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Brighton-Pittsford Post
  • CURT SMITH: Is Brooks snatching defeat from victory?

  • No member of Congress is more ideological than Slaughter. Exposed, her left-wing record would repel the centrist independents Brooks needs to win. If Maggie will not attack it, she deserves to lose — and will.

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  • Maybe pollsters didn’t want to peak too soon. Maybe candidates were putting money into TV. Maybe each campaign is hoarding cash for a rainy day. Whatever, no one had polled New York’s 25th Congressional District six weeks before Election Day.
    Finally, the dam broke with a bang, not a whimper. A Siena College Research Institute survey shows Congresswoman Louise Slaughter beating Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, 52 to 42 percent, balance undecided — a tremor, if not tsunami.
    True to their DNA, Republicans again may be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
    The survey shows Brooks ahead by 10 points west of Rochester — conservative, traditional, suburban-rural. Slaughter fronts by four points east of the city — increasingly secular and liberal — and by four to one in Rochester itself. Two facts tower: Twenty-one percent of Republicans back Slaughter, and Brooks leads among independents, 50-39.
    Maggie’s task is twofold: bring GOPers home, and take undecided independents. Slaughter’s ace is the district’s nine-point (40-31) Democratic registration edge — her approximate margin over Brooks. Louise also gains from Barack Obama’s 14-point poll rout of Mitt Romney. She wants a straight party vote. Maggie doesn’t, pitching pragmatism, not party.
    Brooks is a former radio/TV reporter, county legislator, and county clerk, demolishing Brighton Supervisor Sandra Frankel last fall for county executive on a platform of problem-solving — ironically, presaging Romney. Running for Congress, however, is a different beast: Maggie’s first would-be office involving ideology, not simply policy.
    Brooks, I think, grew complacent this past summer in the season of Slaughter’s discontent. Louise had broken a leg. The old campaigner was 80-something. To many, her ideas — tax and spend, regulation, abortion anytime, and public union dominance — seemed older. She had represented all or part of the county since 1987 — been there, done that. Worse for her, Brooks was a proven vote-getter: centrist, popular, benign.
    For months, Brooks ran a classic front-runner’s campaign: Play it safe, don’t err, you have it made. Since no polls existed, many GOPers assumed she led. Thus, the Siena survey’s shock: How could Brooks have said nothing as Louise ads carpet-bombed her character, associates, and alleged scandals? No response let the assault take a toll: Incredibly, says the poll, Slaughter’s “favorable” rating tops Maggie’s by 23 points.
    Even now, Brooks’s Casper Milquetoast TV ads mime process — “collaborative progress”: she can work with others — instead of content: Louise’s record. Almost every candidate pledges harmony: Hearing it, we thus dismiss it. By contrast, independents, the race’s pivot, hate extremism, right or left. Thus, before announcing for a 14th term Slaughter should have had a fork stuck into her — she was done.
    According to National Journal, the inviolate Bible of Congressional voting, Slaughter was the most liberal 2007-08 member of the entire U.S. Congress. Other years she was a contender — as leftist as Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Maxine Waters. Louise deems Monroe County as radical as their districts in San Francisco, Harvard Yard, and south-central Los Angeles, respectively. Do you?
    Page 2 of 2 - Brooks should ask: Why has Slaughter endorsed the Fairness Doctrine to silence religious and political speech? Why does she support illegal amnesty, earning a zero rating from the U.S. Border Control? Why does Louise back a yearly $1 trillion deficit and “card check” to bully non-union members?
    Why has Slaughter likened the Tea Party — including law-abiding, tax-paying moderates — to the John Birch Society? Why was she among only two House members to oppose a Congressional Gold Medal for the Reverend Billy Graham? Louise blamed staff “confusion." Others suggest bias. Neither recommends re-election.
    No member of Congress is more ideological than Slaughter. Exposed, her left-wing record would repel the centrist independents Brooks needs to win. If Maggie will not attack it, she deserves to lose — and will.
    Curt Smith is the author of 15 books, former speechwriter to President George H.W. Bush, and WYSL Radio Associated Press award-winning “Best in New York State” commentator. Email: curtsmith@netacc.net
     
     
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