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NY-23 2014 Tag

The last two Democratic congressional nominees in my home district NY-23, which stretches along the "Southern Tier," have been Ithaca-area liberals. Nate Shinagawa ran a credible campaign in 2012, and lost by almost exactly the party difference in the district, which is R+3. Democrats had high hopes for Martha Robertson in 2014, but she collapsed under the weight of her past progressive policies and Legal Insurrection's investigations, and lost by 25 points. It appears that national Democrats are giving up on running another Ithaca liberal, and are bringing in an unknown retired military officer from out of state to challenge incumbent Republican Tom Reed, as reported in the Buffalo News, Former White House military aide Plumb to challenge Rep. Tom Reed:
A former top military aide in the Obama White House has returned home to the Jamestown area to prepare to challenge Rep. Tom Reed in the 2016 election. John F. Plumb, who served as director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council, told The Buffalo News that family and friends persuaded him to move back to the Southern Tier, thinking he could be a strong Democratic challenger to Reed, the Republican from Corning...

There have been few electoral races in which Legal Insurrection played a more decisive role than in the congressional race in my home district NY-23 this cycle. Martha Robertson was challenging incumbent Republican Tom Reed, who won the district in 2012 by about 4 points. Reed was considered vulnerable. Robertson was the promising star in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee candidate roster slated to take Reed out. Robertson earned the coveted "Red-to-Blue" designation, meaning that she was one of a small number of Democratic prospects to flip a Republican seat. Robertson was an Emily's List favorite. Money poured in to support Robertson. But Robertson's campaign never really got off the ground as she geared up in the fall of 2013. Our accurate and in depth reporting was a part of that failure. We exposed a false campaign fundraising solicitation that claimed GOP operatives tried to take down Robertson's website during a key fundraising period. That report, which Robertson struggled to deal with, haunted the Robertson campaign for the rest of the campaign. We exposed Robertson's history of supporting single-payer and plan to use Obamacare as the stepping stone. That is not a popular view in this district.

The video of Martha Robertson, the Democratic challenger being laughed at when she lobbed a contrived "War Against Woman" accusation at incumbent Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), has gone viral. It has been picked up far and wide, and as of this writing has over 92,000 views on YouTube, up from 15,000 when I wrote a post about it on Friday, Martha Robertson “not ready for prime time” after War Against Women debate attack:
The line was laughable not just for the contrived way in which it was delivered, but also because it made no sense to anyone with local knowledge of Tom Reed. He is the epitome of someone who does not wage a war against women. He is known to be respectful and thoughtful both in his demeanor and consideration of legislation. Robertson, once again, obviously was just reading from a playbook, but using it against the wrong person. The “War Against Women” attack was a major blunder according the post-debate this analysis on the TV station that ran the debate: ...
“That shows me that Martha Robertson is not ready for primetime.”
The crowd reaction is being held up as part of a broader national narrative of the Democrats "War on Women" being a laugh line that does not reflect the reality that more and more women are siding with Republicans:

We covered last night the debate between Democratic challenger Martha Robertson and incumbent Republican Tom Reed. The "highlight" of the debate was the crowd laughing loudly when Robertson claimed Reed was "part of the War Against Women." That line, and the crowd's reaction, has received a fair amount of mocking attention. As of this writing, the video has over 15,000 views. The line was laughable not just for the contrived way in which it was delivered, but also because it made no sense to anyone with local knowledge of Tom Reed. He is the epitome of someone who does not wage a war against women.  He is known to be respectful and thoughtful both in his demeanor and consideration of legislation. Robertson, once again, obviously was just reading from a playbook, but using it against the wrong person. The "War Against Women" attack was a major blunder according the post-debate this analysis on the TV station that ran the debate:

