Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sweeney's Loosing Support, 13% so far

Thoughts on the latest poll:

Sweeney's got around 53% saying they'd vote for him if the election were today. I don't know if those polled are are likely voters or just voters [update, I heard that the poll asked anyone who answered the phone so it might not even be limited to those registered to vote]. I do know this is an election that is still 2 1/2 months away, in a district that John "Do-over" Sweeney won with 66% of the vote in 2004.

Since the last published poll, Gillibrand has gotten her name recognition up, and her campaign is in full swing.

Sweeney's trajectory is on the down-slide and Gillibrand's is on the rise.

Voters decide elections not polls.

What the poll shows is that voters are jumping off Sweeney's 381 Meridian (that's a ship, a very expensive one in case you didn't read about it already). This is a winnable district for Kirsten Gillibrand.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sweeney At the Helm

Photo of John Sweeney on the $500 in-kind contribution he got from the National Marine Manufactuer's Association PAC. The $500 covered Sweeney's use of a NMMA-member yacht (381 Meridian Yacht) for a fundraiser. What a deal, do you think you or I could rent that $400,000+ puppy (with food!) for a measly $500?

The NMMA PAC 108th Congressional Report tells all:

Yacht Fundraisers-Providing Lawmakers with a Unique and Fun Experience

Each summer an NMMA member donates the use of a new yacht. NMMA uses the yacht to host cruises on the Potomac River for Members of Congress and their staffs. These cruises are an excellent tool to expose decision-makers to boating and help our government relations staff develop relationships with key policy makers. NMMA PAC also uses the yacht to host fundraisers for Members of Congress. Fundraisers in Washington tend to be carbon copies of the same old reception format, but NMMA PAC can offer lawmakers a chance to have a unique and fun event. Every lawmaker and guest NMMA PAC hosted enjoyed the cruise, leading to these events becoming extremely popular in Washington.

Sweeney, Sue Kelley, and Tom Reynolds are the only NY Reps that NMMA PAC hosted a fundraiser for aboard the 381 Meridian Yacht.

Read how Sweeney rewards this special interest donor and sells out taxpayers after his fun in the sun and cash in hand. Sweeney shamelessly used the anniversary of a boating accident on Lake George to promote his special interest give away.

Sweeney's Red Handed Again

Sweeney's way of doing things:

donations = favors (expensive ones that the people of this district can't afford)

a new story up at Room8, go read it right now.

The Cliff-notes version: Robin and William Hubbard have given Sweeney's campaign $4,200 to date.

Now their foundation has earmarks totaling $1,400,000 in the pending HHS appropriations bill.

This isn't the first time Sweeney's been caught red-handed doling out pay to play favors:

More Good News for Gillibrand and Dems

I suppose this explains why Sweeney is in panic mode lately...

New Print Edition: House Outlook for 2006

House Outlook For 2006

By Stuart Rothenberg

Our latest race-by-race review of Congressional districts around the country convinces us that a Democratic wave is building and that the party is poised to take control of the House of Representatives in the fall. The only question now is the size of the November wave. The national mood remains bleak for Republicans. President George W. Bush’s job performance ratings are terrible, and the public still gives Congress low marks. A majority of Americans continue to tell pollsters that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That’s a recipe for a GOP disaster, and there is no reason to believe that things will change dramatically between now and Election Day to improve Republican prospects.

At the district level, voters are more critical of Republican incumbents – and supportive of even unknown Democratic candidates – than they usually are at this point in the election cycle. GOP candidates are running behind where they would be in anything approaching a “neutral” year. While some firming of the Republican base is likely over the next ten weeks, that alone may not be enough for the party to retain the House.

Strong fund raising by the DCCC should mean that some Democratic candidates won’t face the huge financial discrepancy that they have in the past, though RNC money should boost the Republican ground game nationally. To hold the House, Republicans must retain at least a handful of districts that now appear likely to go Democratic, probably by discrediting Democratic challengers and open seat hopefuls. Unlike previous cycles, when the burden was on Democrats to create upsets, the onus is now on the GOP to save at least a handful of seats before Election Day. Therefore, we are raising our estimate of likely Democratic gains \nfrom 8-12 seats to 15-20 seats, which would translate to between 218 and 223 \nseats – and a majority – in the next House.

The Fair Day

Tom Curry of MSNBC did report on his day out with Kirsten Gillibrand at the fair:

In once-safe GOP seat, a serious race emerges In a rural New York district, Iraq, fuel prices and gun control at issue

It is a good story, except he counted the "18,000 independents" and left out the blank/no party voters we have in NY. (Indies, Blanks and Dems together outnumber Republicans in the district, but it doesn't seem like that when you see Curry's numbers).

The story confirms that Sweeney seems:

...a little worried. In part, that may be due to his loyalty to the White House. Sweeney voted with Bush 82 percent of the time on roll call votes in 2005, according to the Congressional Quarterly.

When Sweeney was on CSPAN pretending to be mad at Bush's Homeland Security Appointee, a caller cited those Bush supporting numbers and Sweeney dismissed the call and said these numbers were "made up."

Later in the story Sweeney defends his pro-pork record in spite of the war and debts we face saying, "Earmarks are one percent of the federal budget..."

Just one percent of the $2.8 trillion we're spending? (I'm not sure if that includes the wars.) A pittance to John Sweeney.

And that figure doesn't take into account the recent news that our actual deficit is not the $318 billion we were told per Bush's Ken Lay style accounting, but in reality is over $3 trillion.

Looks like Sweeney is as clueless as Bush when it comes to the budget.

Swing State on Sweeney

Obey the Swing State Project's Post in response to Sweeney's Latest Campaign Stunt.

My thoughts: WOW! Sweeney's gone from a so called Kickass to real life Crybaby. (That's because like all bullies, he's mostly hurting on the inside. There, there, these things happen.)

Bonus: all the cash he'll be spending on his lawyer can only help Gillibrand: she didn't pay for these ads, she doesn't have to pay to defend them (which is pretty easy you just go here and click on "facts". Warning this may be impossible to do if you are Sweeney-GOPper, but try, let the healing start now.) She's not wasted her resources trying to sue any of the people who publish and distribute Sweeney's rubbish. Another dumbo move on Sweeney's part.

Friday, August 25, 2006

ROTFLMAO

From The Capitol Confidential:
"U.S. Rep. John Sweeney has gotten one of the region’s best known lawyers to ask TV stations to pull a brutal MoveOn.Org ad against the congressman."

Well, it's not brutal. It's just plain honest.

There was one especially good comment on the Capitol Confidential, too.

I used to think that Sweeney was just a steak-faced goon -kinda smarmy and idiotic. But now, he’s acting like a pathetic wimp. “Oh, no, the mean people said something bad about me.” It’s pathetic. If you got nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to defend.

As Andrew C. White might say, ‘the lady doth protest too much methinks.’

The fact is he’s got a paper trail of wheeling and dealing with convicted corrupt Republicans like Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham. No, these are not the values and character of upstate New York.

It’s as simple as this: The GOP controls every branch of gov’t. If you think everything in Iraq and here in America is honky-dory, then vote for the Republicans who brought all of this on us.

If not, then vote for a system of checks and balances. Send a respectable Dem to Congress, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand - this is the only way to start changing course.

I had only seen the dumptruck ad, originally. But there is another, even better ad:

So, they simply point out that he's getting money from defense contractors, and that he avoids voting to censure them. Both readily verifiable. This is exactly what the public discourse is supposed to point out.

But you just let the good times roll, Rep. whiney baby. I'm sure glad you think you're good enough to represent us in Washington. Just seems you're more interested in representing your lobbyist pals.

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Recent News and Views on the Race

  • Sweeney wants TV stations to pull the Moveon Ads claiming that they contain "factual errors". Funny how Sweeney's ad against Gillibrand have all contained factual errors and how Moveon has a fact sheet up on their website. Someone call the Waaaaam-bulance. How long do we think it will take the Post Star to use this Moveon Ad to claim that Gillibrand's campaign is being negative again? The PS did cover the Moveon Ads with some coverage of Gillibrand's Iraq Policy today, go here for the story.
  • Once again the Sweeney campaign is telling us that ethics violations just don't matter. He held a political event on public property at a workplace in spite of:

...the city ethics code that states: "Officers or employees shall not make use of a city workplace to request ... that any officer or employee participate in an election campaign (or) political event or contribute to a political party or committee." ... (source)

As part of an occasional series from MSNBC.com's roving Tom Curry... How can an incumbent who won with 66% two years ago be in jeopardy today, he asks. Drive through the Albany area on your way to the Saratoga Springs racetrack and you'll notice that Rep. John Sweeney (R) is working overtime to remind the 20th district how indispensable he is. His radio ads are hard to miss: an elderly lady saying that Sweeney got $118,000 in federal money (earmarks!) to buy two buses for the senior citizens' community where she lives. "Effective and independent, he works for us," the narrator chimes in.

Independent? Per its vote ratings for 2005, CQ says Sweeney voted with Bush 82% of the time on roll call votes, Curry says. They parted ways on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages and on increased funding of embryonic stem cell research.

As for the $118,000 for the buses, Sweeney says, "Earmarks are one percent of the federal budget, so the buzz coming from the Jeff Flakes on my side of the aisle, and from some demagogic Democrats is just false. Federal spending is out of control because of mandatory spending" and due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said. He calls his earmarks "not pork in my mind; it is necessary requisite spending."

Sweeney is trying to fight off well-funded Democratic lawyer Kirsten Gillibrand. Albany-born and educated at UCLA Law School, she's the daughter of Albany lobbyist Douglas Rutnik and was a counsel to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo in the Clinton Administration. She'd raised $1.2 million in funds as of July 1, compared to Sweeney's $1.7 million.

Sweeney spent Wednesday walking through the Washington County fair; today, Gillibrand will do the same. Sweeney donned an apron and gloves to help the firemen from Argyle, NY grill racks of chicken. "I keep saying to people like Charlie Cook and the rest of them: show me the poll that says this race is what they say it is," Sweeney told Curry. As of last week, the Cook Political Report had this race rated as "lean Republican." Democrats, Sweeney contended, "can't make the plausible argument they can take back the majority without having races like mine and everybody else in the Northeast. That's the sales pitch Rahm Emanuel is giving to the nation. He's trying to create a buzz."

And psychological warfare is crucial, Curry notes: If Emanuel's committee convinces donors that incumbents like Sweeney are vulnerable, and that a wave is building, then maybe it really will build.

It's not buzz, the district is one we can win with the right candidate, which we have. Times are changing and Sweeney's nervous. At the Washington County Fair this week, people said they've seen and liked Gillibrand's ads when I asked if they knew about her yet, the name recognition issue is being taken care of. I predict that the next poll (Siena College is doing one now) is going to reflect that forward momentum. As we reported on the GOP hired poll, we think it does show Sweeney in trouble. See also Sweeney's Pro-pork Votes here.

Mr. Curry was at the fair yesterday as Gillibrand was walking the fairgrounds, introducing herself to voters and talking about the issues.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rep Whineass, do-over, whatever.

Now, let's get this straight. Sweeney spends beaucoup money lying about Kirsten's residence, & the press tells him to lay off, and talk about the issues.

Then, Moveon.org runs this ad:

The text goes like this:

VIDEO OPEN ON A CARAVAN OF DUMP TRUCKS DRIVING THROUGH THE DESERT; SUPER: “IRAQ”. THE LEAD TRUCK PULLS UP AND DUMPS A TON OF CASH – BAGS OF MONEY - ON TO THE GROUND. OVER IMAGES OF DUMPING MONEY, SUPER: “$300 BILLION”, THEN “$18 BILLION TO HALLIBURTON”. THEN, “$9 BILLION MISSING”.

AUDIO

ANNOUNCER (VO): What happened to the 300 billion dollars we sent to Iraq? Halliburton got 18 billion. 9 billion is just plain missing.

VIDEO

CUT TO BLACK & WHITE PHOTO OF REP. JOHN SWEENEY. A SPECIAL EFFECT DRAMATICALLY STAINS HIS HAND RED. SUPER: “REP. JOHN SWEENEY”. AUDIO

ANNOUNCER (VO): And our Congressman John Sweeney has been caught Red Handed, voting for all of it.

VIDEO

CUT BACK TO THE DESERT. ANOTHER TRUCK PULLS UP AND DUMPS MORE CASH. DOLLAR BILLS SWIRL AWAY IN THE DUST. THE PILE OF MONEY BAGS GROWS. PULL OUT TO REVEAL AN ENDLESS CARAVAN OF DUMP TRUCKS APPROACHING TO DUMP THEIR CASH.

AUDIO

ANNOUNCER (VO): That’s money we need for jobs and healthcare here in New York. Now John Sweeney is ready to dump billions more in Iraq.

VIDEO

CUT BACK TO PHOTO OF REP. SWEENEY WITH HAND STAINED RED. AT SCREEN BOTTOM, SUPER FULL MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION DISCLAIMER. AUDIO

ANNOUNCER (VO): John Sweeney: another Republican caught red-handed. With 3.2 million members, MoveOn.org Political Action is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

So that's it. They say, "hey, all this money is missing in Iraq, and John Sweeney voted for all this." Big Deal. That's just plain factually true. So, what does Rep whineass do? Well, here is their response:

"Sweeney's campaign called the MoveOn ads a 'smear campaign' and asked television stations on Wednesday to stop airing them. Maureen O'Brien Donovan, a campaign spokeswoman, said the claim that Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, was 'caught red-handed' incorrectly implies he had engaged in illegal activity. She said Sweeney had never voted specifically to authorize defense contracts with Halliburton, but had supported ongoing funding for the war and reconstruction, just as a majority of House Democrats had."
Sweeney is a total rubberstamp for Bush. So live up to it & don't play that "they did it too" crap. It's not appealing in a ten year old, much less a member of congress.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The First Caught Red Handed Ad

Upcoming with Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand will be at the Washington County Democratic Committee's Booth at the Washington County Fair on Thursday August 24th from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. The booth is in Commercial Building One. Come and meet her and share your ideas with her or learn more about her vision for the district.

