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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- New York -- 29

Massa Resigning Monday

After just more than a year in office, Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) announced today he will resign from his seat to spare himself an ethics committee investigation of allegations he harrassed one of his congressional staffers.

"During long car rides, in the early hours of the evening, late at night and always in private, I know that my own language failed to meet the standards that I set for all around me and myself," said Massa. "I fell short and I believe now, as I have always believed, that it is not enough to simply talk the talk, but rather I must take action to hold myself accountable."

Massa initially denied a report that an ethics investigation had been launched on Wednesday as he announced he would not run for re-election, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office said that evening that he knew of the allegation and had pushed for the ethics committee to be informed as well. The panel confirmed the investigation yesterday.

A special election has not been set yet, but if one is held before November, it could come on Sept. 14 when regular primaries will be held. Other states, such as Pennsylvania and Hawaii, are holding special elections on primary days to save the state the cost of holding another election.

As for who is interested in the seat, The Hotline has a quick rundown of the situation:

Before the news of Massa's resignation hit today, candidates were already emerging for the open seat contest. The GOPer on the top of the party's wish list -- Monroe Co. Exec. Maggie Brooks (R) -- appears ready to make a decision within the week. If she doesn't run, there are a bevy of legislators ready to jump into the contest.

But Corning Mayor Tom Reed (R) has been in the race for months, and appears loathe to exit. (For more, check out our earlier coverage of the emerging GOP field)

On the Dem side, Massa's pick appears to be Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan (D), but he has yet to decide on a bid. Assemb. David Koon (D), though, has told county chairs he'll run. And several other legislators are also taking a look at the contest.

Hoyer Confirms Massa Ethics Charge

Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) denied yesterday that reported ethics charges factored into his decision not to run for a second term in Congress this year, citing a third recurrence of cancer and doctor recommendations that he slow down. In a short statement to reporters over a conference call yesterday, Massa said articles referring to the rumors were "unsubstantiated without fact or backing."

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office confirmed last night that the charges do exist and that he knew about it.

Here is the statement from Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant:

"The week of February 8th, a member of Rep. Massa's staff brought to the attention of Mr. Hoyer's staff allegations of misconduct that had been made against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer's staff immediately informed him of what they had been told. Mr. Hoyer instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so. Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa's staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations. Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of Members was immediately involved to determine the facts."

Politico reported yesterday that the ethics charges dealt with allegations Massa "made unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer."

Massa Denies Harassment Charges

In a two-and-a-half minute statement to dozens of reporters on a conference call this afternoon, Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) denied that harassment charges led him to his decision to not seek re-election to a second term this year. Massa said he was "briefly hospitalized" in December after "a third major cancer reoccurrence scare."

"I'm a very salty guy. I'm a very direct guy. And I run about a hundred miles an hour. And my doctors have made it clear to me that I can no longer do that," he said.

Massa directly attacked blogs that helped spread a rumor that he was resigning because of a sexual harassment charge against him, which Politico reported earlier this afternoon.

"Do I or have I ever used salty language when I'm angry, especially in the privacy of my inner office or even at home? Yes I have, and I have apologized to those where it's appropriate," he said. "But those kinds of articles -- unsubstantiated without fact or backing -- are a symptom of what's wrong with this city."

Rep. Massa (D-NY) Not Running For Re-Election

Freshman Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) will not run for re-election this year, the New York Daily News reports. Massa ousted two-term Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) in 2008 by just 5,000 votes after losing to Kuhl two years earlier by 6,000 votes.

Massa is expected to announce his decision in a 3:30 p.m. conference call with the press. Politico reports Massa will resign amid allegations that he sexually harrassed a male aide.

The 29th District was George W. Bush's best-performing congressional district in New York in 2000 and 2004, and one of four districts in the state to go for John McCain in 2008. McCain won the district by fewer than 7,000 votes.

The boot-shaped district takes up a large chunk of western New York.

Lookin' Kuhl In NY

While upstate New York Republicans are struggling in several districts, at least one incumbent could be safe come November, a poll conducted in late January shows. Facing the same opponent who came within 6,000 votes of pulling a stunning upset in 2006, Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl looks to be in much better position this year.

The survey, taken 1/27-28 of 300 likely voters, was conducted by the GOP firm McLaughlin & Associates for Kuhl's campaign. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5.7%. Kuhl and Eric Massa, a former aide to General Wesley Clark, were tested. The sample was 46% Republican, 34% Democratic and 20% independent or other, smaller parties.

General Election Matchup
Kuhl 46
Massa 26

Kuhl's favorable rating is probably not where he wants it to be -- 47% said they had a favorable impression of him, while 33% viewed him unfavorably. But Massa's numbers are anemic, with just 20% saying they view him favorably compared with 17% who see him unfavorably. Aiding Kuhl in November, John McCain led Hillary Clinton in trial heats in the district by 11 points; President Bush won the seat in 2004 by 14 points and in 2000 by 10.

Kuhl faces a fundraising gap, though, having raised $627,000 to Massa's $898,000 by the end of March. Massa had $565,000 left over, while Kuhl held just $365,000 in reserve. Massa has won attention lately for helping spearhead a group of Democratic challengers who are promising to make Iraq a central part of their campaign.

Empire State Republicans outside New York City lost three Congressional seats in 2006, when Reps. Sue Kelly and John Sweeney lost to Democrats John Hall and Kirsten Gillibrand, respectively, and when Democrat Mike Arcuri took over for retiring Republican Sherwood Boehlert. This year, Republican Reps. Jim Walsh and Tom Reynolds are retiring after close calls in 2006, giving Democrats two more opportunities to take over seats. But as upstate Republicans reel from retirements, forced and otherwise, Kuhl's big early lead could prove at least one point of optimism heading into November.