Breslin Relies on Big $$ Advertising, Martland on Shoe-Leather and Big Momentum
Welcome back once again. It's been only a few days since our last update to the hottest political contest in Albany County this year. But with incumbent Senator Neil Breslin and primary challenger Luke Martland in the final push of what has become one of the most expensive primaries in the state, the news of Breslin's defense of the status quo and Martland's defiant stand against the established order continues to draw more attention.
A neat synopsis of the above-mentioned qualities of the race was presented by the local cable news channel YNN, formerly Capital News 9. For those looking for a quick wrap-up of where things stands, this is a good entry. Luke Martland gives a great interview while barnstorming the area, nicely juxtaposed against quoted text responses from a Breslin campaign spokesperson.
The rest of the story, including the Times Union' weak endorsement of Senator Breslin and continued debate over this race's relationship to Senator Pedro Espada, lies below the fold...
(Cross-Posted on The Albany Project)
"Take Albany Back"
The best indicator of what's really going on in the Martland camp might not be coming from the media. They are doing good job at letting voters know a race is on this year, and have been covering Martland's campaign and Breslin's service in the Senate closer than ever before.
Still, its the tone in the most recent e-mail to supporters that tells me this is campaign that is doing better than expected against very heavy odds. It may be a longshot challenge, but you get the sense of serious momentum here:
In 2 days you will make a very important choice
For the first time in many years, voters in Albany County have a choice for State Senate. On one hand the status quo and a legacy of late budgets, ever-rising taxes, jobs fleeing the area, corruption, incompetence and dysfunction. On the other hand what I will fight for: responsible budgeting, term limits, a tax cap, and bringing jobs back to upstate. And, an end to the corruption and dysfunction that has made our State Senate an embarrassment.
As we all know, in Albany County the primary is what matters.
Updates: door to door blitz and TV ad
Over the last 7 days we continued our door to door efforts. I have walked every day, usually from 10 or 11 a.m. until the sun sets. Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped out! We will continue our door to door blitz Sunday and Monday. As always the response is fantastic and people deeply appreciate a candidate personally knocking on their door. In the last email blast I asked for support to place our second ad on TV. We received more then enough contributions, and were able to extend the ad's run. Thank you everyone.
Now it's time to bring it home. Now it's time to win
This will be a very close and important race and your vote will make a difference. Remember to vote next Tuesday. Polls are open from 12 noon to 9 p.m.
The focus on the the last-second uptick in advertising to counter the nearly 10 to 1 funding advantage Breslin has over Martland is key here. So, too, are times the projected closeness of the race as mentioned.
Yes, yes, it's an e-mail to supporters meant to drum up enthusiasm....but given the recent attention given to Breslin's lackluster performance as Senator and the jolt of energy it gave Martland's upstart campaign, I wouldn't be surprised if either candidate's internal polling was giving them the message that things are in fact looking very close.
It would explain just why Breslin has spent more on this primary campaign than any campaign he's ever run. Martland made not of this yet again in the YNN coverage, and he continues to repeat messages like this each day on the campaign trail:
Martland Accuses Incumbent Neil Breslin of Trying to Buy the September 14th primaryTimes Union says Breslin spent $184,449 in July and August
(September 9, 2010, Albany) State Senate candidate Luke Martland today accused 14-year-incumbent Neil Breslin of trying to buy the September 14th primary election by spending $184,449 between July 12 and September 3, 2010. (Times Union)
“Neil Breslin can’t run on his record so he is trying to buy the election,” said Martland who has campaigned door to door for 90 days to win the primary on September 14th.
“I don’t have a huge campaign war chest funded by insurance companies, lobbyists and special interests,” added Martland. “Instead, I have knocked on doors and spoken to voters everywhere in Albany County from Albany to Altamont, from Colonie to Coeymans, from Watervliet to Westerlo and every place in between."
The only thing I have to add to that is that I'm sick to death of adding the link to Breslin's fundraising contributors to remind you that all that money is coming from the likes of AIG, Morgan Stanely, Geicko, Bank of America, and all sorts of other big Wall Stree lobbying firms and political action committees. That should be old news to anyone who's been paying attention to Breslin for any period of time, and people really need to start looking this stuff up for themselves. Maybe that will happen eventually...