And on Friday, the 25th, The New York League of Conservation Voters is endorsing her campaign for congress. Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn, County Supervisor for Saratoga Springs Joanne Yepsen, County Supervisor for Saratoga Springs Cheryl Keyrouze, Hon. Larry & Vicki Bulman will all be at the fundraising event. For more information, go here.

PS What Are You Thinking?

Thumbs Down to the Post Star for repeatedly (twice this month alone link, link) claiming that our candidate doesn't talk about issues in the election and for then not covering her press conferences focused on the issues. Today's paper has no coverage at all on Gillibrand's Iraq Press Conference. Is it fair to ignore the issues she covers and then to tell people that her campaign is negative and not about the issues? (They are citing silly t-shirts being sold by someone, not by the campaign, at cafepress as proof of Gillibrand's "negativity" in the race! Ha!) I don't think so.

But I'm sure when Sweeney's campaign issues its next absurd press release or ad about:

  • Kirsten's mortgage papers,
  • What zip code her donations are from,
  • Kirsten's company like many other companies which has corporate clients,
  • Her Brother's Gas Station,
  • Her Father's Job,
  • Boo-hooo, that guy from Florida is filming my public events again! Please make him stop looking at me.

that they will be right there with this "news."

Kirsten Gillibrand on Iraq

Gillibrand supports timeline for exit from Iraq Sweeney rejects challenger's call to instill "sense of urgency" on Iraq's government

By TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writer First published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 In The Times Union (link)

ALBANY -- Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand called Tuesday for the United States to set a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

...Challenged by Gillibrand to debate the war, Sweeney repeated his stance that he would wait to debate his opponent until after Labor Day.

Responding to President Bush's comments Monday that U.S. troops would not exit Iraq as long as he is president, Gillibrand said he was wrong and ought to set a timeline of six to 12 months to withdraw.

"We need a new direction in Iraq," she said. "John Sweeney supports President Bush's failed approach. We need a congressional leader who will no longer be a rubber stamp for the administration." ...

At a news conference outside the state Democratic Committee headquarters in Albany, Gillibrand outlined the steps she said need to be taken before troops withdraw.

"We should have a congressional resolution that says we will not have permanent bases in Iraq and we will not have a claim on Iraqi oil," she said.

The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds all need to be given a share in revenues and jobs from reconstruction work and oil sales, she said: "It gives them a stake in peace."

Gillibrand balked at the description of setting a timeline as "cutting and running."

"My greatest concern is how we undermine terrorism," she said. Money now being used in Iraq should instead be committed to port security and other initiatives to battle terrorism, she said....

"I was critical of some of the decisions made," Sweeney said, adding there were insufficient troops at the war's outset. "Out of the 18 provinces in Iraq, 14 of them now have relative peace and some prosperity. Four provinces are real trouble spots. One of the questions I have is should we be committing more forces in those four provinces?"

Sweeney added that special forces, rather than regular Army troops which are larger in number, should be assigned to those provinces.

"We've made many, many mistakes. In all wars, that happens, but we need to be successful," he said. "If we're not successful, I fear for our children's future. I don't know any wars in which any nation has been successful and said, 'We're only here to X date.' "

But Sweeney said Shiite and Sunni leaders could be warned that if they do not gain control then partitioning the nation could be a solution.

"I certainly don't believe we need to give them the impression we're going to be there forever," he said.

Without setting a definitive timeline for an exit, Gillibrand argued, the United States is giving Iraqis no reason to take charge.

"It's not a defined enough time frame to develop a real sense of urgency," she said.

Sweeney fears for our children's future? What about the people who's children he wants to send to Iraq and their future? As long as we are in Iraq, people there are going to fight us. Sweeney said in the story that we have to think about what Iraq will be like when we are gone, what about how it is right now? Last month had the highest Iraqi civilian death toll, doesn't he realize that developments like that are not good for Iraq nor are they good for America? Sweeney is not offering any plans to change course, and if you don't make changes in the direction you are going, you will wind up where you are headed. Sweeney sounds a lot like Rumsfeld when he claims that most places in Iraq are peaceful and prosperous, more on the Rumsfeld Rosey Picture Mindset is available here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rudy and Sweeney wearing Rose Colored Glasses

The Times Union reports on Giulani's fundraising/PR stunt with John Sweeney. Sweeney's comments and commitment to supporting Bush's More of the Same in Iraq demonstrate how out of touch Sweeney is with the realities.

...He [Giulani] applauded President Bush's declaration Monday that troops will remain in Iraq to "finish the job," calling him "a determined leader who is absolutely right to say the troops will be there until we achieve our objective."

Sweeney called those seeking an immediate withdrawal from Iraq "obtuse." He acknowledged "mistakes certainly have happened" in Iraq. "That doesn't mean, though, that you ought to give up on the commitment to bring stability to the region," he added.

"We cannot have Iraq in a destabilized place that can turn into Afghanistan II," Sweeney said. ...(source)

Iraq is a not a stable place now. How many years or decades does John Sweeney want to spend finding out that we cannot create a stable nation in Iraq? The Iraqis have to create a stable nation there. The situation there is worse than in Afghanistan, though the national media refuses to utter this: the Iraqis seem to be fighting a civil war at this point. Ironically, the fear of a civil war was the reason why Bush's father didn't topple Saddam in Dessert Storm. What role can our troops play in a civil war?

For the record, Kirsten Gillibrand isn't calling for an immediate withdrawal, here is her most recent Iraq statement, which is in stark contrast to Sweeney's Ostrich Outlook.

Another thing Sweeney's wrong about, in spite of his claims below: Al Quaeda's attempts to attack Western targets, including the recent London plot demonstrate that fighting people in Iraq doesn't stop Osoma Bin Laden from plotting against us in his cave.

From the Post Star:

...Outside, protesters criticized Sweeney mostly for supporting President George Bush and the Iraq war, which was an "oil war," they said.

"I protested the Vietnam War because my cousin was killed in '68 and I haven't been back to the streets since ... until now," said Bill Baker of Sand Lake.

Joe Seeman, an organizer of the rally, called the luncheon "legalized bribery" in an effort to continue proliferating the war so large companies can land big defense contracts.

Baker yelled to Giuliani, "Why Rudy, why?" when he arrived at the luncheon.

Giuliani later said outside the fire station that U.S. troops need to stay in Iraq in order to win the war on terror.

"The troops should remain in Iraq until we accomplish our mission by helping to create a stable and accountable government," he said. "That is why we are there. That objective is critical to winning the war on terrorism."

Giuliani added, "George Bush is going to finish what he started."

Sweeney echoed those remarks.

"Mistakes happen in wars; they certainly happened here. I was acknowledging that in October '03," Sweeney said. "That doesn't mean though that you ought to give up on your commitment to try and bring stability to the region and try and make America safer by being on offense rather than waiting to be attacked."

Gillibrand, Sweeney's Democratic opponent. issued a press release Monday reiterating her position the United States should a deadline of six, nine or 12 months to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq.

In the meantime, Gillibrand said in a telephone interview that stability can be achieved in Iraq by using Iraqi companies, instead of U.S. companies, to do reconstruction work, with reconstruction contracts divided among thee main factions.

A stronger Iraq economy will reduce the chances of continued conflict, she said. (source by subscription)

Being on the offensive rather than waiting to be attacked? We are being attacked in Iraq on a daily basis. The deaths of our soldiers don't count according to John Sweeney? The number of Iraqi deaths occurring in this war are also a huge problem creating more anger toward our nation, providing recruiting opportunities for terrorists.

...Now in its fourth year, the war has taken a toll — more than 2,600 Americans have died and many more Iraqis have been killed. Last month alone, about 3,500 Iraqis died violently, the highest monthly civilian toll so far... (source)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bush vows not to leave Iraq, Kirsten Calls for New Direction

Check out Kirtsen Gillibrand's press release A New Direction in Iraq is Needed on The Hill Blog "Where lawmakers come to blog."

John Sweeney is far too busy trying to decide how to convince us that Kirsten doesn't live here and/or doesn't know how much beer costs and/or (his latest from his campaign's mail bag o' lies) that she is going to let aliens take over the 20th (Before you ask me: Are you referring to immigrants or little green men? I ask you: Is there any difference to John Sweeney?) to have issued any statements at all on Iraq.

Though to be fair, I will point out that his staff does take the time to pen letters that repeat whatever Bush says about the war to anyone who questions Sweeney on it. And to be fair to Bush, he has figured out that "War is not a time of joy." Gee, that might be just one reason why it is was stupid idea, Mr. Decider, to pull out UN Weapons inspectors and send our troops in their place.

Balancing Act

The Post Star is weighing in on the race again, this time it is in a story about the negativity of the 20th race. Is it just me or are they stepping on the scale again when they judge Kirsten Gillibrand?

The negativity in this race has been by John Sweeney. A college newspaper first reported that Sweeney was a a frat party, not the Gillibrand campaign. When asked to comment on the incident, Kirsten had no comment. Moveon is organizing a protest against Sweeney, not the Gillibrand campaign.

Once again, how is filming a public figure in public a negativity against John Sweeney? Gillibrand says it is a common practice and she's correct. None of the press articles about the volunteer filming Sen. George Allen in a VA race, claimed that the challenger was being negative. The story doesn't point out that Sweeney's people have also been attending and documenting Gillibrand at events or that Sweeney already used a photo of Gillibrand in a mailer taken by one of his campaign's volunteers doing the exact same thing! Gillibrand never whined to the media about being "stalked" when this happened.

In the Post Star's side bar on the story (by subscription), they list the negativity in the race. Here is an example:

-- July 2006 -- Sweeney's campaign mailed out a full-color glossy brochure depicting a Manhattan high-rise building on the cover.

The brochure stated, "This is 1755 York Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan ... and to Kirsten Gillibrand it's home."

Gillibrand and her husband did once live at that address, but they purchased a home in Hudson in 2003, and moved to the home full time in 2004.

The Gillibrand campaign countered by airing radio commercials stating Sweeney was misrepresenting her residency status.

Here is the reality:

First the GOP held a press event outside of Gillibrand's workplace launching these charges. Next the press reported them, and later refuted the charges.

Next, Sweeney sent out the mailer mentioned.

Next the Sweeney campaign issued a radio ad repeating the same tired disproven claims.

Finally Gillibrand defended herself in public with an ad countering the charges.

If Gillibrand never defends herself, people will assume the charges Sweeney makes are true. It is not fair to claim that Gillibrand defending herself against Sweeney falsehoods is negativity on her part.

Another item cited is the inquiry into Sweeney's Ski Weekend in Lake Placid. The Post Star picks up Sweeney's talking points that this is a Democratic led attack on him (isn't that what Tom DeLay tried to tell the press too?). The story doesn't tell you that Pataki has the state doing an audit of the event as well.

How is any of this an example of Gillibrand's campaign not being focused on the issues?

The story also completely ignores all of her policy events which have taking place in the same period that the story covers, such as her new energy plan, her plan to restore fiscal discipline in Congress, her support of GI Bill reform, her call for Middle Class Tax cuts.

The Moveon protest isn't about Sweeney's personality flaws or where he lives, it is about his record. It seems valid for citizens to stage a protest when people are unhappy with an incumbents voting record. According to the constitution this is still a protected right, right? The media attacking concerned citizens for protesting, what next, will the Post Star claim that we shouldn't have freedom of the press anymore?

When Saratoga GOP chairman showed up at the protest of Gillibrand's campaign announcement, it was clear that the Republican party if not Sweeney himself was involved in the protest. But none of the Sweeney protests have been organized by the Gillibrand campaign or by the local Democratic party.

The sad part is that the story goes on to state that a nasty race usually helps the incumbent. So we have to say, doesn't that seem to explain why Sweeney has been slinging mud? It is good for his campaign.

It is a shame that the Post Star failed to mention the many issues and plans that Gillibrand has released, and that it blamed Gillibrand for things that other groups have done, hopefully they will begin to see that Gillibrand's focus has been on the issues. Hopefully they won't claim she is being negative when she simply defends herself against false claims about non-issues stated repeatedly by the Sweeney campaign. Hopefully they will decide it isn't valid to report a story that the Sweeney campaign puts out about Gillibrand "stalking" when his campaign is doing the same thing as well.

Now that I've had my say, here's an excerpt of the story:

Local campaign is one of the nastiest in the nation

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is coming to Saratoga Springs today to support U.S. Rep. John Sweeney's re-election campaign, and not all of those who turn out to greet him will have glowing praise.

MoveOn.org, a liberal political action group, plans to stage a protest outside a $1,000-a-plate noon luncheon headlined by Giuliani and Sweeney at a private residence.

Protesters will be carrying giant Styrofoam red hands to illustrate Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, getting "caught red handed" making unacceptable votes in Congress, the group said in a press release.

The protest is an example of theatrics and attacks that have become common in the spirited race between Sweeney and his Democratic opponent Kirsten Gillibrand.

The tone of the race has become so negative one national political analyst suggested last week it may be one of the nastiest in the country.

"Is this the nastiest House race in the cycle?" asked Chuck Todd, in an article in National Journal, a nonpartisan political magazine. "It's certainly one of the top five dirtiest right now," Todd continued, answering his own question.

Todd, a contributing editor, ranked the local race No. 24 in the nation overall, up one position from his last ranking.

The local race has centered much more on personalities than others, Todd said in a telephone interview on Thursday evening.

"Most of the other campaigns are so dominated by the issues," he said.

Sweeney's negativity, Todd said, may be an attempt to counter criticism from Democrats after Sweeney attended a late-night fraternity party at Union College in April.

"Part of this is because of Sweeney," he said. ... (source, subscription required)

Just for fun

Go to Google, type in "John Sweeney for Congress" then hit, "I'm feeling lucky"

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Local MoveOn Members Plan Protest

John Sweeney "Caught Red-Handed" Voting To Cut Veterans’ Benefits, Even As He Sends Troops to War: with Red Foam Hands and "Caught Red-Handed" Signs, Local Citizens Plan To Confront Rep. over Hypocrisy on Veterans’ Issue

Saratoga Springs, NY - On Monday, August 21, residents of the 20th Congressional District of NY will be outside Rep. John Sweeney's fundraising event with red foam hands and signs to expose Rep. Sweeney as "caught red-handed" voting to cut $150 million from veteran's benefits while sending the troops to war.

"We’ve caught Rep. Sweeney red-handed voting to cut veterans benefits while sending our troops off to war. He talks like a typical politician when it comes to supporting our men and women in the military. But when it comes to our benefits, Rep. Sweeney has treated us like second-class citizens. Voters deserve better and our veterans deserve better" said Jack Jacknowitz of Saratoga Springs, a Korean War Veteran.

Who: MoveOn members and concerned citizens of NY’s 20th Congressional District

Where: Outside second home of Corporate Lobbyists Julie Chlopecki and David Fuscus 65 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

When: 11:30am, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006

What: Local residents expose Rep. Sweeney as caught red-handed cutting veteran's benefits while sending Troops to War for Oil.

For More, see the media advisory here

Julia Chlopecki and David Fuscus both have long lists of Republican giving at opensecrets. None of them show NY as the couple's home.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Isn't Sweeney the Exploiter Here?

How come when Sweeney lists the names of soldiers who have died on his campaign website no one thinks he is exploiting the troops?

See how the place to "Donate" is less than an inch from one of the listed names of fallen soldiers on Sweeney's website?

Isn't this odd since Sweeney attacked his opponent for an ad which her campaign didn't even produce that showed anonymous flag draped coffins. His press release said Kirsten Gillibrand was "exploiting dead soldiers."

I'm thinking of this now because Sweeney issued a press release when one of our local troops died in Iraq. Shouldn't Sweeney's offer of condolences to the family be more personal and less public?

Every time someone dies serving in the war a Republican incumbent gets free press coverage, maybe that's why Bush, Sweeney and the GOP support a perpetual war with no exit plan (unlike Gillibrand).

Read about Marine Capt. John J. McKenna IV (and John Sweeney) in today's Times Union.

A bizarre Comment from Our Representative in Congress

This is simply amazing:

Reps react to court decision declaring NSA eavesdropping unconstitutional

Washington , D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat from Westchester-Rockland, Thursday applauded the decision by a federal judge in Detroit to put an immediate halt to the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program, calling it unconstitutional.

‘This is finally justice for the American people,’ said Engel. ‘The Bush Administration has severely overstepped its Constitutional authority; FISA prohibits wiretapping within the United States without judicial authorization. The Bush Administration’s actions are a direct violation of the law and a gross misuse of the executive branch’s power that upsets the checks and balances which underpin our system of government.’

But, Republican Representative John Sweeney of Clifton Park said the decision is ‘a victory for international terrorism and a bitter defeat for American efforts to protect our homeland.’ He pointed to last Thursday’s news that British and American counter-terrorism teams had successfully thwarted an attempt blow up 10 planes bound for the United States. ‘We know that the U.K. was successful in infiltrating this attack by using their counter terrorism laws,’ he said.

Sweeney said in the war against terrorism ‘against a determined enemy willing to stop at nothing to kill innocent men, women and children, we must always be at least two steps ahead of the terrorists in order to prevent another attack on U.S. soil.'

Apparently, this is what "an independent voice for upstate" means. Pointing out that the terrorists have won when you say the preznit can't spy on Americans if he doesn't have a warrant.

A BITTER DEFEAT? WHAT PLANET DOES HE LIVE ON? A bitter defeat is the Somme, is evacuating Saigon from the roof of the Embassy. A bitter defeat is not making sure that a judge has rubber-stamped your wire-tap request. Sweeney is so obviously unaware of the workings of our government and our constitution that he ought to go away, just go away.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Recent News Rounds

Kirsten Gillibrand will be at the Delaware County Fair today in Walton see Delaware County Dems for more.

Also, her new TV ad has been mentioned by MSNBC under Security Politics, saying

A week ago, we wrote how Bush has become a key issue in the midterms, and how Democratic candidates across the country are using his image (negatively) in their ads. In upstate New York, Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is airing a new TV ad taking on Bush's foreign policy in her race against Rep. John Sweeney (R). The ad begins with Bush saying the United States is making progress in Iraq. "I respectfully disagree," Gillibrand replies. "I'm Kirsten Gillibrand, and I'll stand up to the President when he is wrong."

Here's good coverage of the Greene County Democratic Picnic where Hillary Clinton and Kirsten Gillibrand appeared together recently. Learn more about the endorsement Kirsten picked up here. Clinton said, "We have a great opportunity to send a young woman to congress who is going to help us make this difference and she can be part of a new Democratic majority.... Then we'll be able to get back to holding this president accountable."

The National Journal moved the 20th race up yesterday from 25th most competitive race to the 24th.

They ask "Is this the single nastiest House race of the cycle?

They answer themselves "It's certainly one of the top five dirtiest right now."

I answer "Of course Bush's lapdog and Rent a Riot Gooney Bird was going to come out swinging when he realized his posh job as our not-so-representative would be falling by the wayside so that "we, the people" could have a real voice in congress again." Good thing for us that all the sluggin' and thuggin' in the world won't stop Kirsten from fighting for what she believes in.

Another Sweeney Bush Connection

Sweeney's radio attack ad (you know, the one that repeats information which was proven false weeks ago) sure seems a lot like another presently unpopular GOP leader's tactics. You know the guy who ignores inconvenient facts that don't suit his personal skew of reality. (Hint initials are GWB).

Kirsten's radio piece in response to the attack ad is posted at the TU Blog:

ANNCR: “Have you heard Congressman John Sweeney trying to beat up on Kirsten Gillibrand? His attacks aren’t true. The Albany Times Union calls Kirsten an Albany native and said, ‘Ms. Gillibrand and her family live in Columbia County and nowhere else.’ The Glens Falls Post-Star called Sweeney’s claims false and disingenuous, and said, ‘It’s a non-issue. Get past it.’

So why is John Sweeney lying? Maybe because he doesn’t want you to remember that he’s been one of President Bush’s biggest supporters in the Congress. He doesn’t want you to know about his lockstep support for the Bush energy plan that rewards big oil companies instead of reducing the price of gas at the pump.

And maybe Sweeney doesn’t want to talk about the fact that he supports the president’s failed ‘Stay the Course’ strategy in Iraq. A rubberstamp for the failed Bush agenda on gas prices and Iraq. Now we know why John Sweeney would rather tell lies about Kirsten Gillibrand than tell the truth about his own record.”

