Facing some new voters, U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, must fend off a challenge from within his party before he can run for his second term for the newly drawn 22nd Congressional District in November.
The GOP challenge comes from Tea Party activist Michael Kicinski of Earlville. Hanna and Kicinski will compete for the Republican nominations in a primary on June 26. The winner will face Democratic candidate Dan Lamb of Dryden in the general election on Nov. 6. The election is for the seat representing the former 24th Congressional District, which has been reshaped and renamed the 22nd Congressional District.
Kicinski did not respond to interview requests for this story.
The district was redrawn because the 2010 U.S. Census required New York to give up two House seats, from 29 to 27, to reflect the shift in the country’s population. In March, federal judges finalized the state’s redistricting after legislators failed to agree on earlier versions.
The former 24th Congressional District included Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer and Seneca Counties and parts of Broome, Cayuga, Oneida, Ontario, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties. Its voter enrollment from last November favored the GOP. The district had 393,232 total registered voters. Of that, the GOP had 39 percent — or 153,826 voters — and the Democratic Party had 34 percent — or 132,440. Another 5 percent — or 21,191 — were registered with the Independence party, which endorses Hanna. Unaffiliated voters made up 20 percent — or 76,834 — of that total.
The newly drawn 22nd Congressional District loses its contorted U-shape and runs along many existing county lines. It includes Cortland, Chenango, Madison Oneida and parts of Oswego, Herkimer, Tioga and nearly all of Broome Counties. Also in the new district are the cities of Binghamton and Eaton. Under these new boundaries, a total active voter enrollment of 404,901 bumped the Republican advantage to 41percent — or 165,909 voters, according to a New York State Board of Election report released on Apr. 1. Democrats were represented by 33 percent — or 132,074– and again 5 percent — or 22,129 — were registered with the Independence party. Unaffiliated voters make up 18 percent — or 74,489 — of that total.
Richard Hanna (Incumbent, Republican)
Hanna, is the single-term incumbent of the 24th Congressional District. In 2008, Hanna lost by a narrow margin to Democrat Michael Arcuri. But Hanna won the rematch in 2010, when a wave of Republicans took over seats in Congress.
In his quest for a second term, Hanna is emphasizing the economy, according to his campaign spokeperson Jennifer Battista. “Richard Hanna remains focused on job creation throughout upstate New York,” Battista said.
Hanna owns a construction business and runs as an independent-minded Republican. He has refused to sign an anti-tax pledge created by Grover Norquist of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform. In the New Hampshire GOP primary, Hanna also gave former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, also known for being independent, his first endorsement from a member of Congress.
Since Hanna took office, he has voted against his party on women’s issues, civil unions and the privatization of Social Security. Despite those exceptions, Hanna voted with his party more than 85-percent of the time according to a voting record database maintained by Open Congress, a non-partisan organization that promotes government transparency.
Hanna serves on three Congressional committees: Transportation and Infrastructure, Education and the Workforce, and Small Business.
Michael Kicinski (primary challenger, Republican)
Michael Kicinski of Earlville is a Norwich Tea Party Patriots member. Kicinski is an electronics engineer, father of 12 and attends Holmesville Baptist Church in South New Berlin, according to his campaign website.
Kicinski is running to reduce the national debt, according to his campaign website.
Dan Lamb (challenger, Democrat)
Lamb has worked as a senior aide for U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, for 14 years. Hinchey, has held the old 22nd Congressional District since 2003 and is retiring.
As the Democratic candidate, Lamb credits the shape of the new district for motivating his run for office. “The redistricting process created a district that I am very comfortable running in. It’s a good fit for me,” Lamb said by email.
He lives in Freeville.
(M. T. Elliott is a graduate student in magazine, newspaper and online journalism.)