More recently, these two direct responses to Breslin's recent attempt to distance himself from Senate dysfunction luminaries like Pedro Espada and make claims that he's one of the good guys in the State Senate. The general Martland theme is Neil Breslin Says One Thing and Does Another:
Neil Breslin says he is a fighter for the people of Albany County –
Breslin voted to increase state taxes by $9 billion in the last two years.
Higher taxes cause suffering for middle class people, seniors and small businesses.
One in four people in Albany live in poverty according to the NYS Community Action Association. (TU March 18, 2010)
Neil Breslin voted to furlough public employees.
Health insurance premiums in Albany County went up nearly 15% in the past year according to the NYS Insurance Dept. (TU March 18, 2010)
Neil Breslin is not a fighter for the people of Albany County. He is a leader of the status quo that raises taxes harming middle class people, seniors and small business. He takes campaign contributions from insurance companies, lobbyists and special interests.
Luke Martland will fight for budget reform, to hold down taxes and state spending, create jobs and put the people of Albany County first.
Neil Breslin says he is a reformer and “has made cleaning up the Senate a top priority.”
Neil Breslin opposes term limits for legislators.
Neil Breslin refused to disclose his tax records, law firm client list and salary.
Neil Breslin voted for an ethics bill that would have protected lawyer legislators from revealing their outside income and would have prevented the creation of an independent body to oversee the Legislature.
Neil Breslin refused to return more than $125,000 in contributions from insurance companies and lobbying firms he accepted in the last 18 months while he was chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.
If you support the status quo in the state Senate, vote for Neil Breslin.
Luke Martland supports term limits, legislative oversight and full disclosure.
If you want meaningful change, vote for Luke Martland.
These have been appearing daily in my inbox, and I wouldn't be surprised if more were to follow in the final days of the campaign. Interestingly enough, the main source the Martland campaign is using to prove Breslin is not the squeakly clean champion of the people he claims to be is the local newspaper...
"For All The Right Reasons."
...which this week gave Senator Breslin their endorsement for re-election. The Times Union editorial board on Friday presented what I consider to be one of the worst cases for returning Breslin or any incumbent to office I've ever read.
In fact, I think they've endorsed Breslin for all the wrong reasons.
Judging by the commentary on the TU's own Capitol Confidential blog, I'm clearly not alone in my assessment that this endorsement pandered to a powerful incumbent, ignoring key issues to Martland's detriment and highlighting inconesequential and previously unmentioned minor issues to count towards Breslin's favor. For crying out loud, one section of the endorsement even makes note that the paper's publish and editor sits one several boards of directors that (surprise!) recieved regular support fromthe Senator.
Read the endorsement for yourself and make up your own mind, of course, but as I read it, I wasn't surprised by the fact that the establishment rag endorsement the establishment bum. It was the weakness of the reasoning behind it that knocked me flat. I get the impression both reading responses and talking to voters that this is how the endorsement has fallen in the public's eye.
But Breslin is still trying. In the past few days, the mailer pictured below has been distributed arond Albany County, attempting to make a guy who voted for Pedro Espada for Majority Leader look like a guy who actually stood up to him:
It looks pretty effective to the untrained eye or uneducated voter at first glance. The fact is that Breslin is appealing to just that kind of thing with this mailer; not only did Breslin have the gavel in his hand during the 2009 Senate Coup that gave Espada the Majority Leader's post, but his was one of many Democratic votes that gave it to him in the first place. If any Democratic Senator wanted to take a meaningful stand against Espada, that was the time. Breslin is now one of several Senators statewide, including Espada himself, spending lots of money in their primary re-electionc campaigns trying to convince the public otherwise.