Another Pay to Play Day for Sweeney

Sweeney's having another Payola Fundraiser. This time with Headlining NYC Republican Rudy Gualini at the home of Lobbyist Donors who are also former Bush campaigners, etc. The $1000 per person event is open to us all:

You are Cordially Invited to a luncheon honoring Congressman John Sweeney - House Appropriations Committee With Special Guest Mayor Rudy Giuliani Monday, August 21, 2006 Noon to 1:00 PM at the home of Julie Chlopecki and David Fuscus 85 Union Avenue Saratoga Springs, NY

Same ole pay to play connections as the TU blog reports, Fuscus and Chlopecki (see their lobbyist bios here) have:

...Contributed $1,000 apiece to Sweeney in this election cycle. In addition, at least one of their clients, the National Restaurant Association, has contributed $1,000 to him as well.

The firm’s other clients have included: the Air Transport Association, the Capital Region Airport Commission, the Motor Freight Carriers Association, Midwest Airlines, Airbus, Alaska Airlines, the American Frozen Food Institute and the National Food Processors Association.

The transportation clients are interesting to note. Sweeney is vice chair of the Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee.

The food clients are interesting, too. Sweeney recently co-sponsored a measure billed as an effort to streamline state and local laws about food. But opponents say it really aims to get rid of laws that mandate a higher standard of safety than the federal government - a boon to certain food companies.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kirsten's New Ad

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Grassroots to Netroots

Saratoga Democrats sent along a good opportunity for Kirsten's grassroots supporters to help her campaign.

Go to this Daily Kos blog message and post a comment supporting Kirsten Gillibrand for the MyDD/DailyKos/Swing State Project Netroots Candidates list.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Troy Polloi: McNULTY ENDORSES DEMOCRAT

Over at the TroyPolloi this amusing little discourse on our favorite Bush Toady:
" We realize that politicians and their people get a bit crazy during election season, but Ms. Donovan really needs to stop chasing her Flexeril with Wild Turkey. Ms. Donovan's boss is one of the most partisan hacks to ever sit in Congress. Who can forget his shameless, infantile antics during the Florida recount (stopping election officials from removing sample ballots from the room)? He's unabashedly supported the most uncompromising and incompetent partisan administration in the history of the nation. For anyone from Sweeney's gang to call anyone else partisan is like Donald Trump calling someone else tacky."
Read the whole thing. Pretty funny stuff.

Good Ol Farmer Sweeney

Farmer John showed his deep devotion to agricuture this week in the Mountain Eagle. Now we know that Farmer J's compassion for the farmer is about the same as a weasel's love for a flock of hens. In the event, his deep sincerity inspired the following: With his column in the Eagle, Congresssman Sweeney showed a strong familiarity with one kind of farm equipment: the manure spreader. Those of you you who read carefully may have noted that nowhere does Sweeney say he has actually written or sponsored a bill friendly to agriculture. That's because in fact in 8 years he has done nothing for farmers. ^The only aid he has brough to Delaware County was a grant to improve the Delhi golf course. Golf Course? Is that so farmers can play a few holes between haying and milking?. Sweeney must think farmers keep Congressman's hours. Maybe next time he will come out for a golf ball subsidy to match his bill on race horses. After going on about all the legislation he has 'helped' or 'supported', he carefully avoids saying a word about his stand on next year's comprehensive farm legislation. With a 90% Delay approval rating, he voted for price supports where 85% of federal money goes to megabillion dollar agribusiness farms. That's the kind of farm Mr. Sweeny likes. Bush Republicans again and again make sure that the lion's share of farm subsidy goes to a few huge firms, while family farms get the crumbs. He then rounds off by telling us how his help in repealing the estate tax will help farm familes. It's my understanding that this bill will help exactly 27 farms across the nation. You can guess who owns these farms. I doubt Mr. Sweeney even realized there were farms in his district until this year when he got some real competition. Has anyone ever seen him out in this part of the District? I doubt it. The Congressman thinks the 20th is made up of Hudson River towns where they ski and drink Chablis. Well manure spreading is an age-old politician's pastime, but I'm not sure his brand of fertilizer will make my alfalfa grow. Too much Bull in it.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good News: Another day another Gillibrand accomplishment.

The Bad News: I would like it if someone can explain to me why the PostStar thinks that there is something wrong with following a public figure around and filming them. They suggested in an editorial this weekend that Kirsten Gillibrand's volunteer should just hold a notepad instead. Yeah right, sure Sweeney would admit to saying anything they claimed he said with no proof whatsoever because golly gee, he never denies anything that he actually did. Hello? Remember how he tried to convince us that no matter what the photos reveal, he's not drunk at that frat party. I say there is nothing wrong with a volunteer holding Sweeney accountable to his words. And yes, get the proof. That is what the press should always support.

Ironically, in the same issue in which they claim that Gillibrand isn't focused on the issues of campaign enough (we beg to differ with them on that) they report that:

Area paper mills could be part of the solution to the oil crisis, Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said Saturday.

Researchers have suggested cellulosic fibers contained in waste discarded in the process of making paper can be converted into fuel, Gillibrand said during a question-and-answer session at the Glens Falls Democratic Picnic.

Converting pulp mill waste into fuel has the potential to bring new revenues to the paper industry as well as reduce reliance on foreign oil, she said.

The nation needs an energy policy that addresses both economics and the environment...

The Ugly News (for JS that is): A recent poll shows more bad news for John Sweeney. Sweeney tries to claim he's not a Bush lap dog these days but we all know that is just because Bush's numbers are going down so fast that before you know it there will be more Americans who think Elvis is still alive than those who think Bush is doing a good job.

...More sobering for the GOP are the number of voters who backed Bush in 2004 who are ready to vote Democratic in the fall's congressional elections — 19 percent. These one-time Bush voters are more likely to be female, self-described moderates, low- to middle-income and from the Northeast and Midwest. .. fewer than 100 days before the Nov. 7 election, the AP-Ipsos poll suggested the midterms are clearly turning into a national referendum on Bush.

The number of voters who say their congressional vote this fall will be in part to express opposition to the president jumped from 20 percent last month to 29 percent, driven by double-digit increases among males, minorities, moderate and conservative Democrats and Northeasterners.

"I don't feel like the war was the answer," said Paula Lohler, 54, an independent from Worcester, Mass., who is inclined to vote her opposition to Bush. "It seems like it's going on and on and on and nothing's being done." (Read more in the 8/11 AP story)

Friday, August 11, 2006

News Flash: NOT!

Just in case this hasn't been made very clear based on his past statements and on his voting record, the:

Congressman John Sweeney of Clifton Park said he couldn't agree more with President Bush.

Once again yesterday.

Another Sweeney Mistake

Today's Post Star reveals yet another blatant lie by John Sweeney:

...In recent weeks, the labor-backed Working Families Party ran radio commercials in the Glens Falls area criticizing Sweeney for supporting legislation that tied an increase in the federal minimum wage with a permanent reduction to the estate tax.

