Incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd) is battling Republican George Phillips in an impassioned race for U.S. Congress that has become significantly closer and more heated over the past month. Phillips’ campaign announced Oct. 20 that an internal GOP poll showed him tied for potential votes with Hinchey.
Such a competitive race has not been seen in recent elections in the 22nd District. Hinchey won a decisive 66 percent of the vote over Phillips in 2008.
“Nobody thought we had a chance against [Hinchey],” Jazz Shaw, Phillips’ press representative, said, noting that the Phillips campaign has received significantly more attention during this election cycle than in 2008.
The economic downturn has shaken the district and affected the race, Shaw said.
“This time, the situation is entirely different,” Shaw said. “The mood of the country and the electorate has changed.”
Michael Morosi, Hinchey’s spokesperson, agreed, highlighting former President Bill Clinton’s experience with economic downturns. Clinton recently endorsed Hinchey at a rally in Binghamton.
“Someone who knows about turning the economy around more than anyone else in the country is supporting [Hinchey],” he said. Morosi emphasized Clinton’s support as a vote of confidence in Hinchey’s ability to help citizens with economic recovery.
Economic issues have come to the forefront in this race, with each candidate espousing his contrasting view of how to best handle the lingering downturn. Morosi emphasized Hinchey’s focus on local job stimulation and criticized Phillips for focusing too much on big business.
“Hinchey is somebody who is working to pass tax cuts for 95 percent of working families, whereas [Phillips] wants tax breaks for big corporations,” Morosi said. “[Hinchey] has been working to create middle-class tax cuts and help businesses grow here in Ithaca and Tompkins County.”
Cornell students are continuing to take interest in the election. Issues like hydrofracking and tax policy that affect the economics of the Ithaca region are hotly debated on campus. Terry Moynihan ’11, president of the Cornell Democrats, rejected a possible victory for Phillips, citing Hinchey’s track record.
“[Hinchey] has been great to the residents of Ithaca and the people in the rest of the district,” Moynihan said.
Peter Bouris ’12, chair of the Cornell College Republicans, disagreed, saying that things need to change soon.
“The way the country’s been going for the last 10 years is not going to be sustainable in the long-term,” Bouris said, expressing his preference for Phillips’ stance on economic and foreign policy.
Original Author: Maggie Henry