Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.


In addition to comments, I'd love to have guest posts. Please send ideas or full-blown posts to me at gdreeher@maxwell.syr.edu.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Strange and Intriguing Political Death Spiral of Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Maffei

Despite getting increasingly disgusted with some of the political rhetoric I've been hearing and reading (see earlier posts on this), I still love the way that politics creates strange ironies and paradoxes.

Here's one I've been pondering a bit recently:  Given likely redistricting outcomes, Dan Maffei and Ann Marie Buerkle desperately need each other. 

Why is this a paradox?  Because, based on watching the two of them debate and listening to what they have said publicly about each other--and not said--I'm going to go out on a limb and assert that they are not the best of pals.

But in considering possible redistricting schemes here in this area, their best--and perhaps only--chance of winning back or keeping a congressional seat in 2012 is if they can run against each other.

New York must give up two congressional districts, and pundits have identified the Syracuse area as ripe for getting carved up and merged into other existing districts, at the same time that those other districts are re-shaped.  There are several political reasons that this is the likely outcome--the subject for another blog perhaps.

But if this carving up were to happen, Ann Marie Buerkle would most likely be pitted against incumbent Richard Hanna in a Republican primary.  Hard to see her winning that match-up.  Hanna is a well-liked, bona fide moderate Republican.  Moderate Republican still fits this regional area well--just ask Joanie Mahoney for instance. 

The other scenarios have her running against a series of incumbent western Democrats, and given the politics of geography, those would be tough races for her (assuming she got the nomination).  The final more remote possibility is that she would take on Democrat Bill Owens, and in that race she'd have both geography and ideological positioning working against her.  Owens has established himself as a more moderate Democrat.

Dan Maffei has a similar problem, perhaps an even more severe version of it.  It's very hard to imagine him beating any of the aforementioned Democrats in a primary--and in some cases I doubt he'd even be likely to challenge them.  He'd be facing the same tough geographic politics, for one thing. 

In addition, despite the fact that he has run as a self-styled moderate, and also that he has some votes and positions to bolster that claim, I do not think he is solidly perceived to be particularly moderate, and perception is what counts in an election.  That would hurt him in a primary race against Bill Owens, for example.

But where that problem would really hurt him is in a general election against Richard Hanna.  Just like Buerkle, he'd be running against a well-liked bona fide moderate, and again, it's hard to imagine him winning that match-up if he's carrying any liberal baggage.

Of course, things can rapidly change in politics.  But the way it seems to be shaping up, the best hope either of them has is a re-match with the other.

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