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NY-23 2014 Tag

Tom Reed used to be heavy. Very heavy. Then he had gastric bypass surgery in February 2013, and now he's quite lean: Tom Reed Buffalo News Gastric Bypass 2013 It's not hard to find photos of the thin Tom Reed: Tom Reed Floor of Congress Taxes Reed is being challenged by Martha Robertson, whose campaign is in deep trouble as reported by every independent analyst, even though Robertson is the recipient of DCCC and out of state money, including a fundraising visit by Nancy Pelosi. When candidates are in trouble, they do desperate things. Robertson's campaign is playing the fat card on Reed, using a photo of him that portrays him as his former fat self.  [See featured image] The photo is from 2011:

Recently the Cook Political Report moved my home district NY-23 from Lean Republican to Likely Republican, leading us to ask, Is “Red-to-Blue” Dem challenger Martha Robertson knocked out? More evidence of Robertson's problems comes from The Washington Post's Election Lab / Monkey Cage blog, which gives Robertson just a 2% chance of winning: NY-23 WaPo Election lab ao 8-7-2014 I know, I know, it ain't over until it's over. But the question remains, for how long will national money keep pouring in to help a Democratic challenger in a Republican-majority district who has so little chance of winning based on the evaluation of every single independent election analyst?. (Hover over the district in the link to see all analyst ratings.) NY 23 Election Rating Map Capital ao Aug 6 2014 Also, there's a wider national significance.

I know, don't count your chickens. But ... I've been following the moribund and hapless campaign of Martha Robertson in my home NY-23 District since last September, when I exposed a false fundraising solicitation that GOP operatives were caught trying to take down the Robertson website. In what would become a precursor to a bizarre hide-the-candidate strategy, the Robertson campaign had shifting explanations and made promises, such as hiring a forensic expert, it did not keep. The campaign could have put the issue to rest early by simply admitting it made a mistake and offering to return donations made in reliance on the false claim, but it didn't, so the issue has lingered. Robertson's inability to admit her own weaknesses set the tone early, as Robertson's campaign went into shut-down mode on issues such has her strong support for single payer -- yeah, we found that gem video too -- and the use of Obamacare as just the first step. Martha Robertson We Need Single Payer 2009 With the exception of the City of Ithaca, the mostly rural, Republican-leaning district is not keen on getting government more involved in our lives. So a liberal Democrat like Robertson was going to have an uphill battle, and would need a solid campaign to avoid being stigmatized as just another out-of-touch Ithaca liberal. How liberal is Ithaca? When I moved here in 2008, these could have been the directions I gave people to my house:
To live in Ithaca is to live in a city alive with anti-Bush, anti-war protest. I often joke that the directions to my house in Ithaca read as follows: Take a right at the fifth Obama sign, a left at the third "Impeach Bush" placard, bear right at the "Support Our Troops, End the War" poster, and we are the house just after the "There's a Village in Texas Missing its Idiot" banner.

Recent fundraising filings show that Democrat challenger Martha Robertson has raised a fair amount of money in her challenge to incumbent Tom Reed in my home district NY-23. Robertson is a DCCC "red to blue" designee, so it's not surprising that money is flowing to her. But Robertson is not spending much -- which is consistent with what I've noticed, that she's all but non-existent in the media and the campaign trail. And she's still ducking the media, as noted by the host in the local radio interview I did the other day:
"We cannot get Martha Robertson to come on any, I want to underline that, any of our programs or to react to any charges made against her." This is consistent with a pattern we have seen before, Martha Robertson’s hiding act becomes campaign issue in #NY23. When I tried to ask her questions at a public forum at Cornell, she was evasive and her handlers tried to shut me down. Laying low may not be helping Robertson. The Buffalo News reports that Robertson's campaign fundraising strength may not reflect actual competitiveness:

Martha Robertson is the Emily's List-backed, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) "Red to Blue" Democratic challenger in NY-23, my home district. The "red-to-blue" designation means she's considered at the top tier of Democratic candidates who might flip a current Republican seat. So she will be showered with national money. We have been following the race closely, and have exposed a number of issues that have helped frame the narrative of the race, including Robertson's false fundraising claim that GOP operatives hacked her website during a critical fundraising period, her support for Obamacare as a pathway to single payer, and her misunderstanding of the Veteran's administrative crisis. In an attempt to gain some momentum, Robertson held a press conference today to announce her challenge to Reed on several issues revolving around congressional perks. This was her statement at the press conference, as reported by the Elmira Star-Gazette:

Martha Robertson is the Emily's List-backed, DCCC "Red to Blue" Democratic challenger in NY-23, my home district. We have been following the race closely, and have exposed a number of issues that have helped frame the narrative of the race, including Robertson's false fundraising claim that GOP operatives hacked her website during a critical fundraising period, her support for Obamacare as a pathway to single payer, and her misunderstanding of the Veteran's administrative crisis. Last night I saw an ad run by Congressman Tom Reed attacking Robertson as "out of this world" -- focusing on her being an Ithaca liberal, with the subtext that she's out of touch with the Republican-leaning, mostly rural district. I have not been able to get the video of the ad itself (if I do I'll post it), but a local television fact check contains excerpts. (Update - here is the ad - Featured Image updated) The fact check terms the ad overall to be "mostly true." I agree with that, except that I believe some of the individual items that are rated "half-true" should have received a higher rating. Here's the fact check video:

I've covered many campaigns over the past several years here at Legal Insurrection. The campaign of Martha Robertson, challenging incumbent Republican Tom Reed, is one of the most bizarre so far. They are completely non-responsive. Even when I write to them or call seeking a statement so I can present their side of a story, there's silence. Even before I exposed problems with the campaign's communications and positions, they were non-responsive. It's just plain weird. Robertson also is hard to find on the campaign trail. If not for her stop at Cornell, I don't think I ever would have been able to get any response from her or her campaign on the issue of the campaign's false claim that GOP operatives hacked her website during a key fundraising period. Even then, her response was non-responsive. Maybe it's me? Maybe I've offended them by asking questions and trying to find out the campaign's position on important issues, like her support for Obamacare as a stepping stone to single payer and her complete misunderstanding of the Veterans Administration scandal. No, it's not just me, as this campaign ad just released by Congressman Tom Reed demonstrates: Reed's campaign issued the following statement, via Communications Director Kathering Pudwill:

Martha Robertson, the Emily's List-backed, DCCC "red to blue" challenger to Republican Tom Reed in NY-23, is a big supporter of single payer healthcare, although she's dodged the issue during her campaign. Robertson has stated openly prior to running that she see's Obamacare as a stepping stone to single payer:
"We'll get to single payer soon, but in the meantime, [Obamacare] is what we need to do."
The Veterans Administration scandal poses a problem for Robertson, as it raises fears of what healthcare will be like if the government gains total control. Robertson appeared recently with Nancy Pelosi, and was interviewed on local television. Robertson blamed the VA scandal on what she called decades of underfunding (emphasis added):
“And we see it’s not a matter of the care that they get once they get access to the care,” said Robertson. “There’s no question that they’re getting quality care and responsive care once they’re in the system. This is a problem of decades of underfunding the system altogether.”
Robertson could not be more wrong. The VA's problems are systemic, inherent to government bureaucracy running healthcare, not funding. According to a recent budget submission for fiscal year 2015, VA funding has increased dramatically year-over-year:

Democrat Martha Robertson, the Emily's List-backed, "Red to Blue" challenger in NY-23 just can't seem to escape local news coverage of her apparently false fundraising claim that GOP operatives were "caught" trying to take down her website during a critical fundraising period.

Martha Robertson fundraising email partial

Legal Insurrection broke the story in early October 2013, and we have followed the details since then: The latest bad publicity for Robertson regards her response to a complaint filed with the NY State Board of Elections, as reported by WETM:
The controversy over an e-mail sent by Martha Roberton’s campaign to supporters last September continues. Now, the National Republican Congressional Committee is getting involved. The NRCC is asking the Martha Robertson campaign to release all correspondence related to the e-mail her campaign sent to supporters on September 30th, 2013. The NRCC is looking for correspondence that is not protected by attorney-client privilege. In that September e-mail, the Robertson campaign claimed that “GOP ops” had hacked their website right before the end of the third quarter fundraising deadline. The Robertson campaign provided proof of their hacking claims in October of 2013, but decided not to hire an outside firm to investigate, despite previously saying they would.
In a letter sent by the Robertson campaign to the NY State Board of Elections, Robertson repeats her claim that there were attacks on the website but no longer claims that it has any proof whatsoever that the GOP was involved, much less that GOP operatives were "caught" (emphasis added):

Martha Robertson is the Emily's List-backed, "Red to Blue" designated challenger to Republican Tom Reed in my home NY-23 District. She is a Democratic star candidate, and money is pouring into the somewhat competitive District at a furious pace. But is Robertson just another Alex Sink? Someone destined to break Democrats' hearts because, in Robertson's case, she is just too left-wing for the centrist, Republican-leaning district? We have covered the race extensively, including Robertson's misleading (if not outright false) fundraising claim that GOP operatives tried to take down her website, her strong support for Obamacare as a stepping stone to single payer, and questionable history with regard to rejecting the unpopular NY SAFE Act. In a region starving for jobs and losing our young people, Robertson has staked her candidacy on preventing the fracking job boom which has added over a quarter million jobs in Pennsylvania, which borders the NY-23 District. Heaven forbid the struggling Southern Tier of NY State should get to participate in that. The Reed campaign recently posted a video that sums up the Robertson agenda:
"In my heart of hearts, the very most important issue is climate change."
) If so, Robertson is almost alone in that sentiment. This Pew Research chart lists the priorities of the electorate as of late January 2014 -- be sure to scroll really, really far down so you can find "Dealing with Global Warming":
"The American public routinely ranks dealing with global warming low on its list of priorities for the president and Congress. This year, it ranked second to last among 20 issues tested."

Martha Robertson's fundraising cloud just won't go away in her challenge to Republican Tom Reed in NY-23. Robertson raised funds based on the claim that GOP operatives were caught trying to take down her website during a critical fundraising period. She never has come forward with any proof, and broke her promise to hire a forensic computing investigator to find the evidence. The local media is becoming increasingly frustrated with Robertson's dodging the issue, as we mentioned yesterday. Today Robertson was named to the prestigious "Red to Blue" list by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as reported in the Buffalo News:
Martha Robertson, the Democrat who's challenging Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, this fall, got a big boost Monday when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named her to its "Red to Blue" program -- signaling that she's one of the top Democratic House challengers in the country. The Democratic campaign committee selects challengers for the Red to Blue program when they've shown strong ability to raise funds, build a campaign and present a credible alternative to voters.
Martha Robertson Red To Blue Tweet 3-3-2014

In early October, 2013, Legal Insurrection broke the story of a claim by Martha Robertson, the Emily's List-backed Democratic challenger in NY-23, that GOP operatives were caught trying to take down her website during a crucial fundraising period last fall. The District is a key priority for both parties, and money is pouring in from around the country. The District leans Republican, but Democrats are hopeful they can pull a rabbit out of a hat here because of the large liberal vote in the Ithaca area. It's a Wendy Davis strategy -- get out the base in the liberal areas, and hope others stay home. Robertson never has provided any evidence of such hacking, but promised to hire a forensic computer expert to provide the proof. Then Robertson broke that promise, and said she would not be hiring an expert. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air had a write up on Robertson's fundraising problem,Could NY-23 Dem candiate have (gasp) lied about GOP cyberattack? The claim of GOP hacking appears to have been false. The type of disruption her campaign described was the type of routine server issue almost every website experiences, and there is no evidence of any actual disruption. Rather than come clean, admit the error, and offer to refund donations to people who received the false solicitation, the Robertson campaign is in shutdown mode on the issue. They have not returned my inquiries for months, and now are dodging the major local media outlets. When the local Republican Party filed an election complaint recently, the Robertson campaign still refused media inquiries.

NY-23, my home district, is a focus for both parties for 2014 because it is one of only a few competitive districts. The district is geographically enormous, a mostly rural area running along the Southern Tier of upstate New York. Once you leave Ithaca, it's a whole other country. Which is why incumbent Republican Tom Reed should be okay by a few percentage points. 2nd Amendment rights, and opposition to the NY SAFE Act, are big issues. Tompkins County, which includes Ithaca, is the exception. Tompkins County is one of only two upstate counties which has not passed a Resolution opposing the SAFE Act. County Opposition to SAFE Act ao January 2014 Guess who was the Democratic Chair of the Tompkins County legislature: Martha Robertson, the Emily's List-backed challenger to Reed. The SAFE Act is in play in the race because of Robertson's confusing voting record, where she appears to have both voted for and against the SAFE Act. WETM 18 reports: