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The Times
  • Hanna battling 2 others for 22nd Congressional District

  • As usual, Richard Hanna finds himself in the middle.

    The moderate Republican from Barneveld faces two opponents in his bid for a second Congressional term, representing a district that stretches from Oneida County to Binghamton.

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  •  As usual, Richard Hanna finds himself in the middle.
    The moderate Republican from Barneveld faces two opponents in his bid for a second Congressional term, representing a district that stretches from Oneida County to Binghamton.
    First will be Mike Kicinski, of Earlville, a staunch Tea Partier who feels Hanna has betrayed the conservative ideals. The two will face off during the June 26 GOP primary.
    Next up: The Nov. 6 general election and a challenge from Dan Lamb, a Democrat of Dryden, who spent 15 years working for a far left-leaning congressman before entering the race for the 22nd District.
    And while the campaign has yet to fully take form, experts say the onus is on the challengers to show voters they’re better-suited for the job.
    But there’s a catch: Hanna, R-Barneveld, is a one-term incumbent, which is typically a congressman’s most tenuous re-election challenge.
    “I think Hanna’s in a pretty good position, but he’s new enough to the job that he could be vulnerable to a strong challenge,” said Robert Spitzer, chair of the political science department at SUNY Cortland.
    The Cook Political Report – an eminent nonpartisan journal – rated Hanna’s seat as “Likely Republican,” meaning it is not currently considered competitive but has the potential to be so.
    Hanna currently has a commanding lead in fundraising, with $353,070 in his campaign chest, according to the late-March campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission. His filings show a campaign debt of $554,000, which is money he personally lent to the campaign in 2008.
    Lamb, by contrast, showed $44,990, while Kicinski, did not report having raised anything.
    Each of the candidates, however, said those filings from the campaign’s most nascent stages don’t reflect how much they’ve raised since that time, or will in the future.
    The race has yet to attract much national attention, a stark difference from 2010, when the rematch between Hanna and then-incumbent Democrat Michael Arcuri was considered a bellwether for the national anti-Democrat mood.
    That anticipation was realized when Hanna won 53 percent of the vote against Arcuri, one of 63 GOP seats that were recaptured as the party regained the House majority.
    Lamb’s campaign was highlighted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of 20 “Emerging Races,” which include “candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns which are increasingly becoming competitive.”
    The “Emerging Races” label is actually third on the DCCC’s hierarchy of spotlighted races, behind “Red to Blue” and “Majority Makers.”
    DCCC media personnel could not be reached for comment.
    National Republicans, meanwhile, consider Hanna’s seat to be a relatively safe one, and the candidate a strong fit for the district.
    “Congressman Hanna has proven he’s a truly independent voice,” said Nat Sillin, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “He reflects the values of the district.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The district is a new one – sort of. The 2010 U.S. Census led to new districts across the country, but Hanna’s is roughly the same in geography.
    By at least one standard, it got more Republican. The current district voted 48 percent for John McCain and 52 percent for George W. Bush in the last two presidential elections.
    In the new district, both Bush and McCain would have gained one more percentage point.
    But Lamb pointed out that either way, the district would have swung Democrat four years ago, the last time there was a presidential election.
    Lamb said he’s no stranger to the area – having lived upstate for 24 years – or the nature of its politics. He worked for U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, who is retiring.
    And he said he believes voters will respond to his active, shoe-leather campaign – not to party lines.
    “Voters here are not so tied to political allegiance,” he said. “They want to see people who deliver, who are committed and who work for the right reasons.”
    Kicinski is a member of the Norwich Tea Party Patriots and said he supported Hanna in 2010, along with other Tea Party members across the district.
    But he said they are disillusioned by his stance on abortion – Hanna opposed it personally, but supports a woman’s right to choose – and spending votes such as Hanna’s summer 2011 vote to approve an increase in the debt ceiling after weeks of partisan wrangling.
    Kicinski said he received more than 1,600 signatures to get a place on the Republican primary ballot.
    “He turned his back on us,” Kicinski said. “He failed to live up to his words.”
    But Hanna said that’s not true – and that it would have been “utterly irresponsible” to let the country default on its debt.
    He pointed out his high ratings with conservative organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Rifle Association, and said his district outreach has led to responding to nearly 80,000 letters from constituents and holding nearly 40 public meetings.
    Hanna also said he’s made progress in the congressional hierarchy, including being named vice chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee.
    “That’s all stuff that’s happened in a very short amount of time,” he said. “So we’re making headway and building a lot of respect.”
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