Last night I had the pleasure in announcing that Ann Marie Buerkle, Republican running for NY's 25th Congressional District, would join the "Mama Grizzlies" with an endorsement from Sarah Palin. I had intended on doing an in depth analysis of what the endorsements means, but waited patiently for the Dan Maffei response.
This morning, the Post-Standard reported from the Maffei campaign and released the following statement:
The Maffei campaign said Buerkle will find out that Palin is out of touch with most Central New Yorkers.
"I think the fact that Ann Marie Buerkle is throwing in her lot with the Sarah Palin-Tea Party wing of the Republican Party will tell voters here all they need to know about her," said Dan McNally, speaking for the campaign.
"Sarah Palin and her Tea Party supporters have a clear idea of where they want to take this country, but I don't think most voters here in Central and Western New York share that viewpoint," McNally said.
He added that voters in the 25th District, including Republicans, "want to move away from Sarah Palin-style partisan politics and just focus on coming up with real solutions to the real problems we're facing."
Maffei's response was typical given a June NBC/WSJ poll that found that a Palin endorsement was viewed unfavorably by a national audience. Those polled disfavored a Palin endorsement 2 to 1. However remember, this is a national poll. The real question is "do the voters of NY-25 dislike Sarah Palin?"
That is a more difficult question. One that Dan Maffei might want to answer before giving such a knee-jerk response. The conventional political wisdom of NY-25 is that it is a blue district. The Cook Political Report rates the district D +3 in their Partisan Voter Index. However, the Palin endorsement does not breed in a static political environment. The same June NBC/WSJ poll I mentioned above had more to say about Dan Maffei than Sarah Palin. According to the poll, respondents disfavored those who voted for the stimulus by 46 to 39 and those who voted for health care reform 50 to 39. Both bills were ardently supported by Congressman Maffei.
The other question is whether or not Sarah Palin is truly toxic in NY-25. The evidence suggests this might not be the case. Sarah Palin visited Auburn, one of NY-25's population centers. Below is coverage from the Post-Standard in regards to the event:
The crowd greeted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with cheers and applause as she hoped out of her SUV and climbed in the back of a 1959 Cadlilac to start the Founder's Day parade today in Auburn.
Palin was the star attraction, and she didn't disappoint, waving to the crowd and posing for photos with two Auburn firefighters just before the parade began.
"She's really a lot cuter than on TV," said Anita Petrosino of Auburn
Petrosino was there to see her two granddaughters march in the parade.
The sidewalks were jammed nearly shoulder-to-shoulder in many places along Genesee Street as on-lookers jockeyed to get a glimpse of Palin, her husband, Todd, and daughter, Willow. At one point, the trio got out of the car to walk along the parade route.
Palin waved and smiled, connecting with the crowd and acknowledging their cheers.
"See you in four years," Art Carnicelli shouted, catching Palin's attention as her car passed by. She smiled, then saw Carnicelli had a Palin T-shirt on and shouted back: "I like your T-shirt."
Farther down the parade route, Bill Lee of Auburn shouted, "Glad you made it," to which Palin replied, "Thank you. We love it here."
It is important to note that this was the local response at a time where Palin's approval ratings were polling at their worst. They've since improved.
I had the opportunity to watch Dan Maffei march in a Fourth of July parade in Irondequoit, it was hardly the site described above. That is until Maffei left the parade and the war veterans marched past. Palin certainly polarizes, but she also boosts enthusiasm. The endorsement is also likely to help Ann Marie Buerkle's fundraising efforts. Both developments would be welcome additions to the Buerkle campaign.
Only time will tell the effect a Palin endorsement will have on Ms. Buerkle's campaign. However, I'm willing to make a friendly bet that Maffei is more out of touch with his district's voters than a woman from Wasilla, AK and I'm sure the voters know it too.
Correction: A reader points out the Auburn is not in NY-25. In fact it is just outside NY-25 in Mike Arcuri's district in NY-24.