New York state's congressional delegation could see huge changes in the midterm elections. A virtual purge of Democrats is quite possible, with as many as 11 seats changing hands.
New York is traditionally a late-deciding state because of the high cost of media and the late primaries, so these races are coming into focus only now.
The key question: Will the absurd state of the governor's race depress the "change" vote, or will New Yorkers opt to send a message further down the ticket?
Here are the 11 possible GOP pickups in the House:
- Hall versus Hayworth: In the 19th Congressional District (Westchester, Putnam, Orange), Republican Nan Hayworth, an ophthalmologist, is in a statistical tie with Rep. John Hall in the latest Monmouth University poll. Hall, a movement radical/singer (Orleans) who won in reaction to the Iraq war in 2006, has toed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's line ever since.
- Bishop versus Altschuler: In the 1st Congressional District (Eastern Suffolk), Rep. Tim Bishop is behind Republican Randy Altschuler 42-40 in the latest McLaughlin poll. A defeat of Bishop, a long-term incumbent, would send shock waves through the state's delegation.
- McCarthy versus Becker: In the 17th Congressional District (Nassau/Suffolk), Republican Fran Becker trails Carolyn McCarthy by just a point (46-45) in McLaughlin's most recent poll. McCarthy, elected in the 1990s on an anti-gun platform in the wake of her husband's murder on the LIRR, is among the most reliable supporters of taxes and spending, and she's tainted by donations from lobbyists recently indicted in the PMA "pay to play" earmarking scandal.
- Israel versus Gomez: In the 2nd Congressional District (Suffolk), Republican John Gomez is waging an aggressive campaign against Rep. Steve Israel. While no polling is available, the strong showings of Altschuler and Becker in the nearby districts raise the odds that Israel, one of the most liberal House members, can be beaten.
- McMahon versus Grimm: Rep. Mike McMahon, the liberal Democratic incumbent in the 13th District (Staten Island and Brooklyn), shot himself in the foot when his campaign released a list of "Jewish" donors who'd given to Republican Mike Grimm's campaign. Now Grimm has a good shot at McMahon in this traditionally GOP seat.
- Arcuri v. Hanna: Republican Richard Hanna leads Democratic Rep. Mike Arcuri by 46-43 in the latest McLaughlin poll. The 24th District spans much of central New York, including Geneva, Cortland, Oneonta, Rome and Utica. Arcuri cooked his own goose by backing the Pelosi agenda 91 percent of the time.
- Hinchey versus Phillips: Longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey finds himself in deep trouble after a video surfaced of him putting his hands around the neck of Kingston Daily Freeman reporter William Kimble during a heated confrontation recently before a League of Women's Voters debate in Saugerties. The 22nd District includes Binghamton, Kingston, and Ithaca.
- Maffei versus Buerkle: In the 25th CD (Syracuse), Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei is locked in a 40-40 tie with Ann Marie Buerkle, according to the McLaughlin poll. Maffei, long a fixture in local politics, alienated his district by his ardent support for Obamacare.
- Murphy versus Gibson: Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy hopes to win re-election by attacking his Republican challenger Chris Gibson for wanting to repeal ObamaCare. He'd better try something else. A recent poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee has him 2 points behind Gibson. The 20th District runs north from Hudson, skirts Albany, and continues up to Glens Falls.
- Zeller versus Reed: Democrats have pretty much conceded the 29th District (the Southern Tier) to Republican Tom Reed, former mayor of Corning, who has a 14-point lead over Democrat Matt Zeller in the Siena College poll. The race is to fill the seat of Democrat Eric J. Massa, who resigned from Congress last year.
- Owens versus Doheny: Since Democrat Bill Owens narrowly defeated an independent candidate in a special election last year in the 23rd Congressional District, he has been something of an endangered species. Now Republican Matt Doheny is mounting a strong challenge in the district, which includes Plattsburgh and much of the northeastern part of the state.
New Yorkers looking for change can make a huge difference this year — if they turn out to vote.
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann