On election day in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Democrat Maurice Hinchey and Republican candidate and lifetime businessman Bob Moppert will conclude their third battle for the local seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The outcome of the race will determine who represents a district which includes Ithaca, Binghamton and much of New York State’s Southern Tier.
Hinchey is a career public servant who has held office in the New York State Assembly from 1974 to 1992, at which point he ran for and won the district’s congressional seat. In Congress, he sits on the House Appropriations Committee.
Hinchey’s record of always voting along Democratic lines during his career in Congress has prompted criticism from Republicans, who say that Hinchey refuses to listen to voices within his district from both sides of the political spectrum.
Bob Moppert, a Binghamton resident and former Regional Economic Director under Governor Pataki, is hoping his business background will impress the district’s voters. In an interview with The Sun, Moppert said that he brings a “myriad of ideas and experience” with respect to economic development.
Specifically, Moppert takes pride in his efforts to keep new technologies and products developed by Cornell University students and researchers within the region. In the past, he says, he has “constantly worked with elected officials” to use local resources to promote local economic growth.”
“I am the only professional economic developer in the race,” he added.
The burden of college tuition costs is an important issue in this race. Dan Ahouse, campaign manager for Hinchey, said that “[Hinchey] is committed to making higher education more affordable for American families.”
He pointed out that Hinchey has spent recent days “fighting” the Republican Party over an education spending bill. Ahouse said that Democrats in Congress are pushing for tax credits to tuition-paying families, low interest loans and direct grants to ease the financial pinch. “Republicans have refused to allow these efforts to be implemented,” he said.
Moppert’s personal experience with tuition costs has prompted him to “vigorously” advocate various loan programs and tax credits.
“I am a guy who took twenty-four years to get through college because I paid for it myself,” he said. He added that “anyone with the desire and skills to get through college should have that chance.”
Hinchey’s voting record in Congress on environmental issues has earned him the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). In the 106th Congress, he received an 87 percent environmental rating from LCV. His vote supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which provides money for federal, state and local agencies to buy public lands for open space and outdoor recreation, along with his role in an amendment to strike anti-environment provisions from the 2000 appropriations bill, have earned him a 2000 environmental rating from LCV of 92 percent.
The last week of the campaign, says Ahouse, has been “frustrating.” Because Congress is still in session, Hinchey has been forced to fly to and from the district to attend events while being present for votes on the House floor. Ahouse said that Hinchey “believes open public discourse is a fundamental aspect of the political process,” and that his duties in Washington have lately limited his ability to speak one-on-one with constituents.
Moppert said he is looking forward to the end of the campaign, which he called “grueling.” He called attention to Hinchey’s unwillingness to listen to all of his constituents, and said he wants to show voters that “when I go to Washington, I’ll work for everyone.” Moppert added that he will have an “intense schedule on each of the remaining campaign days.”
In 1992 and 1994, the two other Hinchey-Moppert contests, Hinchey narrowly edged his Republican opponent by paper-thin margins. In this year’s election, however, sources including Congressional Quarterly and The Washington Post are predicting the race will go safely Democratic. Hinchey won the 1998 election with 62 percent of the vote, the largest of his career.
Archived article by Maison Rippeteau