Sweeney has said he would have preferred legislation that dealt exclusively with the minimum wage issue, but Democrats as well as Republicans were not willing to support that.... (Read the full story here)

The Post Star didn't notice, question or point out this Sweeney falsehood, but we blogged about the minimum wage bills in July. Here's why Sweeney is all wet and downright wrong:

This bill HR 2429, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, would have allowed for a straight up or down vote on a just raising the minimum wage. The bill had no amendments or strings attached. It was introduced by Democrat George Miller and had 144 cosponsors including NY 22nd District Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

The Republican congress simply wouldn't get behind giving working families a leg up without giving out some wealthy tax cuts. The Republican bill that Sweeney supported will cut into our federal revenues. The Democratic bill would have cost corporations not the government.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Blunders from Team Sweeney

Poststar.com noticed how out of it Sweeney is today. After Sweeney tried to dis the recent union endorsements Gillibrand picked up, Sweeney Spinners carried on with their more-lies-as-usual re-election effort:

There's some irony here.

...Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan said in the prepared statement. "Both unions rarely, if ever, endorse a Republican. They go rank and file with Democrats every step of the way."

Moments later, NYSUT issued a separate press release endorsing re-election bids of five area Republican state legislators. ...

These endorsements mean Sweeney has again lost former supporters. Here is the story the PS published on Kirsten Gillibrand's new endorsements.

...The many endorsements coming her way indicate the tide is changing, Gillibrand said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "I think labor has moved away from him because of his lack of support for labor issues," she said.

"We think she has a shot," said Gregory Gorea, president of United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local One, which represents supermarket workers.

Two area unions that endorsed Gillibrand on Wednesday split from their national affiliate organizations.

Amalgamated Transit Workers Union, which represents Capital District Transportation Authority drivers, endorsed Gillibrand, even though its national organization previously contributed $5,000 to Sweeney in the current election cycle.

"Since we endorsed Kirsten, there will be no more money going to Congressman Sweeney," said Steve Green, the local union president. The national union has now contributed $2,500 to Gillibrand, and will be contributing more, he said.

The national Sheetmetal Workers International Union has contributed $4,000 to Sweeney's campaign, but the local organization also endorsed Gillibrand on Wednesday.

Other new labor endorsements for Gillibrand include the following: National Federation of Federal Employees, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Machinists, Office & Professional Employees International Union, United Auto Workers, United University Professors, Public Employees Federation. ...

The real thug in this race is John Sweeney

If you ask me, Sweeney-Spinners calling the Gillibrand team a "gang of thugs" for filming John Sweeney in public is pretty stupid. But for the Sweeney campaign to even mention the word "thugs" after Sweeney lead the rent a riot to halt democracy and shut down the 2000 election vote recount - WOW!

When will they ever get it? Is it part of the Karl Rove "Strategery" to have Republican incumbents accuse the Democrats of whatever crimes and misdeeds they themselves are guilty of?

Bravo to Kirsten Gillibrand and her efforts to hold Sweeney accountable.

Shame on Sweeney for painting Gillibrand as a "thug" for keeping tabs on what he tells the voters here. Has anyone explained to Mr. Sweeney that he's supposed to be a public servant and that he is running for public office?

Am I the only one who thinks it is pretty ironinc that Sweeney is getting his knickers up in a twist over being filmed in public while he supports a president that is keeping track of the phone calls which law abiding citizens with no terrorist connections make in the privacy of our own homes?

Will any kind reporter be asking him if he still thinks his actions that shut down the democratic process in 2000 were "completely and absolutely legitimate" (those are his own words on the 2000 vote recount) or if he was more like the leader of a "gang of thugs" as his campaign says of others?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

House Rules

This is how House Republicans make sure nothing anyone may or may not support ever gets done. Remember the horse bill? Here come the poison pills...

The House Agriculture Committee attached "poison pill" amendments yesterday to a bill designed to outlaw horse slaughter, potentially damaging the ban's chance of passage.

The committee voted 37-3 to send the bill to the House floor with an unfavorable recommendation. The amended bill would make the federal government financially responsible for thousands of "unwanted horses," require compensation for horse owners who could no longer sell their animals to slaughter plants and establish a pilot project to dump the horses in either Kentucky or New York. The bill's sponsor is Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y. ...

Another amendment "grandfathers" in the three existing slaughter plants, allowing them to continue selling U.S. horsemeat to markets in Europe and Japan. About 90,000 American horses, often young healthy animals, were butchered last year, then sold as pricey specialty meats overseas. (Read the full story at the Lexington Herald-Leader)

Sweeney and The Pharmacy Lobbyist

Sweeney is listed among the Republicans who are "most likely to lose their seats because they abandoned the interests of their constituents for payoffs from Big Pharma" (as in Pharmacy) read about it in: WILL THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FALL INTO A DOUGHNUT HOLE OF VOTER WRATH IN NOVEMBER?

Sweeney's most recent "Skiing with Sweeney" was a $2,000 per person event which included dinner at the home of Jeffrey Kimbell, a pharmaceutical lobbyist. (This was his second annual "Skiing with Sweeney" weekend.) Read more about it here.

Kimbell is a member of Capital Club, a "club for 100 ‘socially aggressive,’ well-connected guys" including:

President Bush’s nephew Billy Bush, a host on “Access Hollywood”; House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) press secretary, Jonathan Grella; John Breaux Jr., the Louisiana senator’s son; White House spokesman Taylor Gross; Fox News Pentagon correspondent Brett Baier (The Hill 4/28/04)

The article claimed the purpose of the group was charitable, but it gives just $10,000 a year to charity which seems pretty skimpy considering the membership rolls if you ask me. In the 2004 article, Kimbell claims he went to public school, but this June 13, 2006 Hill article says:

Kimbell also arrived in Washington at the same time as some notable classmates from his prep school, St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., such as future Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke and future pundit Tucker Carlson. Kimbell also remains close friends with classmate and “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, a first cousin of President Bush.

Early in his career as a lobbyist, Kimbell "exploited the rules of the House and Senate to scuttle a bill" that would require medical device makers to pay the FDA a fee to get their products reviewed. The bill had Democratic backing. Kimbell would:

“Do anything I could possibly do to kill that bill.”

In short order, he says, he did just that, demonstrating a craftiness that continues to be respected by his peers. ...

“Through some good friends and luck, we were able to create some parliamentary questions … to kill a bill which likely would have become law late that session,” Kimbell says.

The GOP took control of congress in the following election and the bill never came to the floor again.

Gillibrand Campaign Coverage

8/2/06 - The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Gillibrand hits campaign trail in Saranac Lake

By LEE MANCHESTER, Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE — Kirsten Gillibrand has been pegged as the first Democrat in eight years with a serious chance of beating Republican incumbent John Sweeney in New York’s 20th Congressional district this November.

This week, Essex County voters are getting their first opportunity to meet the candidate. Her campaign staff has lined up events for every day of the week: Sunday, the county fair; Monday, a meet ’n’ greet at Mr. Mike’s Pizza Restaurant; Tuesday, a visit to the Border Patrol checkpoint at the 100-mile mark on Interstate 87 in North Hudson.

Yesterday afternoon, Gillibrand met with an ostensibly nonpartisan but left-leaning activist group, Voters For Change, in the North Elba Town House in Saranac Lake — just about as far north as you can go and still be in the 20th district.

“She’s a very fine candidate,” the event’s moderator told the audience of about two dozen, “and the Democrats have to win the House of Representatives, and Kirsten is our contribution to that.”

Gillibrand, 39, lives in Hudson, in Columbia County, 38 miles south of Albany. A Dartmouth and UCLA Law School grad, she is a partner in the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner. During the Clinton administration, Gillibrand served as special counsel to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo, who’s now running to become New York’s next attorney general.

Gillibrand will face a four-term incumbent in November who wants to make it an even five.

When Sweeney first ran for Congress in 1998, he had already established his political bona fides, serving a three-year stint as New York state GOP executive director and another year as Gov. George Pataki’s deputy secretary.

That year, the Democrat he faced was Red Hook Councilwoman Jean Bordewich. She was leading the race in a Labor Day poll, but the Democratic Party withheld the big money she needed to maintain her momentum through the November general election. Sweeney ended up winning, 55 percent to 42.

Since that first election for the Congressional seat left open by Gerry Solomon’s retirement, Sweeney has handily disposed of the other three Democrats who’ve stood up to contest his re-election campaigns, twice by a two-to-one margin, once by three to one.

None of Sweeney’s Democratic opponents got a dime from either the state or national Democratic campaign operations.

This year, however, Sweeney’s seat appears to be in play, and the Democrats have quickly moved to back their new, credible candidate in a big way. The Gillibrand campaign is being funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the legendary Emily’s List has thrown open its mailing list to her, sending campaign solicitations to proven donors on her behalf.

Sweeney appears to recognize that he’s in for a fight.

In an extended article on John McCain’s presidential campaign, published in this month’s Esquire magazine, McCain is greeted by Sweeney at a stop in New York. McCain asks the congressman for his assessment of the prospects for one Republican House member after another. Sweeney “answers with doom,” according to Esquire.

“I think the whole state’s in play,” Sweeney reportedly told McCain.

The reason?

“There are a lot of reasons,” Gillibrand told the Lake Placid News Monday morning. “The people who live in this district are very independent-minded, no matter whether they are Republicans or Democrats or Independence Party members or voters without party affiliation.

“A lot of Republicans from my mother and my father’s generation call themselves Rockefeller Republicans. They are fiscal conservatives, social progressives, and often environmentalists and conservationists. As a consequence, they don’t agree with the Bush administration — because those are three things the Bush administration is not.

“Those Republicans have been voting for Democrats the last two or three electoral cycles. When (U.S. Sen.) Chuck Schumer ran the first time, he got 41 percent of the vote in this Congressional district. The second time he ran, he received 57 percent of the vote,” Gillibrand said. “Republicans were willing to vote for a Democrat because they liked him and they thought he shared their priorities.”

Gillibrand also said that four counties in the district had seen shifts on town, village or city boards in the last election from Republican to Democratic control.

“There’s a sense that things aren’t getting better, and the leadership at not only the state but the national level has been almost completely Republican,” Gillibrand said. “Gas prices are going up; health care costs are going up; tax cuts have not been for the middle class, but for the super-wealthy.

“They’re not seeing the return on the investment of voting for these candidates, and they’re deciding to vote for Democrats.”

Gillibrand will be in Essex County through the end of the week, making the following appearances:

¯This morning at the I-87 Border Patrol checkpoint

¯Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Farmers Market behind the Lake Placid Center for the Arts

¯Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to noon, at “Coffee With Eliot” at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid Resort, which will also offer participants a chance to talk with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer

¯Friday, 7 to 9 p.m., at a community forum in the Ticonderoga Community Building.

Thursday’s “Coffee With Eliot” is a fundraising event for the Essex County Democratic Committee. To make a reservation for this $25-ticket event, call Essex County Democratic Chairwoman Sue Montgomery Corey at 251-2525.

A call to the phone number on Sweeney’s campaign Web site was not returned.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Recommended Blog-reads

The WFP Blog has a good Election Round Up post up here.

Room Eight's Sweeney: I'll Only Support Raising Min Wage if Millionaires Get Tax Cuts.

Plattsburgh Press Republican Article

Gillibrand visits Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID — Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for what she calls an “energy independence revolution” in her run for a seat in Congress.

During a 35-minute conversation in Lake Placid Monday morning, the woman hoping to oust John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park) as the 20th Congressional District’s representative, said that revolution would bolster national security, create new jobs and protect the environment.

The goal, she said, would be to cut the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by 60 percent. Meanwhile, the government should provide incentives to industries to become more energy efficient and to entrepreneurs to develop and market alternative energy.

This region, she said, is ripe for new businesses and the jobs they’d bring aimed at producing clean energy.

Within 10 years, she said, the country could be energy independent.

“With federal leadership, you can make this a reality,” Gillibrand said.

Leadership was a topic she returned to repeatedly over the conversation, saying her opponent has provided not nearly enough of it during his time in office.

“They (voters) want real leadership and they want new ideas,” she said.

High gas prices have been draining North Country wallets for months, yet Sweeney and his Republican colleagues have yet to thoroughly investigate oil companies to determine if they are unfairly manipulating the market, she said.

She said the ruling party has also failed to provide short-term relief by reducing the federal tax on gas, something that would be a boon to an area in which most people drive to and from work.

“I really believe we need a stronger advocate,” she said. “We need legislation that lowers gas prices. We need tax cuts that benefit our district.”

Gillibrand, a lawyer, lives in the southern end of the district in Hudson. She is married and has a son.

Also included in her platform — tax cuts aimed at the middle class and the reining in of health-care costs.

She criticized Sweeney for repeatedly voting against increasing the minimum wage, accusing him of voting “against working families of our district.”

(Sweeney did just vote for a bill tying a minimum-wage increase to an estate-tax cut.)

Asked where the money for the reforms she’s pushing (some of the incentives she proposed to spur the development of alternative energy relied on tax breaks) would come from, Gillibrand pointed to the federal government.

“Cut spending,” she said, listing a number of expensive pork-barrel projects that are of dubious value to the nation.

“We need to start auditing our federal spending,” she said.

She called the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87, site of several bloody collisions, a “very bad idea” and unnecessary.

And she dismissed the Congressional Winter Challenge, the ski weekend that’s ensnared Sweeney in controversy, as ineffective.

Gillibrand said the North Country needs a representative in Washington who will promote it tirelessly and fight to spark job-growth.

“We’re building the kind of campaign it takes to beat an incumbent,” she said.

Gillibrand will be in the area for the rest of the week and will appear in Lake Placid on Thursday with Democratic candidate for governor, Eliot Spitzer.