Last week, the Washington Post ran a story noting Rep. Michael Arcuri (whose district includes Seneca County and parts of Ontario County including Geneva) is among the nation’s most vulnerable Democrats. The Finger Lakes Times consulted local experts, including Iva Deutchman, professor of political science, for their reactions.
In the article, which appeared Friday, April 23, Deutchman is quoted, “This is a pretty centrist district and trends, actually, toward Republican. So the idea that somehow there’s a snarky left in this area is big news to me.”
Deutchman holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University in political science and economics. She is a professor of 20 plus years who has worked on two continents (Australia and North America). Deutchman has a long list of publications in major journals, the latest of which are “Fundamentalist Christians, Raunch Culture and Post-industrial Capitalism,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Summer 2008, and “Five Factions, Two Parties: Caucus Membership in the House of Representatives, 1994- 2002,” Congress and the Presidency, 36:62-84, 2009 (with colleague DeWayne Lucas).
The full article follows.
The Finger Lakes Times
District Dems surprised at Post’s story of waning support for Arcuri
Jim Miller • April 23, 2010
GENEVA – Yesterday’s Washington Post story characterizing Rep. Michael Arcuri as one of Congress’ most vulnerable Democrats, in part because his vote against health care reform could hurt him among liberals, doesn’t quite ring true to Iva Deutchman.
“This is a pretty centrist district and trends, actually, toward Republican,” said Deutchman, a political science professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “So the idea that somehow there’s a snarky left in this area is big news to me.”
Arcuri, whose 24th district includes Seneca County and Geneva, is facing a rematch against 2008 opponent Richard Hanna, who outraised him by $150,000 during the first quarter of this year. The Post noted renewed energy among Republicans, but it also quoted several Cortland County Democrats who said Arcuri’s vote against the health care bill left party activists less enthusiastic about his candidacy.
Locally, Susan Sauvageau, chair of the Seneca Falls Democratic Committee and a member of the Town Board, said she shares their frustration about that vote. She said she’s still happily backing Arcuri but “might yell at him a little” over health care. “If I were giving Mike advice, I would say, ‘There’s no reason to try to be a Republican, because the Republicans, most of them are going to vote for Republicans,'” she said. But she likes Arcuri’s stances on other issues, such as human rights and labor. And he definitely looks better to her than Hanna.
“We’re looking at Michael Arcuri, who has done a lot of things I approve of, versus a Republican candidate who is jumping on all of those ‘party of no’ bandwagons,” Sauvageau said.
But as the Post noted, Republican talking points seem more popular these days than they did during the last election cycle. Potentially making things worse for Arcuri, his vote on health care cost him the support of the Working Families Party, which backed him in 2008 but could nominate a candidate of its own this year, the Post reported.
That could draw off leftwing supporters, tipping the race toward Hanna. “I think that if there really is a challenge on the left to someone like Arcuri, they’re putting a big smile on some Republican’s face,” Deutchman said.
Still, Sauvageau said, discontent among party activists like those quoted in the Post story might not indicate widespread discontent among voters. “I don’t know that it represents Democrats in general [but] it might represent some of us worker bees,” she said.”To be a Democratic official in upstate New York is sometimes difficult, because the Republicans control all of these districts up here – at least they have until recently – and they hand out the money. So we’re used to underdog status, and we tend to be more liberal, probably, than the rank and file Democrats.”
Deutchman agreed. She sees a tough race ahead for Arcuri, but not one of the nation’s toughest. “I think there’s probably a lot of people who are more vulnerable,” she said.
Asked for its response to the Post story, Arcuri’s campaign sent a press release touting his April 15 endorsement by the Cortland County Democratic Committee. In it, committee Chairman Dan Tagliente said Arcuri understands the issues facing the district. “He has been responsive to the needs of the district since he was first elected, and he is always ready to listen to his constituents,” Tagliente said.