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“There’s a record there, and the record is very clear and not in step with the district, even moderates and a lot of Republicans in the district,” Maffei said of Buerkle’s votes.
He said he would emphasize job creation as his “real focus” and alluded that Buerkle had turned her focus to “other issues that don’t improve the economy in upstate New York.”
Buerkle’s campaign will likely focus on jobs and the economy, too. And Maffei has votes of his own, including for the controversial Democratic health care law, that he’ll be forced to defend.
“I stand by my record,” Maffei said. “It was a moderate record and this is a moderate area of the country.”
According to a Congressional Quarterly vote study, Maffei voted with Democrats 94 percent of the time in 2009 and 93 percent of the time in 2010. He voted in favor of the stimulus law and the cap-and-trade bill.
National Democrats crow that Maffei substantially outraised Buerkle in the third quarter, with the former Member pulling in $201,000 to Buerkle’s $89,000. She raised just $65,000 in the first three months of the year, which included a paltry $7,300 from individuals. Buerkle pulled in a more respectable $121,000 in April, May and June fundraising but fell back below the key $100,000 line over the summer.
One upstate Democratic strategist said that, with hard work, Maffei should be able to win back the few hundred votes he lost by in 2010.
“If he gets some help from some very popular elected officials,” the source said, “that could definitely swing the balance.”
But there are a whole host of variables that might change the result this time around: Redistricting may make the race a near foregone conclusion one way or the other, the turnout model will be different in a presidential election year and national trends will play a role, as they did in 2010.
Maffei noted he did better in regions closer to his home and “the further away you got from our area, people were more influenced by national events and trends,” he said.
“We really were, unfortunately, on the edge of this wave. And when you’re the last person cut off, it’s hard,” Maffei said.
But this time around, it might be hard for his opponent, Buerkle.
“She caught a wave last time,” a New York Republican consultant said. “And that wave may or may not be here for her this year.”