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Heading for the (Syracuse) Campaign Trail

Half the world's press corps is in Beijing, Barack Obama is taking a break in Hawaii and The Fix has just returned from vacation in Argentina. In that same spirit of adventurous and exotic summer travel, Capitol Briefing is heading today to ... Syracuse, N.Y.

Why Syracuse? Because Capitol Briefing wasn't asked to go to any of those other, warmer locales. But he does love to cover congressional campaigns, and there is a fascinating House race underway right now in New York's 25th district, a seat that stretches from Syracuse and its environs west along the shores of Lake Ontario to the outskirts of Rochester.

Rep. Jim Walsh, a well-liked Republican moderate, is retiring after 20 years in the House, and his seat is in serious danger of falling into the Democratic column in November. Ex-House aide Dan Maffei, who barely lost to Walsh in 2006, is the Democratic candidate again, while former Onondaga Legislature Chairman Dale Sweetland will try to keep the seat in GOP hands.

Capitol Briefing will be blogging quite a bit more about this contest over the next few days, and here are some the questions he'll try to answer:

• Why does a seat that's been held by a Republican for the last two decades look likely to go Democratic?

• Alternately, why has a district that's supported Democrats for president in recent years still been electing a Republican to the House?

• What's happened to the GOP brand in New York, and across the Northeast? Are we witnessing a realignment of the entire region?

• Are moderate Republicans like Walsh an endangered species in the House? If so, why?

• What do the voters in the 25th district care about, and how are Sweetland and Maffei working to win their loyalty?

The next time Capitol Briefing posts, he'll be in the comfy environs of a Syracuse airport hotel. He hopes to avoid having dinner tonight at Applebee's, so If you're from "Salt City" or have spent time there, feel free to submit suggestions for where to eat and explore in the comments section below.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 11, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Next: 'Surprises' Await in Tight House Race


Dinosaur BBQ is a must!

Posted by: anon | August 11, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Dinosaur all the way!!

Posted by: Cuse | August 11, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I third that -- Dinosaur BBQ is the best.

Posted by: Amanda | August 11, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

If into Thai, check out lemon grass. French? Check out La Dour.

Posted by: lex silia | August 11, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Take the short drive to Ithaca and the Moosewood.

Posted by: re | August 11, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I second and third L'Adour and also add in Pastabilities in Armory Square. For lunchtime crowds, I would check out Blue Tusk in Armory Square and Stella's Diner. For true Syracuse classics -- Heid's in Liverpool is a hot dog stand for summer night crowds; North Side's (North Salina Street) Little Italy restaurants (Antonio's is the best); and Coleman's Irish Pub on Tipperary Hill.

Posted by: Upstate transplant | August 11, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

After you're bored of Dinosaur BBQ, try Clark's Ale House on Armory Square.

Posted by: Matt | August 11, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping they would draft Randy Dwyer....

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 11, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Dino BBQ is a must, get the ribs. If you ever tire of that, hit up any hole in the wall Italian place, esp in little Italy. there is a great galato place there (i forget the name, but it's on the west side of salina.)

To see: hmmmm, sorry.

what important: a mass exodus of college educated people (myself included), high property taxes that stymies any real estate growth, loss of jobs, perceived growing crime rate

Posted by: dg | August 11, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

For a city its size, downtown Syracuse does offer some nice architectual examples. Also, although a little hike, a trip to Skaneatles is always worthwhile.

Posted by: lex silia | August 12, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

If you're looking for pizza, then Varsity Pizza on the SU hill is a great place to go. On Marshall Street, Acropolis Pizza has pretty good Greek food. All the Armory Square suggestions are good, too.

Oh, and tell people up there to stop complaining about the high taxes being the reason the economy isn't strong- it's a ruse. To prove my point, look at any big city in the U.S. to see what people pay in property taxes there, especially NY, LA, Chicago, etc. People in those cities pay taxes through the nose and those cities don't seem to be struggling the way Syracuse and Upstate NY has. It's the Mentality!

Posted by: rwd | August 12, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

The Darkhorse Restaurant on E.Genessee St in Dewitt is one of the most congenial Syracuse eaterys and a great bar to get opinions on the Congressional race.

Posted by: JGD | August 12, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Doug's Fish Fry in Skaneateles!

Given the depressed economy in the region -- it's depressing just to drive through much of Syracuse -- it's hard for me to believe people there wouldn't vote straight Democratic...

Posted by: WDavidStephenson | August 12, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Rep. Walsh is retiring and the Washington Post will track the election. In the 1990s, local Democrats shied away from challenging Walsh, and if they did, he outspent them. I got ill every 4th of July when he showed up at the Manlius parade. There are lots of Democrats in the suburb cities to change the political landscape.

On eateries, I also recommend Heids and Coleman's.

Posted by: An SU grad | August 12, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Heid's in Liverpool is a must. If you're in Armory Square & want a pint & some good Irish food you should go to Kitty Hoyne's. Friendly staff & excellent pub grub. If you like soda bread you should try it here. It's an old family recipe. If you make it to Oswego on Lake Ontario you have to go to Rudy's. Where else can you get a good Texas hot & have a beautiful view of the lake at sunset?

Posted by: MAS | August 12, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Have a look at the Near West Side Initiative - an urban revitalization project engineered by Syracuse University, which convinced New York State to forgive a $13.8 million debt in return for the University funneling that amount directly into an urban core project based on the arts as a development tool. Contact Marilyn Higgins at SU or the project director, Daniella Moska-Wozniak. Project was supported by long-time arts supporter, State Senator John DeFrancisco (R).

Posted by: Nancy keefe Rhodes | August 12, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

syracuse eats: Antonio's(n.salina st.), aunt josie's(same), retreat, liverpool(good bar if that makes a dif), twin trees 2(solvay, syr best pizza), grimaldi's, casa di compani(burnet ave)all others listed above good bets. if anywhere near auburn, ny- laska's(?)a great bet.
while in area you can watch the f'ball team lose and the b'ball team win. world class salmon/ steelhead fishing in pulaski, ny. some good golfing around. political contact, prof bob green@ cazanovia college.

Posted by: dave fahey | August 13, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

oh yea. camillus, ny GOP politico's. maybe start with the bill bush family. camillius is one of the spiritual homes of the GOP, good background. froggers pizza and wing if still there a good bet for lunch.

Posted by: dave fahey | August 13, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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