The nastiness in NY-23 has begun.
No matter how many times we talk about compromise and how we all need to get together to come up with solutions, politics will remain a business whose currency is the attack.
But it's not always on the up and up. Sometimes, people talk to reporters differently than they talk to their base.
Here's what Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said about his Republican opponent Matt Doheny when I asked him late last week:
"I didn't have a reaction," he said. "We're going to continue just to work at being the representative for the 23rd District, talking to the constituents, really working to make sure that we're representing the interests of our constituents, and focused on trying to bring jobs to the district. I think that, to me, is the most important thing and the only thing I should be doing."
But just a few days later, Mr. Owens is calling Mr. Doheny "my far-right millionaire opponent" and slamming him for previous statements he's made about Social Security in a fundraising missive to supporters.
"Unfortunately, while I am fighting for jobs and those affected by the flood damage in northeastern New York, some would rather play politics," Mr. Owens said in a politics-laden fundraising appeal. "If there was any doubt, this week’s announcement from my far-right millionaire opponent, Matt Doheny, should clear it up."
The dig about Mr. Doheny being a millionaire is especially... ahem... rich. Mr. Owens himself reported assets of $1.2 to $2.5 million in 2010 between himself and his wife, Jane.
As far as negativity, Mr. Doheny is no angel this early in the race, either. In a 30-minute interview, he revealed a big part of his (alliterative) strategy: Say the words "Obama and Owens," sprinkle in some references to "failed leadership." Repeat.
Mr. Owens, of course, is constantly calling for compromise and bemoans the partisan tone in Washington.
"Where conversations break down is when you approach the macro," Mr. Owens said in this wonderful story by our Marc Heller. "People walk away from the conversation and you get talking points."
Fair enough. I don't see, though, how Mr. Owens' fundraising email suggesting that Mr. Doheny is a far-right millionaire who doesn't like Social Security is anything but talking points, and how this doesn't contribute to a breakdown in the conversation. Even the conversations politicians have with their own supporters.