(Posted with permission from the author. Original post by “shrimppop” published 8/23/06)
I met NY-29 challenger Eric Massa at a house party for him last night in Canadice, NY. I’m a supporter and I’d already given $100 to the campaign, but I came away from the meeting even more impressed. More on the flip.
As you can see, Canadice is located between Podunk and East Jesus. Eric Massa and his Assistant Field Director, Sam, drove up from Corning (hour and a half drive) to meet with about 15 of us in a living room.
First off, I’m impressed with this style of campaigning, meeting voters face to face in small groups, where they live. Grass roots, for real.
Second, I was impressed with Massa’s energy, enthusiasm and conviction. He was very passionate about what he’s doing and showed a particular knack for turning perceived negatives into positives. For example, he said something like:
Getting consensus from Democrats in Congress is like herding cats. And therein lies our great strength. In our diversity, we debate things and come up with the best path forward.
Third I was impressed by his credentials. He arrived in a conservative blue suit, and was talking about speaking at an NRA meeting (taking the fight to the beast!) where everyone was talking about the second amendment, no one knew what it said, and he knew more about guns than any of them, by virtue of his military service. He was Wes Clark’s Congressional Liaison as well as high up in NATO. He attracts a lot of swing voters and liberal republicans this way.
The NRA meeting came up a few times. Massa had invited the incumbent, Randy Kuhl, to a debate, which Kuhl declined. But then he showed up anyway, as did local wingnut radio commentator Bob Lonsberry, who tore Randy a new one because he wouldn’t debate!
Sam was very cool too. He was mentioning he wrote his thesis at Cornell on Rousseau and Technology, studying DailyKos in particular.
In general, I dislike politicians. There’s a categorical phoniness to how they talk, and there was some of that feeling with Massa. But he was also very, very candid and said things to us in a small group, then told us he would never say such things at a large public gathering. I take this as political practicality, rather than being two-faced. One can see that he’d prefer to say things straight out in public, but has learned not to do that.