I can't remember the last time a non-partisan major national analyst gave Democrat Martha Robertson much chance of winning in my home NY-23 District against incumbent Republican Tom Reed. Maybe early this year, when Robertson was the fresh face of the Democratic Party, the darling of Emily's List, and a coveted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) "Red-to-Blue" designee. The past few months, however, have not been kind to Robertson. Scandals that surfaced early in the campaign never went away and sapped her campaign of any momentum. Robertson's campaign seemed emotionally incapable of accepting responsibility for anything, and her hiding act from the media made her seem distant. Robertson's fat shaming attacks on Reed, which gained national attention, took a struggling campaign and turned it into something of a circus sideshow act. Robertson seemed not to know how to deal with Reed's "extreme Ithaca liberal" attack ads on Robertson other than to whine about it, which just repeated the message. It resonated. Then the DCCC pulled the plug on TV ad time reserved for the last two weeks of the campaign, in a devastating blow, not just financially, but in campaign credibility. When your strongest backers walk away, it sends a message to voters. Robertson had only about half the cash on hand as of September 30 as Reed, $498,529 to $919,391, so the loss of over $400,000 in DCCC spending hurts. The true Robertson believers are seeing conspiracy theories everywhere:

Martha Robertson, once one of the brightest lights in the Democratic theater, long ago lost her shine as a candidate challenging Republican Tom Reed. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had reserved $465,000 of airtime for the last two weeks of the election, in the hope that Robertson would be competitive. She's not competitive, having run one of the worst campaigns in the country, and the DCCC pulled the reservation. But not to worry, Robertson is getting help from the House Majority PAC, to the tune of $49,138, about 1/10th the planned DCCC ad buy. Actually, it's not even new money, just money not being pulled. Via New York State of Politics:
The DCCC may have abandoned Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson in her quest to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Reed next month, but she isn’t completely going it alone. The House Majority PAC just announced it is releasing new TV ads in 10 congressional districts across the country – including NY-23, where the House Democrats’ political arm, led by Long Island Rep. Steve Israel, recently cancelled two weeks worth of reserved air time so it could rededicate resources to protect incumbent Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is in a tight re-election battle with his 2012 opponent, former GOP Rep. Nan Hayworth, in NY-18. The ad, which appears below, is airing in the Elmira market only starting tomorrow. And the buy isn’t terribly large – $49,138 – although that goes a lot further in the Southern Tier than, say, the NYC media market....

It isn't over until the votes are counted, and miracles can happen, but it isn't looking good for Martha Robertson, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Tom Reed in my home NY-23 district. Once up a time, Robertson was a lead Democratic prospect to turn a seat from Red to Blue. But now Robertson is being written off by every non-partisan analyst following the race. We asked whether it was time for the DCCC to abandon Robertson, and pull its reserved television advertising. This NY Daily News analysis, showing Democrats struggling in upstate NY, cannot be good news for Robertson:
One year ago, Republicans had just shut down the government, and Democrats declared they might win back the House, in part by picking up Republican-held seats in New York. A year later, Democratic hopes of gaining up to three seats in New York are gone. They are more likely to lose three, and hope simply to break even. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. of Long Island calls New York a “microcosm” for the rest of the country. New York is proving Steve Israel right, as Democrats’ defensive posture in the Empire State mirrors a national political landscape where President Obama’s unpopularity leaves his party hoping to simply limit Republican gains. “If Democrats are ever going to win back the House, they need to pick up seats in upstate New York,” said David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report. That isn’t happening this year.
As to NY-23, The Daily News says Robertson's chances have collapsed:

Democrat Martha Robertson, whose struggling campaign to unseat incumbent Tom Reed has struggled (and then some), didn't need any more problems than she already had. But the Sierra Club, which has endorsed Robertson, just created more problems by suing to prevent conversion of a coal fired power plant in western New York to gas. That would result in the power plant shutting down, killing jobs. Tom Reed wasted no time in asserting that this reflected Robertson's "extreme liberal agenda": Reed Robertson NRG Sierra Club lawsuit
Tom Reed today vowed to stand firm against Martha Robertson's extreme liberal agenda and the devastating actions of Robertson’s liberal supporters and campaign donors who have filed suit against the Dunkirk NRG conversion in Chautauqua County. The Sierra Club has joined with Ratepayers and Community Interveners to file suit with the State Supreme Court to derail the $140 million dollar project to convert the NRG power plant to natural gas. The suit threatens the bipartisan solution supported by Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer – likewise, Robertson’s supporters also threaten local jobs with a potential devastating effect on Chautauqua County.

