February 15, 2012

Rep. Hinchey Aide Announces Congressional Run to Replace Boss

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Dan Lamb, a legislative aide for Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), announced  Tuesday night that he will run to replace his boss, who represents New York State’s 22nd Congressional District. Hinchey, who is currently serving his 10th term in Congress, announced in January that he will not seek reelection in the fall.

Ithaca attorney Leslie Danks Burke also announced her candidacy for the seat on Feb. 8, and Tompkins County Legislator Nathan Shinagawa ’05, M.A. ’09 (D-4th District) said he is considering entering the race, The Sun reported last week.

Lamb, who currently manages Hinchey’s Ithaca and Binghamton offices, has served as an advisor to Hinchey since 1998.

“I worked for [Hinchey] for 14 years,” Lamb said. “I actually also worked on his very first Congressional campaign in ’92, prior to going to grad school.”

Lamb called Hinchey “one of my heroes” and said that he is lucky to have had him as a mentor. Lamb said that he approached Hinchey for his advice after the Congressman announced his plans to retire.

“[Hinchey] said, ‘I think you’re ready to do this, you’ve done a lot of very important work for me, you know the region and nobody’s going to be in a better position to do this,” Lamb said.

Lamb cited his work with Hinchey on hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking” — a controversial method of extracting natural gas by injecting water and chemicals into the ground. Lamb said his goal is to ensure that the practice is “scientifically sound” and does not pose a risk to public health or to the environment before its use is accepted.

“There is some very important research coming out of Cornell University that I think needs some more attention,” Lamb said. “It’s not as rosy as the industry would like us to believe it is.”

As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, New York will elect 27 representatives in the fall, two fewer than in previous years. According to Lamb, the state must reapportion its districts to accommodate for this two-seat loss. Therefore, this year, New York Congressional campaigns will be held in a shorter time frame because many prospective candidates will wait to declare their candidacy until the redistricting process is complete, Lamb said.

The Democratic primary for the 22nd District seat will occur on June 26. While Shinagawa has said he is confident he will be able to raise enough money if he announces his candidacy, Lamb said he felt he needed to begin on his campaign.

“People like me just can’t wait … we have to go ahead in this truncated election season without knowing exactly where the lines are going to be drawn,” he said. “An immediate concern of mine is making sure I inform … as many people as possible. Voter participation is essential.”

George Phillips, a teacher who lost his 2010 bid for the seat to Hinchey, and Tom Engel, a former U.S. attorney in New York’s Southern District, have announced they will run for the Republican nomination.

Lamb said he started thinking about running for office in mid-January, after Hinchey announced he would not seek reelection.

“[Hinchey’s] retirement made me consider what I love about this work and I want to continue … his legacy of representing the people of this district in the House of Representatives,” Lamb said. “One of the things [Hinchey] taught me was that you do this to serve the people. This isn’t about the glamour of going to Washington.”

Original Author: Rebecca Harris