They might buy it, and they might not. But either way, this is still just the primary. With the polls opening in just two days, perhaps it's time to wonder a little about the general election. Smart money still goes to Breslin thanks to his long tenure in office and his family ties to the the County Executive and one of the County Judges, all three of then brothers, but Breslin's electoral fight may not be over after that. While Albany County is overwhelmingly Democratic, it was a first-term Republican Senator and County Executive that Breslin and his brother suceeded to start their decades-long powerhold here. In such an anti-incumbent year, and with a noisy Tea Party segment in the Capital Region, I wouldn't be surprised if probably Republican nominee Bob Domenici couldn't present a serious challenge to Breslin after what has become a bruising primary for the Senator.
Indeed, opposition to Breslin from the right and right-of-center has already begun, and they aren't waiting for the general election to target him. This week's TU Inside Politics columnist sees reporter JOrdan Carleo-Evangelist follow-up on earlier reports that the state-level pro-gun rally has been sending fliers around Albany County encouraging Democrats to vote against Breslin in the primary.
Gun-rights group can't think past primary
The state's biggest gun-rights advocacy group trained its sights on state Sen. Neil Breslin this week, dispatching postcards to its members in Albany County urging them to vote against Breslin in next week's Democratic primary.
The Breslin camp, for its part, wasn't much sweating the ire of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which accused the 14-year-incumbent of consistently sponsoring and voting for "all gun control measures."
The group's PAC, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Political Victory Fund, paid for the mailing.
Breslin's campaign said the senator is proud of his record on gun control -- and for many Democrats generally, the association's distaste is something of a badge of pride.
And that's where it gets weird.
While the rifle and pistol association was imploring its members to vote "against" Breslin on Sept. 14, the group is not endorsing Breslin's lone Democratic opponent, Luke Martland.
Tom King, the association's executive director, explained the mailing this way: "We're saying that we just don't think that Neil Breslin is the man for the job anymore."
Astute observers (or conspiracy theorists) noted that the group might just be trying to weaken Breslin in hopes that he'll lose the primary to Martland, who would make an easier mark for Republican candidate Bob Domenici.
So we asked whether the NYSRPA would be backing Domenici come November, but King said no decision has yet been made.
Given that Dominici is throwing in his lot with the local Tea Party -movement- standstill (something that doesn't make any progress can't be called a movement, after all) and that he's touting former military experience (at least I think he is...don't all Tea Party types?) I'm guessing the gun nuts will go his way eventually. But what's interesting here is, as Carleo-Evangelist's headline points out, they are focusing on Breslin's primary election, not the general.
This speaks to two truths. First, given Albany County's current thirty-plus point registration advantage for Democrats, winning the primary is essentially rubber stamps a general election victory. We're certainly not unique in that respect, but toss in the County's history as being the deathbed of the last of the great urban Democratic machines in just the past generation and you get both a boost to that argument and a second angle that better explains this tactic against Breslin.
See, I make a lot of noise here as a progressive, but I can acknowledge that the Albany County Democratic Party is just that, the Democratic Party. It's not the Progressive Democratic Party, not at all. In fact, the party power players have a conservative bent if you ask me, and most others would probably agree it's most firmly grounded in the center. Such is the nature of self-perpetuating powerful political establishments, but that's beside the point. It's a Democratic environment where the right-wing Guns, Gods, and Gays arguments could work to the tune of a few thousand votes. Trust me: you would be amazed at the language I hear come out the mouths of some of the old white dudes in past committee meetings. Especially during the 2008 presidential campaign. And this contingent certainly can't use the Gays part of the argument this year...
In any case, the ultimate thing to take away from this is that even if Breslin does walk away with the Democratic nomination, his margin of victory may end up mattering in his fight againt the Republcian nominee. It will remain an anti-incumbent year, and if Breslin demonstrates weakness in a primary after 14 years as an incumbent, you can probably prepare for continued and increased media coverage as the big story shifts from Martland's to Domenici's outside chance of taking the Senate seat away from Breslin.
Such is the State of the Race just 48 hours from the closing of the polls, and such are the reasons why I'll have pulled the level for Luke Martland by then. If I can't encourage you to do exactly the same, I at least hope you enjoyed reading and encouraged you to go to the polls this coming Tuesday and vote for somebody, dammit :-) Stay tuned...it's not over until it's over.