The campaign of Martha Robertson, the Democratic challenger in my home district of NY-23, really should have been on the list of the Worst Campaigns of 2014. While Robertson started out with strong support from Emily's List and was a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "Red-to-Blue" designee, literally nothing has gone right with the campaign, and a lot has gone wrong including:

Remember my post a week ago about Martha Robertson's visit to Cornell and the accompanying media lockdown enforced by the Cornell Democrats? Video and audio recording were not permitted, according to an announcement just before Robertson started her speech. I attended but did not record because of those rules and how watchful Cornell Democrats were to ensure compliance. A videographer for Cornell's main student newspaper, the Daily Sun, managed to take video, a nearly two-minute long clip of which was published on the Daily Sun's website two days later. But the Daily Sun's video was not just by chance. After learning of the existence of the video, I immediately contacted the Sun videographer, asking if she obtained prior permission. She said she did from both the Cornell Democrats club and the Martha Robertson Campaign. She went on to tell me that she worked for the Robertson campaign as an intern. Then it all clicked. Those video and audio recording rules were a ruse meant to avoid embarrassing video clips, like the one Professor Jacobson videotaped at a Robertson appearance at Cornell last spring.  If only a campaign intern could record, then any embarrassing clips would never see the light of day. Both the videographer and the Cornell Democrats president are in this image of interns tweeted by Robertson earlier this month:

It just never stops with the Martha Robertson campaign and its TV ads in NY-23, my home district. Robertson's "fat shaming" ads mocking incumbent Tom Reed gained national attention, for all the wrong reasons. Her ads also suffered bad truthfulness ratings. Now AARP is calling out Robertson for improperly using AARP's name in her ads, violating AARPs non-partisan status and falsely implying that AARP has taken sides in the race. The Elmira Star Gazette Reports:
AARP in New York issued an objection Wednesday to congressional candidate Martha Robertson’s use of the association’s name and logo in a campaign ad. Beth Finkel, state director for AARP in New York, issued a statement after learning of its name and logo appearing in the Ithaca Democrat’s campaign ads in the race for the 23rd Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning. “AARP does not endorse candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates,” Finkel said. “AARP did not authorize the use of its name or logo in currently running Martha Robertson campaign ads.” Contacted for comment, Seth Stein, Robertson’s communications director, issued the following statement: “The campaign’s ad in no way says that Martha has received the endorsement of the AARP, but simply cites them when discussing Congressman Tom Reed’s policies ....” The AARP logo appears in one segment of the 30-second ad.
Here is the offending ad:

The Democratic challenger for New York’s 23rd district, Martha Robertson, spoke briefly about her election campaign against incumbent Republican Tom Reed at a Cornell Democrats event Wednesday evening.

Speaking for 30 minutes to a crowd of about 40 students, Robertson, Cornell Class of 1975, mainly stuck to her autobiography and her major talking points.

We have full coverage at the Cornell Review, of which I am the Editor-in-Chief.

Legal Insurrection has covered extensively the race in NY23. Some more recent examples include: Democrat's fat shaming ads backfire in key House race (#NY23) and Martha Robertson  raising money, but still in hiding (#NY23).

Also, does everyone remember the last time Robertson visited Cornell campus? Read more here: Martha dodges my questions about fundraising.

Media coverage of Martha Robertson's fat shaming ads against Congressman Tom Reed in the swing NY-23 district continues to grow. The ads, which deliberately use old photos of Reed when he was very heavy, have received coverage from national outlets such as Buzzfeed and national Fox News. In addition, local WETN and Capital Tonight News, have covered the story. Now WENY is on the case:

