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GOP's Retiring Richard Hanna Leaves Open Seat

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Wednesday, 23 Dec 2015 09:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The surprise announcement Monday by Rep. Richard Hanna that he will not seek re-election makes the upstate New York (Utica) lawmaker the 19th Republican U.S. House member to call it quits in 2016.

Although that number is not unusual for retirements of U.S. Representatives as the election year is about to begin, the figure is newsworthy in that more than half of the 19 retirees — seeking another office, resigning (as former Ohio Rep. and Speaker John Boehner did), or simply retiring from politics — came to the House five years ago or less.

Nine of the 19, in fact, are members of the storied “Class of 2010,” the eighty-plus Republicans who gave their party a resounding capture of the House on vows to repeal Obamacare and thwart spending programs of the Democratic president.


The nephew of former Utica Mayor Hanna was somewhat unique among the largely conservative class. The New Yorker is 1 of only 6 Republicans who has not signed the anti-tax pledge of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and is one of only a handful of Republican office-holders to support same sex marriage.

In 2014, he was one of two Republicans who opposed the delay of the budget containing Obamacare and the only GOP member from the Empire State who did not back the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi tragedy.

“Hanna should quit the act and seek the Democratic nomination instead," New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told the Rome (New York) Daily Sentinel in May 2014.

That same year, Hanna’s voting record prompted a strong-but-unsuccessful primary challenge from State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. More than a month before Hanna announced his retirement, Tenney said she was running again.

“Waiting to see what [Hanna] would do to make up my mind is musical chairs and that’s for career politicians,” Tenney told me. Recalling how she never made any plans based on what others would do, the small businesswoman pointed out that she won her first term in the Assembly in 2010 “by unseating the incumbent who was also county Republican chairman. Then I was redistricted into the longest district in the history of New York and I still won.”

With a lifetime rating of 96 percent from the New York Conservative Party, Tenney said she would have voted against the budget bill that was enacted on Friday.

The measure that funds the government is, in her words, “too full of new restrictions that will make it harder to repeal Obamacare. Look, as a small business owner, I can tell you that employers here are being crushed by Obamacare. We’re struggling and this [Omnibus Spending] bill doesn’t help at all.”

Strongly pro-life and a self-styled “constitutionalist,” Tenney is sure to have national backing from conservative groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List that rallied to her in 2014. So far the Republican most discussed as her strongest opponent is Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

He may face a major obstacle, however, from breaking party ranks two years ago to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo over Republican opponent Rob Astorino.

Also mentioned for the GOP nod is state Sen. Joe Griffo of Rome.

After decades of decidedly moderate Republican House members from the 22nd District, the possible nomination of a conservative such as Tenney has Democrats salivating over their prospects for a pickup. State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Oneida County Legislator Dave Gordon, both considered strong campaigners, are reportedly eyeing the Democratic nomination.


“The seat in question has long been a moderate-to-liberal Republican bastion, from [GOP Reps.] Alexander Pirnie [1958-72], Donald Mitchell [1972-82] to Sherwood Boehlert [1982-2006] to Hanna, with Democrat Mike Arcuri [2006-10] thrown in briefly for good measure,” said historian and author David Pietrusza, who knows all things New York.

“But a conservative wind is sweeping upstate. Witness the surprise decision of Democratic Ulster County Executive Mike Hein not to run for [GOP Rep.] Chris Gibson's soon-to-be-vacated seat or Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar winning by 55 points for an open state Senate seat. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino won 7 of the 8 counties comprising New York [District] 22. Richard Hanna may have said he wished to spend time with his family. The higher reality is that he got out while the getting was good.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
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The surprise announcement Monday by Rep. Richard Hanna that he will not seek re-election makes the upstate New York (Utica) lawmaker the 19th Republican U.S. House Member to call it quits in 2016.
GOP, Rep. Richard Hanna, U.S. House, New York
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Wednesday, 23 Dec 2015 09:32 AM
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