

The question needs to be asked: Are Democrats making a mistake to throw so much support behind Jon Powers while attacking Jack Davis so voraciously?

Voter registration for the 26th District, as of April 1, 2008, is 40 percent Republican. Despite the GOP stranglehold on the mostly rural counties, Davis picked up 48 percent of the vote in 2006, and his 44 percent in 2004 (when Bush garnered 55 percent of the district vote), was pretty darn respectable when compared to the 22 percent Ayesha F. Nariman tallied for the Democrats in 2002 (which shows you to what extent Democrats in the 26th are willing to vote Republican -- there still seem to be a lot of Reagan Democrats around).

In both of Davis' loses, he was running against an incumbent. This time, the seat is open.

Setting aside his wacky anti-immigration pronouncements, Davis has a message that appeals to rust-belt conservative voters -- protectionism on jobs, cut spending and taxes,  save social security and reduce the influence of special interests.

While Powers has an admirable position on job growth, he seems squishy on spending and taxes (his website addresses neither issue). He'll be vulnerable to the tried-and-true GOP "Liberal" attack.

At first glance, Republican Chris Lee looks like an urbane empty suit. He has career-politician-in-the-making written all of him. He seems to have no ties to nor affinity for a rural county like Genesee. If he wins in November, he's likely going to represent Western New York for the next five terms. 

So the question Democrats attacking Davis might want to ask themselves -- are they ready to accept that outcome?

Davis may not meet any body's picture of the ideal candidate, but at most, he's going to serve two terms, then the race is wide open again and anything can happen.

Just some food for thought.  Again, I'm non-partisan and have no affinity for any particular candidate.



Not all Democrats are in love with Jon Powers

By Howard B. Owens

I just stumbled across blog post by Linda Stephans that casts a more critical eye on Jon Powers than we usually get around here.

Compared to Kryzan and Davis, Jon Powers has an exceedingly thin resume.   He joined the army to get the education benefits and was sent to Iraq.  After he returned to civilian life, he became a part-time substitute teacher.

The one thing that he could really boast of in his campaign was a nonprofit organization he started called War Kids Relief, meant to help Iraqi youth.  Now, the Buffalo News reports that the War Kids Relief isn't all it's cracked up to be. Read their story HERE. Seems Powers puffed up things to grab the interest of the media and may have profited from the project more than he should have.


Oh, one more thing about Powers.  He's a flipflopper par excellence.  Example:  At the start of his campaign, he told Democrats for Life he was on their side about abortion.  Didn't believe in it, couldn't support it.  Then, when he talked with Planned Parenthood, he told them he was pro-choice all the way.

That ploy came back to bite him.  The head of Dems for Life in New York had contributed money to his campaign.  When she found out Powers was telling folks he was pro-choice she asked for her money back.

There's no link or other evidence to back up the allegation.

It should be noted, as to the charge that Powes resume is thin: He was a captain in the armed forces during a time of combat. That is a heck of a line or anybody's CV.

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