Maggie at the D&C

Maggie Brooks went to the D&C Editorial Board yesterday, and because this is still 1955 and everyone waits for the paper newspaper to hit their steps before they’re sure it’s news, Jim Lawrence will write it up on Sunday. Until then, here’s the D&C’s liveblog transcript.

Editorial board member Larry Frye thinks he caught Maggie saying something out-of-sync with her party’s position on immigration, quoting her as saying “We can agree in principle with the president’s position”, referring to the Obama Administration’s recent decision to stop deporting illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children.

Brian Sharp at the D&C has a follow-up story where the Slaughter campaign addresses Brooks’ criticism that she’s a Washington insider who’s never in the district by trotting out Maggie’s scandals. As a sidelight, Gerald Gamm gets to be as wrong as he was the last time he was quoted in the D&C:

Both are well known in the district and have “enormous reservoirs of goodwill,” said Gerald Gamm, chairman of the University of Rochester political science department. “Most voters like both of them. I think it’s really a risky strategy for either one of them to start attacking the other one.”

Brooks is running against an Democratic incumbent in a Democratic district. Presumably these Democrats are in general agreement on the issues with their fellow Democrat, Louise Slaughter. How the hell is Brooks going to win if she doesn’t convince voters there’s something wrong with Louise Slaughter?

Finally, as kind of an amusing sidelight to this little event, Maggie Brooks finally put some national issues on her website on the day of the meeting according to my monitoring software. I’ll have more on that in later posts.

Slaughter Out-Raises Brooks

Both the Brooks and Slaughter campaigns filed spending reports covering April, May and a few days in June, and Louise Slaughter out-raised Maggie Brooks by about $56K. Slaughter has close to $700K in the bank, with Brooks reporting about $370K.

Looking at the details, we see that Slaughter received about 54% of her donations from Political Action Committees (PACs) and 46% from individual donors. Small donors (giving under $200) were 37% of the total individual haul. For the whole cycle, Slaughter has received 36% of her donations from individuals, and the rest from PACs.

Brooks received all her donations from individual donors this reporting period, and almost all of that (96%) from donors giving more than $200. This means that Brooks will have more donors reaching their $5,000 limit than Slaughter, and will need to find new sources of funds as we approach the general election. Brooks has gotten 89% of her donations from individuals over the whole cycle.

This is a real “meh” fundraising report for Brooks, who was a fundraising dynamo during her County Executive runs. She’s tapped out a lot of major big-name donors (the Wegmans figure prominently in this report) but unless she has a bunch more of those in her pocket, she’ll need to work the phones harder to raise enough money to be competitive in this race.

Oh, Look, Something Happened

The firing of the director of the Monroe County Crime Lab, Janet Anderson-Seaquist, has Maggie Brooks on the defensive.  Louise Slaughter’s office released a statement linking the firings to two scandals with the Airport director and the ROBUTRAD incident. Brooks’ weak defense is that her opponent is “playing politics”.

Since, as Clarke pointed out yesterday, every peep from the Brooks campaign has been about Brooks’ record in Monroe County rather than her position on national issues, it’s pretty weak sauce to complain when your opponent raises questions about trouble that happened on your watch. And Brooks’ statement that she fired Anderson-Seaquist the moment that she got the Inspector General’s report just raises the question of why it took a state investigation for Brooks to find out that her crime lab director told a pretty serious lie and mishandled a fair amount of evidence.

As News 10 points out, a California court ruling in 2011, a year after Anderson-Seaquist was appointed, was pretty scathing about Anderson-Seaquist “[making] things up as she went along”. Making stuff up becomes a lifelong habit, so this report makes me wonder whether the hiring process was mishandled by the Brooks administration.

Rachel Barnhart has some more details on the genesis of the Inspector General’s report, and points to this D&C piece on disagreements between the Crime Lab and the DA’s office. She also notes that defense attorneys approved of Anderson-Seaquist’s changes at the crime lab. Maybe Rachel has other information from her sources, but it sounds like the DA’s disagreement on some evidence was legitimate, and that the DA’s use of an outside testing lab proved they were right in at least one instance.

As with the firing of the last Airport Director, Brooks handled this one quickly and cleanly. Unless some new evidence comes up, I doubt this will have a major political impact on its own, since it doesn’t involve cigars, strippers or years of blatant political favors. But it does add one more to the list of personnel issues under Brooks’ watch, and that list was already long enough for Slaughter to name it as a serious issue this Fall.

(Photo by Clarke Condé.)