It never ceases to amaze me how some politicians insist on digging when they are in a hole, rather than simply saying "Sorry". Democratic challenger Martha Robertson in my home district of NY-23 showed that quality last fall through the spring, when she refused to apologize for sending a fundraising email falsely claiming that GOP operatives tried to take down her website.  Legal Insurrection broke that story. First, she insisted it was true and even promised to hire a forensic computer firm to prove it, then went silent on the issue and became evasive when questioned, then admitted she never hired the forensic firm. It would have been so much easier, and would have put the issue to rest, if she just said it was a mistake, she's sorry, and offered to return any funds raised based on that false solicitation. Instead, the fundraising scandal still festers. We're seeing it again as to a series of fat shaming ads run by Robertson's campaign, using old photos of Republican incumbent Tom Reed before he had gastric bypass surgery. In some cases, Robertson seems to have gone out of her way to find photos that make Reed look as fat as possible: Martha Robertson Video Tom Reed Come Clean 3 (Here's what Tom Reed actually looks like, if you are interested.) Legal Insurrection first called attention to the use of these old photos, and demonstrated that it was not a one-off problem, but part of a bizarre fixation on Reed's weight throughout Robertson's media campaign. The story was picked up by a variety of media, including Buzzfeed, national Fox News, local WETM TV, and local print news. This is not the type of press any candidate wants. Robertson's reaction? To laugh at it. Now she's laughing at the fat shaming again.

None of the political analysts gives Dem challenger Martha Robertson much of a chance of defeating incumbent Tom Reed, although given all the money flowing to her from national Dems, I don't count her out. That said, she has run a pretty bizarre campaign, including the "fat shaming" tactic used on Reed, covered by local and national media, the most recent being Fox News: Robertson recently received a, ahem, major endorsement.  Bowzer from 1970's group Sha Na Na. A local Fox News affiliate reports:
If you're a fan of doo wop then you probably know all about the popular seventies band Sha Na Na. Tonight the band's infamous "Bowzer" was in Owego to show his support for Congressional Candidate Martha Robertson. As the candidate for District 23, Robertson is fighting for the rights of seniors in the Southern Tier. "Bowzer" spoke about the importance of senior benefits and of course played a little bit of music.
There's no embed code for the video, but you can watch it here. The Featured Image shows Robertson and Bowzer on stage with Robertson and a handful of supporters (staffers?): Here's the crowd gathered for this major endorsement. Robertson and the same handful of people:

Martha Robertson is the Democratic challenger to Republican Tom Reed in the key NY-23 swing congressional district in upstate New York. Robertson is a "Red-to-Blue" DCCC designee, meaning that they rate her as one of the top prospects to flip a Republican seat. But the campaign has not been going well for her, with all independent analysts giving her little hope of winning. Her campaign also has been plagued by a fundraising scandal, and questions about her strong support for single-payer healthcare. But there is a new scandal brewing for Robertson, one first exposed here at Legal Insurrection: Robertson's campaign repeatedly and prominently uses old photos of Reed showing Reed to be very heavy, and emphasizing photo angles making him look obese. Those old photos, however, no longer represent what Reed looks like, since he had gastric bypass surgery in early 2013. Here's just one of many examples of how the Robertson campaign focuses on Reed's prior weight problems: Martha Robertson Video Tom Reed Come Clean 3 That's doesn't look anything like Tom Reed looks now, and makes him look heavier even than many other pre-surgery photos. Now the issue of "Fat Shaming" has broken into the mainstream upstate and national media.  Local station WETM reports:

I posted the other day how top-tier Democratic challenger Martha Robertson was using old photos of incumbent Republican Tom Reed, showing him to be very overweight, even though he now is thin after gastric bypass surgery in early 2013. The image of the overweight Reed was featured prominently in Robertson's first television ad, which she just rolled out. Martha Robertson Ad Himself Fat Tom Reed Was Robertson playing the "fat card" on Reed, as I suspected? I tweeted to the Robertson Twitter account twice for a response, but nothing. Even though I knew it was futile since they haven't returned my emails in several months, I also emailed the campaign:
Can you explain why the campaign is using a 2011 photo of Tom Reed, showing him to be very overweight, in its TV Ad and on Twitter?
But no response. It wasn't just the current TV ad where Robertson uses images of the overweight Reed. She has tweeted out the image: Martha Robertson Twitter Tom Feed Fat Photo August 5 And featured similar images on her campaign website homepage: