The succession of Ray Meier to fellow Republican Sherwood Boehlert’s seat in the upstate 24th District will mean much more than GOP retention of a seat that increasingly shows up on media lists of seats that could flip party hands and help make Nancy Pelosi speaker.
A “Rep. Ray Meier (R.-N.Y.)” will also be a large upgrade for conservatives. While Boehlert (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 40%) was at best a middle-of-the road Republican (“Don’t call me a liberal!” he’d growl with a wink), the 52-year-old, former Oneida County Executive and State Sen. Meier is a good-as-Goldwater conservative. There are numerous votes one could point to—including on abortion, on which Meier stands foursquare for life—on which a Meier instead of a Boehlert in Congress would make a difference for conservatives.
And what is particularly heartening to Republicans in the 24th District and nationally is that, despite their obvious differences, 24-year incumbent Boehlert has given his blessings to his more conservative friend, putting GOP retention of House control above political philosophy. Meier has wrapped up the Republican nomination without a fight and, for the first time in more than two decades, the GOP nominee in the 24th District also carries the dual ballot line of the New York State Conservative Party.
In fact, the Empire State’s system of multiple parties and fusion voting adds spice to the contest between Mier and his Democratic opponent, Michael Arcuri. As district attorney of Utica, Arcuri lacks the voting record of Meier and thus is less vulnerable to attack on specific stands. However, along with carrying the Democratic banner, Arcuri has the ballot lines of the Independence Party (the New York remnants of the Ross Perot movement) and the new Working Families Party. In accepting the backing of the WFP (and going so far as to address their convention earlier this year), Arcuri has embraced a movement whose platform calls for higher taxes, a moratorium on the death penalty, the issuance of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and marriage between same-sex couples. Meier not only holds the standards of two parties that take polar opposite stands from the WFP on these issues but also has a voting record supporting these stands.
That’s why the case for Ray Meier among conservatives is so compelling in this tough, but very winnable race.