Grant Reeher

Host, The Campbell Conversations

Grant Reeher is Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and a professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  He is also creator, host and program director of “The Campbell Conversations” on WRVO, a weekly regional public affairs program featuring extended in-depth interviews with regional and national writers, politicians, activists, public officials, and business professionals. 

Grant’s research and teaching interests are primarily in American politics and political theory, with an emphasis on legislative politics, democratic representation, and active citizenship.  Among other books, he is the author of First Person Political:  Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service (2006), Narratives of Justice: Legislators’ Beliefs about Distributive Fairness (1996), co-author of Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action (2002), and co-editor of The Trusted Leader:  Building the Relationships that Make Government Work (2008, 2nd ed. 2012).  His academic journal publications include pieces in Health Affairs; Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law; The Responsive Community; Polity; and PS:  Political Science and Politics.  He has also published many editorial essays on various political topics, including pieces in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Ottawa Citizen, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and pieces that have been distributed through Knight-Ridder. 

At various points he has been a regular columnist for The Syracuse Post-Standard.  He has also been quoted in many newspaper stories, including pieces appearing in The New York Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, Salon, Newsday, and Roll Call.  In 2008, he co-founded CNYSpeaks, a deliberative public engagement initiative dedicated to providing residents of the Central New York region with opportunities to have a meaningful and constructive voice about issues affecting their lives.  Grant is a 1982 graduate of Dartmouth College, and earned his Ph.D. in 1992 from Yale University.

Grant Reeher's Blog: Reeher Window


Ways to Connect

How did avowed socialist Jeremy Corbyn recently win election as Labour Leader in Britain, on an anti-war, pro-refugee platform?  Are there lessons from that election which might apply to the U.S., and to the presidential run of Bernie Sanders?  Are these rumblings of potentially more far-reaching political revolutions in the West?  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher explores those questions with Jon Trickett, the first Member of Parliament to nominate Corbyn for Leader, and now one of his closest advisors.  

Many political observers have expressed deep concerns about how America’s response to the threat of terror has affected our democracy, and the rights that secure it.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Cornell professor Sidney Tarrow, who has written a new book that takes an expansive, historical look at how war, state authority, and democracy interact.  They explore the effects of the creation of a new American “security state” post 9-11, what lessons we might draw from other nations’ past experiences, and what’s different about our current situation. 

Local elections were held around the country last Tuesday, and while the Syracuse region did not contain the drama of the Kentucky governor’s race or the Houston equal rights ordinance, there were nonetheless some local results of note, and some tea leaves embedded in the details of expected outcomes.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher mines those with two local political reporters, Teri Weaver of the Syracuse Post-Standard and Ellen Abbot of WRVO Public Media. 

File photos / WRVO News

Offices like city auditor are essential for good governance, yet they tend to received very little attention.  In their only joint media appearance, host Grant Reeher questions the two candidates for Syracuse City Auditor, Democrat incumbent Marty Masterpole and Green Party challenger Howie Hawkins.  They debate whether the office has engaged in enough audits, audits of appropriate significance, the quality of the office staff, and the role that the office plays in trying to address the challenges facing the city.

The Onondaga Nation occupies a unique place among the many groups making up an increasingly diverse Central New York--it's the oldest and most traditional of all peoples, still governed through processes handed down for centuries.  How does the Nation fit with these other newer groups?  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with Joe Heath, the general counsel of the Nation since 1982.  They discuss that topic, as well as land claims and how the Onondaga fit with the other Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

The problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been widely reported.  But for a long time, there was just one journalistic voice crying in the wilderness, the National Catholic Reporter.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Tom Fox, editor of the publication during those early years of exposure.  They explore the experience of trying to cover the problem when others wouldn’t touch it, and how it is being dealt with today.  They also discuss the worldwide phenomenon of Pope Francis.

