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Dan Hust/Frank Rizzo | Democrat

Democrat incumbent Maurice Hinchey, left, is facing Republican George Phillips for the seat in the U.S. Congress, representing New York State, in our area.

Hinchey’s in the fight of his political life

M. Hinchey runs against G. Phillips

Hinchey stands on his record

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — October 29, 2010 — Congressman Maurice Hinchey is crisscrossing his enormous 22nd District, reminding voters from Ithaca to Poughkeepsie of his years of service in the House of Representatives.
The Democrat’s re-election efforts have taken on a particular urgency with the rise of the Republicans at the national level.
Whether Republican George Phillips’ second attempt to oust the nine-term Congressman will be successful, however, remains uncertain, as Hinchey has enjoyed consistent re-election since 1994.
The 72-year-old Ulster County resident has also recently found success in bringing major projects to Sullivan County.
The $15 million overhaul of the Village of Monticello’s sewer system and a $1.7 million slaughterhouse project in the Village of Liberty have only gotten started because of Hinchey’s involvement, according to a range of officials.
Being a member of the House’s powerful Appropriations Committee, Hinchey has also garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars for local efforts that include Catskill Regional Medical Center’s coming emergency room renovation in Harris.
But he’s also been involved in controversy, recently garnering headlines for allegedly shoving and jabbing a Kingston reporter.
And Phillips’ campaign is all about trying to capture the anti-incumbency mood sweeping the nation.
Hinchey, however, has launched attacks against Phillips, as well, criticizing the Binghamton candidate’s association with Wall Street executives and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads fundraising arm.
“They know that if they help elect him, George Phillips would take their marching orders and advance their interests, since they financed his campaign,” Hinchey charged last week. “George Phillips has already said that he wants to start privatizing Social Security, which would put more taxpayer money in the hands of these same Wall Street executives while jeopardizing the very existence of the program.
“There is a reason these groups and individuals are opposing me,” he continued. “It’s because I’ve spent my entire life fighting against their corporate greed and standing up for the middle class.
“Watching corporate money from outside special interest groups flood the airwaves, along with this latest attempt to secure funding from Wall Street executives, demonstrates quite clearly whose side George Phillips is really on.
“The future of our democracy is at stake in this election,” he added. “We cannot allow this election to be bought by the highest bidder.”
The Congressman has also gotten luminaries like former President Bill Clinton to stump for him.
Hinchey promises that, if re-elected, he’ll continue his commitment to green energy initiatives, like a burgeoning solar plant in Kingston, and to strict regulation of natural gas drilling (he’s a key sponsor of the FRAC Act).
“To me, investing in our communities also means making sure that we keep our air clean and our water safe,” he said earlier this year. “That's why we must make absolutely sure that any drilling for natural gas or oil, especially here in New York's Marcellus Shale, is done so in a safe and proper way.
“Disasters such as the BP Gulf oil spill and recent stories of drinking water contamination in Pennsylvania are prime examples of why oil and gas companies must be held accountable and follow the same rules that protect our drinking water and environment that all other industries must follow.
“After what happened in the Gulf, we simply cannot rely on the oil and gas industry assurances about the safety of their drilling practices. That’s why I’m working for commonsense protections that will help prevent a future disaster.”

'The people have had enough!'

By Frank Rizzo
SULLIVAN COUNTY — When George Phillips visited the Democrat offices recently, he was fresh off of a debate against Congressman Maurice Hinchey the night before in Saugerties.
Calling his Democratic opponents’s answers “rambling and confused,” Phillips added, “I don’t think it went very well for him. I would love to have more debates.”
But if Hinchey and his handlers had given thought to more debates, the performance – including a videotaped confrontation with a reporter beforehand that did not put Hinchey in a favorable light – might have put an end to that.
Phillips would like to send Hinchey, 72, to “a well-earned retirement” after nine terms as representative of the 22nd (formerly the 26th) Congressional District.
Unlike 2008, when Hinchey beat him with over 60 percent of the vote, Phillips senses the race is a lot closer now. He noted that internal polls show him within single digits of the incumbent.
“We feel we have a lot of momentum and support,” Phillips said. “More and more grass roots people are working with us.”
The appearance of “The Big Dog,” Bill Clinton, at a rally for Hinchey in Binghamton on Oct. 11 “was a real plus, exciting for us. [The former president] is only helping Democrats in trouble; he wasn’t stopping by just for a visit.”
Speaking of endorsements, Phillips has been backed by former Governor George Pataki, 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. All three appeared on stage with the Republican hopeful.
With a paid staff of five, Phillips is dependent on area volunteers to put up signs, get out the vote, and smooth his campaign appearances .
Phillips praised Sullivan County GOP Chair Richard Coombe, calling him, “one of the better people I’ve met. He’s been very helpful.”
Though he is “running against Washington,” and what he feels is an irresponsible and runaway spending and deficits, Phillips is no stranger to the nation’s capital and said he “knows how to get things done and will be ready on day one.”
Phillips worked as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. According to his website, “George took a leadership role in working on foreign affairs, business, immigration and senior issues.”
Asked about his basic message to voters, Phillips answered, “Have you had enough with the mess in Washington? We need fresh faces and qualified people.”
“I believe in a more limited government,” noted Phillips, who teaches one morning class on American History at his alma mater, Seton Catholic HS in Binghamton. His students, juniors “are excited, mention they’ve seen my signs… but I try not to mention politics too much in the classroom.”
Phillips has built his campaign on a few major themes, including reform of earmarks, or “pork” and putting the federal government’s spending under more stringent control.
He talks of scouring the budget for waste, consolidating agencies and departments and in general putting the fiscal house in order.
“Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Benefits and programs related to national security should clearly be off the table in terms of cuts, but all other programs need more thorough examination in our budget process,” his website reads.
Yet another major component of his platform is “across the board” tax relief for individuals, corporations and small businesses.
“We’re asking people to take a look at our campaign,” said Phillips, who promised to “be a leader from Day One. I will work across the aisle with the Democrats.
“Our problems are not Republican or Democrat,” Phillips added. “Our problems are ones we all share as Americans.”

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