The Tale of Two Campaigns

ROCHESTER, NY- County Executive Maggie Brooks briefly sits with a mother and small child for the cameras after a press conference at the library. Photo by Clarke Condé.

HENRETTA, NY- Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was scheduled to personally open a conference on trade policy at RIT, but is still not making public appearances. Photo by Clarke Condé.

ROCHESTER, NY- While there has been little public display of the campaign for the NY-25, two events today may offer a glimpse of what we are likely to see this autumn. As Congresswoman Louise Slaughter continues what staffers say is a four-hour daily regiment of physical therapy, her office continued to delve into national issues, including today’s U.S. trade policy conference at R.I.T without the Congresswoman. On the flipside, County Executive Brooks has cut every ribbon, announced every partnership and opened every dog park she could over the last few months in front of the camera, today kicking off the Monroe County Summer Reading program at the Central Library.

Thus far, not a peep has been peeped from the Brooks camp on a national issue and nary has a Slaughter been sighted from the Slaughter side.  The fundraising, of course, continues at a blistering pace, helped on both sides by Brooks recently being named to the GOP’s “Young Guns’ list of the top 21 blue to red campaigns.

So what of strategy as the coffers swell?  Will we see Slaughter stay focused on national issues and surrogates?  Will Brooks stick to local issues and retail politics?  And what will the massive amounts of money and brilliant out-of-town operatives that seem to follow such cash ad to the campaign?

Wait until August is what I keep hearing.

The State of the County

PITTSFORD, NY The temperature may have pushed 90 degrees in the St. John Fisher auditorium, but Maggie Books delivered what she hopes will be her last State of the County address cold.  Her ninth such speech, Brooks was an on-message machine dispatching jobs numbers and accolades with practiced precision.  As is her standard MO, Brooks must have mentioned jobs a dozen times in the first 20 minutes, speaking directly to what polls suggest is the number one issue for voters locally and nationally.

Having been to a handful of these State of the County addresses over the years, the difference was in the context.  While Brooks and her team have gotten better at making her view of her record the generally accepted one, her critics have seemingly gotten worse at disputing it.  If this speech was anything but a codification of the Maggie Brooks narrative, it was lost on me.

While many are asking how a Brooks congressional campaign will differ from a Brooks county campaign, I think the real question is why would it need to? I can’t help thinking that questions about Brooks positions on controversial national issues will be treated exactly like questions about administrative corruption have been, by both groups.  Brooks will stick to a brief statement and get back to talking about things local people care about (jobs and taxes) and critics will try frantically to convince the public that they should care about something else (other than jobs and taxes).  Say what you want, but it has worked three times before with the exact same voters.

Anyway, as the campaign progresses, I look very much forward to covering the race, On the Ground so to speak, in photos and commentary for Roc25.  This is a somewhat new role for me, but I couldn’t be happier to work with Rottenchester on this project.  Let me also say to my friends and potential tipsters, my phone number hasn’t changed, and to my critics and detractors, hang up and press one.

This is going to be fun.

Maggie and Louise Agree

Jeremy Moule at City reports that Slaughter and Brooks’ positions on the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act are pretty much identical, which means that Brooks disagrees with House Republican leadership on this issue.

Another Brooks Messaging Mistake

Benjamin Wachs in the Gates-Chili Post:

Maggie Brooks says we’ll know how she’ll vote as a congresswoman by her record as a county executive. When I suggested that this actually leaves a lot to the imagination, her spokesman Noah Lebowitz scolded me in an email: “There is no confusion on how Maggie will govern in Congress.”

Wachs goes on to point out that trying to figure out how Brooks would vote in Congress is basically impossible from her record in Monroe County. He’s just another voice in the chorus making that same point, one that seems to escape those in charge of Brooks’ messaging.

Obamacare Ads, Pro and Con

The US Chamber of Commerce is out with an ad reminding us that that Slaughter voted for Obamacare:

The CSEA is out with an ad reminding us that Maggie Brooks opposes Obamacare:

As with any ads released to the media and embedded in web pages, the question is whether they’re released to get some free media, or if someone’s going to pay to run them on actual TV stations. The CSEA ad is just red meat for its members, so I doubt it will be aired anywhere. The Chamber claims that it is buying some ad time, but my guess is that this, too, is a symbolic ad buy.

Update: Sean Carroll of 13-WHAM wrote to say that the Chamber ad is up and running in Rochester, certainly against Kathy Hochul from neighboring (current) NY-26.