The departure of State Assemblyman Sam Roberts for a cabinet post in state government created the need for a special election this November.  Two of the candidates vying for the 128th district seat are Democrat Pamela Hunter, a Syracuse Common Councilor and Republican John Sharon, an attorney.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, the two share their views on Syracuse's poverty problem, the proposed increase in the minimum wage, the Common Core, and I-81, among other topics. 

Congressman John Katko has tried to position himself as a moderate within the Congressional Republican Party.  One local Democrat who’s not convinced about this is Eric Kingson, the Syracuse University professor recently announced his candidacy for Katko's 24th district seat.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democratic challenger, and explores his views about Katko’s voting record, and Kingson’s own plans for expanding the Social Security program. 

Note: This conversation took place before House Speaker John Boehner announced his intention to resign from Congress at the end of October.

This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher is joined by first-term Congressman John Katko, who represents central New York’s 24th district.  The wide-ranging discussion covers the funding for Planned Parenthood, poverty in Syracuse, Katko’s effort to be moderate and bi-partisan, his campaign support from the Republican Party’s Patriot Program, and the Republican presidential field.

Note: This interview was recorded before Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of October.

Last time on the Campbell Conversations, we heard from the North Country's first-term Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.  This week, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democrat who wants to unseat her in 2016, retired Army Colonel Mike Derrick.  Derrick is getting an early start and is trying to build what he calls "a start-up" campaign.  Their conversation probes for the most important differences between the two likely candidates in the general election, and Derrick's reasons

Elise Stefanik, New York's first-term congressional representative for the North Country's 21st district, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.  At issue in her campaign last year was just how moderate the young Republican would be when she reached the chamber.  Host Grant Reeher talks with her about her record so far, what she views as her most important accomplishments, and how well Congress is currently functioning. 

The synthetic marijuana problem has been particularly severe in Syracuse. The drug even got its own name here:  Spike.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Steve Featherstone, a journalist who has recently written a piece on the drug for the New York Times Magazine.  The two discuss what Spike is, the reasons for its appeal among users, its dangers, and why it’s so hard for law enforcement to combat and control it. 

This week on the Campbell Conversations, the discussion returns to millennials—how are their lives and views different from the generations that have preceded them, especially the Baby Boomers?  Are these differences permanent, or will millennials begin to act and think like previous generations as they age?  Host Grant Reeher talks with Paul Taylor, author of The Next America:  Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Show

Missing from the Campbell Conversations recent series on poverty was a discussion focused on rural poverty.  In this edition of the program, host Grant Reeher fills that gap with a conservation with Lindy Glennon, director of the Cortland County Community Action Program.  They discuss the particular challenges and prejudices facing rural poor people, and how best to help them.

The Republican party has a demographics problem, which extends beyond Donald Trump's recent comments on immigration. Front and center in this problem is the party's appeal among millenial voters. This week, host Grant Reeher speaks with Kristin Soltis Anderson, a republican pollster and author of "The Selfie Vote."

As an entertainment franchise, the Syracuse Chiefs, Syracuse’s Triple-A professional baseball team, are in a challenging situation—trying to generate attendance and fan loyalty when the performance of the team is a byproduct of the decisions made by its parent organization, the Washington Nationals.  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol about dealing with that challenge, and others, including finances.  We also learn what a cowboy monkey is. 

Baldomero Fernandez

  What has been the role, not of liberalism, but of the genuine Left, in recent American politics?  What is its agenda, and its future?  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with The Nation's editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, on the magazine's 150th anniversary.  They cover domestic politics and policy, inequality, and America's role in the world.  They also look at the curre

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with the internationally acclaimed Oneida Nation singer and songwriter Joanne Shenandoah.  They discuss music, peacemaking, and politics, as well as her recent work to reduce violence among Native American children.  Their political conversation touches upon the tensions among the Nations of the Iroquois when it comes to policies like casino gambling. 

