At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a website called Gawker posted a story detailing a back-and-forth on Craigslist between Lee and a woman who posted in the “women seeking men” section. Lee identified himself as “Chris Lee,” a Washington lobbyist — the lamest secret identity since Superman fooled Metropolis with a pair of dark-rimmed glasses.
I’m going to buy a lottery ticket this week and play these numbers: 1, 7, 11, 18, 29 and 39. Why? Because Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., is the luckiest guy in Congress, and I want to gravy-train a little of his mojo.
That lottery ticket will be made up of Reed-related numbers: He was born on 11-18-71, he’s 39 and he represents the 29th Congressional District in his state.
What makes Reed so lucky? Two western New York congressmen have resigned in the midst of downright bizarre scandals in the past year, and the affable Reed has benefited from both events. No fault or doing of his own, mind you; he’s merely a fortunate bystander.
You’ve no doubt heard of the most recent resignation — the one involving Republican Chris Lee, or, as he is now known, “the Craigslist congressman.”
Last week, Lee went from up-and-comer to down-and-outer in the amount of time it takes an intellectually challenged apprentice pundit like me to do the Jumble.
At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a website called Gawker posted a story detailing a back-and-forth on Craigslist between Lee and a woman who posted in the “women seeking men” section. Lee identified himself as “Chris Lee,” a Washington lobbyist — the lamest secret identity since Superman fooled Metropolis with a pair of dark-rimmed glasses. Oh, and he forwarded the woman a self-portrait of himself, sans shirt, flexing in front of a mirror.
By 6 p.m. Wednesday, his resignation was being read on the House floor.
This unexpected, scandal-fueled, political self-destruction came just 11 months after the region’s last unexpected, scandal-fueled political self-destruction: the resignation of former Rep. Eric Massa. The Democrat stepped down in March amid allegations he sexually harassed a male staffer. In one of the stranger defenses on record, Massa admitted only to “tickling.”
What does all of this have to do with Tom Reed? Then, like now, he benefited.
Last March, Reed was the underdog — a little-known, one-term ex-mayor running against an incumbent. With Massa’s demise, Reed became the instant front-runner, particularly since district enrollment skews Republican.
Fast-forward to the present. Reed and the rest of the state’s congressional representatives are involved in a political game of musical chairs. New York stands to lose at least one, and perhaps two, of its 29 congressional seats when districts are redrawn following the 2010 Census.
When the music stops, some congressman is going to find himself without a chair. While there is a strong likelihood this would be one of the state’s new faces, among which number Reed, a district without a general-election winner might be even easier pickin’s.
Again, a break for Rep. Reed.
We’re sure the congressman doesn’t view the scandals in such terms — he’s a little classier than that. No tickling parties or e-mailing half-naked photos for himself.
And if you think that’s setting the bar a little low for congressional behavior … well, we would have, too — a year ago.
Messenger managing editor Kevin Frisch’s column, Funny Thing ..., appears each Sunday in the Daily Messenger. Contact him at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.