It is far off the radar of most Central New Yorkers. A budding race for Congress in the 25th Congressional District. Six months out from Election Day, YNN's Bill Carey says the candidates are focused on messages that may or may not play a role in deciding who wins.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Another day on the trail. Another day of messages.
The democrat incumbent is at a local hospital, citing the approach of Mother's Day as he lists benefits for women in a controversial health care bill.
"Health care reform, though it was for everybody, was particularly important for women," said Representative Dan Maffei.
A few blocks away, the republican challenger is pointing to a new unemployment report. Her message? The multi-billion dollar stimulus bill didn't work and that government needs a new approach.
"We reduce their taxes. We reduce the regulations. Reduce government involvement in their everyday business," said congressional candidate Ann Marie Buerkle.
Health care. The economy. For the democrats, talk of progress. For the republicans, talk of problems.
But in the end, will these messages of the day really have an impact? Or will this race be decided by events far beyond the control of the candidates?
Back in 2006, republican James Walsh thought he would have an easy run against a virtual unknown. But unhappiness with the Iraq war, not an overriding issue at the start of the campaign, nearly cost the republican his seat.
With Walsh gone, republicans hoped popular county lawmaker Dale Sweetland would hold the seat in 2008. This time the prime motivator may have been the wave symbolized by Barack Obama. Voters wanted change and Dan Maffei won in his second try for congress.
Now, two years later, republican Buerkle says her campaign is benefiting from a mood of uncertainty, symbolized this time by the Tea Party movement.
"It's a frustration that we're hearing and, so, it's going to be a combination of both," Buerkle said.
This time, instead of riding a wave, Maffei must try to ride it out.
"If I can do the very best I can and work hard. Get our message out there. Make sure people know how hard I'm working for Central New York and how hard I'm working on issues that challenge us," said Maffei.
Six months out from the election, no one can be sure what things will be like come November and what issue will determine who wins and who loses.