State Sen. John DeFrancisco is Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and was involved in the leadership battle in the Senate when former leader Dean Skelos resigned as Majority Leader after being arrested on federal corruption charges. DeFrancisco ultimately lost the leadership role to Long Island Sen. John Flanagan. On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, DeFrancisco speaks with host Grant Reeher about this year's state budget and legislative agenda, the current state of affairs in Albany, the issue of upstate versus downstate, and more. 

Matt Zeller

For eight months in 2008, Matt Zeller was an Army Lieutenant acting as an embedded trainer with Afghan security forces in the Ghazni Province.  Following that, he was a CIA analyst, ran for Congress, and authored a book about his war experiences.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, he speaks in powerful and unvarnished terms about his time in Afghanistan, his struggles upon his return to the States, and the shortcomings of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Note: This broadcast originally aired in February 2013.

Le Moyne College has recently been through a couple of controversies lately, first about incidents related to its annual "Dolphy Day" student celebration, and then over its choice of Cardinal Timothy Dolan as its graduation speaker.  

When women run for office, they face closer and more negative scrutiny from the media, are more likely to get damaging coverage based on how they look and what they wear, and face other gender-based challenges, such as voter prejudice and difficulties raising money.  All sound true?  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with George Washington University Professor Danny Hayes, who argues that the evidence from congressional elections does not support these assumptions commonly made by both political observers and political scientists. 

Part 1 of the interview:

As a broadcast journalist working for CBS and CNN, Kristina Borjesson experienced first-hand corporate push-back and retaliation for her investigative work on the crash of TWA Flight 800.  But she channeled that experience into two books, which draw out other prominent media figures to share their own experiences of corporate and government censorship.  This week on the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher engages Borjesson in a provocative discussion of the books and the issues they raise.

Part two of the interview:

Five years after its passage, Obamacare still generates heated political arguments, and is exhibit A of the political polarization in Washington.  As the presidential election cycle begins to gear up, we will no doubt re-debate the law.  Just how successful has it been?  Is it achieving its objectives?  As a policy change, what have been its greatest challenges?  

The New York State budget process was different this year than years past. There was a new “man in the room,” and there were many significant policy proposals attached to it; some were incorporated and some were tabled for later consideration.  On this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher breaks down that process with State Senator Dave Valesky, who argues that the process was actually better in many ways.  Valesky also comments on his Independent Democratic Conference, its new role in the Senate, and its future prospects. 

How is the Syracuse region doing with the vitality of its wildlife and the health of its outdoor sports industries?  Has the winter had an impact?  And what can be done about the city's growing problem with deer?  On this week's episode of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher explores those questions with David Figura, the outdoors writer for The Post-Standard and  They also discuss life for sportspersons post-SAFE Act, and Figura's new book about men dealing with middle age, 

Rob Simpson heads CenterState CEO, the region's principal business development non-profit organization, and he also co-chairs the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council.  In this episode of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher engages Simpson on the economic development debates currently circulating in the Syracuse region, and the prospects for recapturing economic vibrancy.

The Throwaways is a documentary film featuring a formerly incarcerated homeless man, Ira McKinley, and his struggles to reintegrate into and also change his local community in Albany, New York.  He was joined on the film by local independent filmmaker Bhawin Suchak, the founder of YouthFX in Albany.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher discusses the film's making and purpose with the two collaborators. 

Last December, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse hired a new executive director, Elizabeth Dunbar.  She inherited a difficult financial situation, and has been serving double duty as the museum's temporary curator.  Host Grant Reeher engages her in a discussion of the challenges facing the museum, her strategies for renewed financial and artistic vibrancy, and the cultural function of an art museum in a small city. 

If kids spend a lot of time in front of display screens, is it bad for the environment?  Having a visceral connection to the outdoors is key to good environmental stewardship, argues this week’s guest on the Campbell Conversations.  Grant Reeher talks about habitat, species, and politics with Collin O’Mara, the current President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. O’Mara is a former Delaware state cabinet official, a native of Camillus, New York, and the inventor of the City of Syracuse’s Syrastat system.