The "battlegrounds" for the 2006 midterm elections are popping up all over the place, and in places you'd likely never expect. Right here in Upstate New York, we're going to have two of them. One is up in Buffalo, but the other one is right in mid-state - New York's 24th, where Republican Sherry Boehlert reigned for decades, but is now retiring. Originally people seemed to be thinking that the Republican Boehlert anointed, Ray Meier, would sail to victory. But that pesky Democrat, District Atty. Mike Arcuri, came out of the woodwork and suddenly pulled into a lead in the polls. He has even raised more campaign money than Meier, despite Republicans from two dozen "safe" districts around the country flushing cash desperately into the GOP campaign.
Arcuri has now raised nearly $1.66 million for the year compared to $1.27 million by Meier.
Meier collected $126,850 from political action committees representing a wide range of special interests, incumbent Republicans from other parts of the country and conservative groups. A report by Political MoneyLine, an independent group that tracks campaign money, ranked him the eighth highest recipient of PAC money among 499 incumbents and challengers between Oct. 1 and 18, the period covered by the latest campaign report.
Arcuri received only $67,500 from PACs and a whopping $339,582 from individuals.
So what can the Republicans do in this race which the linked article above describes as being of "critical interest" to the GOP? We don't have those fancy Diebold "I will deliver the Ohio vote to George W. Bush" voting machines here. We use old fashioned flip lever machines which have long proven reliable. But that doesn't mean that the GOP won't be up to any hanky panky. Karl Rove and his puppets have been acting awfully confident again this season, despite the poll numbers, haven't they? Their Ohio tactics from 2004 - suppressing turnout, not enough machines, intimidation of voters, Dem candidates names "mysteriously" not showing up on the ballot in some precincts - would serve them well here. Particularly down near where I live, far from Meiers' base in Utica, where he's getting slaughtered in the polls there's reason for concern.
So, I can hear you thinking... we're screwed right? Maybe.
Then again, maybe not.
Not if enough people are watching closely enough and are prepared to take action immediately if things are looking fishy. That's why I'd like to point you to "Video the Vote." Please check this site out, and if you think you can help, no matter what district you are in, consider doing so. Here's a video from YouTube about the effort. Please watch.
I don't actually live in the 24th, but I'm right on the edge. I can walk five blocks and be in that district. Recently, (the cause for my lack of blogging appearances here) I've been getting into amateur filmmaking. As part of that, I now own a pretty darned nice, 3CCD mini-DV camera with a great mic that takes excellent video in most any light levels and good audio. Also small enough to fit easily under your coat. Perfect for interviews and recording suspicious activity. On election day, I'm going to try to have Video the Vote stationing me at one of the 24th's polling locations and be on the lookout, talking to people and seeing first hand if there's any nonsense going on. If Meiers can beat Arcuri fair and square in a properly executed and counted vote, good for him. If not, we'll be right on his ass.
Is this something you can help with if you live in or near a closely contested House district? Do you own a camera? Doesn't even have to be a high end one. A camera phone or a digital camera with the ability to capture motion .avi clips will do just fine. Think about it. Do you want your district to be the next Florida or Ohio? Do you want clearly defined poll numbers to suddenly turn on their heads on election day and "last minute surges" by Republicans to keep control of the House and Senate?