New York's 29th congressional district election, 2006
|Elections in New York State|
March to the Primaries
Freshman incumbent Randy Kuhl (R) had been elected to Congress with slightly over 50% of the popular vote in a three-way race in 2004. In early 2005, former U.S. Naval officer Eric J.J. Massa, a long-time friend of 2004 presidential candidate General Wesley Clark filed to run as the Democratic candidate. Over the course of the next nine months, Massa overcame numerous challenges in his attempt to become the Democratic nominee, including candidate David Nachbar, who days after his announcement chose to step down due to an improper filing of his papers. By April 2006, Massa had secured the support of all Democratic county committees and become the presumptive Democratic candidate for the District.
In March 2006, President George W. Bush visited the district, as a chance to promote his new prescription-drug plan, Medicare Part D. It was considered more of a public-relations boost for Kuhl's re-election campaign than instructive on the issues.
In September 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney also made a fundraising appearance in support of Congressman Kuhl's re-election campaign. Massa, in turn, ran a Veterans Fundraiser outside the event in support of the local veterans and VA hospitals.
Horse Race Metrics
Due to the difficulty and the presumptive win by Republicans, neither the Republicans or Democrats poured money into polling in this District.
From polling results in April 2006 by Massa's polsters, Cooper and Secrest, the race was touted was a virtual dead-heat (Kuhl over Massa 43% to 41% +/- 4%). An October 2006 Majority-Watch poll had Massa leading Kuhl 53% to 42%. Cook Political Report rating: Lean Republican. CQPolitics rating: Leans Republican.
Fundraising metrics showed Kuhl with a significant fundraising advantage (over $500K in his campaign account) over Massa. Over the course of the campaign, Massa consistently outraised Kuhl, sometimes to the tune of a very slim margin. As the Foley scandal took hold, Massa and the rest of the Democratic party saw an increase of funds - where Massa raised close to half of his funds in the last five weeks of the campaign - primarily from online donors - spurred on by his online outreach efforts.
On Election night, Congressman Kuhl had garnered 52% of the vote, Massa 48% of the vote. On Election night, Massa chose to request a recount and an accounting of absentee ballots due the fact that 6000 votes separated the two and 10K were left to be counted. After a week of waiting, the ballots were approximately even and Congressman Kuhl was re-elected. Massa conceded the election with a telephone call to Congressman Kuhl.
A native of the 29th District, Congressman Randy Kuhl has lived in the area all of his life. The son of a doctor and a nurse/teacher, Randy was born in Bath, picked grapes and worked inside the wineries on the shores of Keuka Lake, attended school in Hammondsport, had summer jobs in construction and on several different farms during his college years. He owned and operated a business in Bath, became Steuben County attorney, then successfully ran for the New York State Assembly in 1980, the New York State Senate in 1986, and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 where he now serves and represents the people of the 29th District.
Randy Kuhl is a graduate of Hammondsport Central School, and earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Union College (1966), and in 1969 received his Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law. He is a communicant of St. James Episcopal Church and has been active in the Hammondsport Rotary Club and BPOE 1547 in Bath. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Five Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Branchport Rod and Gun Club, and the Executive Committee of the Steuben County Republican Committee. He is President of the Board of Directors of the Reginald Wood Scouting Memorial and an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology.
Randy Kuhl is currently unmarried and lives in Hammondsport as the father of three sons.
Eric Massa was the Democratic nominee. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and went on to serve in the Navy for 24 years. He eventually served as aide to former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark. Near the end of his Navy career he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease he was able to survive. A former Republican, he claims he left his party over the issue of the Iraq War and campaigned in New Hampshire during the campaign of his former-boss, Wesley Clark's, failed presidential bid.
During the campaign, Massa positioned himself as strongly opposed to the Iraq war and unrestricted "free trade," favoring instead "fair trade". Other issues in his platform included expanding farm aid programs, as well as bringing homeland security money to the 29th District. Massa is also active in Band of Brothers/Veterans for a Secure America whose goal is to help veterans who are running for Congress as Democrats.
Massa continued to blog on progressive sites and planned on launching his own blog, 29th United, but never achieved this goal.
Massa currently lives in Corning, New York with his wife Beverly, daughter Alexandra and son Justin. His other son Sean lives in California.