By Frank Rizzo
SULLIVAN COUNTY When Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s 10th term ends this December 31, his 22nd congressional district may go into retirement with him.
Election Day is a little over eight months from now, but there is little indication if Hinchey’s district will be one of the two in New York State that will be redistricted out of existence. As a result of the 2010 Census, New York lost two congressional seats.
Sullivan County Republican Party Chairman Dick Coombe of Grahamsville said he has not heard anything definite.
“Having lived through redistricting, it will be logical that this seat will be absorbed,” said the former state assemblyman who later served the George W. Bush administration as a regional assistant chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Services, part of the Agriculture Department.
Such an outcome, said Coombe, “will be our loss. It’s important to have a representative from nearby.”
“It’s a definite concern,” said George Phillips of Endwell, a Republican who challenged Hinchey in the 2008 and 2010 races. “Without an incumbent congressman, the district might be altered.”
Phillips is still warmed by the 2010 race, in which he lost the Liberal veteran by six percentage points.
“It was one of the closest and most exciting races in the country,” Phillips related. “Politico (a prominent website) ranked it No. 2 in the country. It was quite a race and people will remember it.”
In the end, said Phillips, Hinchey had to call the “Big Dog” himself, former President Bill Clinton, to help his campaign with an appearance at a Binghamton rally.
Phillips had declared his intent for a third run last fall, before Hinchey announced his retirement. The Endwell schoolteacher was shortly joined as a declared GOP candidate by Tom Engel of Lew Beach (postal address), Ulster County (where his house actually sits) and Delaware County (where most of his property lies).
“I tell people this makes me the ideal candidate for the 22nd district,” Engel joshed of his geographic positioning.
As for his first run for office, Engel commented, “I guess my approach to where the country ought to be going is different from Maurice Hinchey’s.
“I am basically a pro-growth person. I’m not a politician. I’m a former federal prosecutor, a longtime small business owner and a concerned citizen,” added Engel, a lawyer in a New York City firm.
Engel formed an exploratory committee last spring and created an election committee in October.
Engel said he agreed from a strictly constitutional viewpoint with the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision, but acknowledged that “campaign costs are regrettable.
“I don’t know what can be done, constitutionally,” he added. “The way campaigns are financed is more complicated… and more at odds with what James Madison had in mind than can be imagined.”
The immense amounts of money represented by so-called “Super PACs” strikes Engel as “being antithetical to democracy.”
Engel said he has “loaned the campaign a six-figure sum.”
According to the National Journal website, Hinchey outspent Phillips $1,161,667-$607,384 in the 2010 election.
“It will be healthy to have two people run,” commented Coombe. “Both will seek the backing of the county committees. I hope it will not have to go to a primary.”
The far-flung district encompasses Broome, Delaware, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, and Ulster counties.
For his part Phillips said that if the 22nd gets folded into a district represented by a Republican incumbent, he will drop out.
Of his two-time opponent Phillips said, “I wish Maurice Hinchey luck in his retirement. I have a lot of respect for him and for all the hard work he put in for the district.”
Engel is ignoring talk of redistricting to focus on his campaign.
“I don’t know if there is a linkage between Hinchey’s retirement and the elimination of the district,” Engel said. “I’m agnostic about it.”
On his website Engel wrote, “I don’t know what the districts are going to look like but right now we’re in it and we’re in it for keeps.”
About George Phillips
Born and raised in the Binghamton area, went on to earn degrees from Villanova University and the University of Notre Dame.
Taught high school in Louisiana and DC public schools before serving as an aide to Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey.
Currently teaches at both Seton Catholic Central and Broome Community College and has a passion for American History.
George and his wife Diana live in Endwell with their two sons, 4-year-old George Joseph and Michael, nine months.
His platform: Will fight for a simpler, fairer tax code that will reduce the tax burden and create jobs. He also believes that it is vitally important to reduce burdensome regulations that are hurting growth.
Believes the staggering national debt and our massive budget deficits are a tremendous threat to our nation's future. Reducing them and fighting for a Balanced Budget will be top priorities.
Working on a broad proposal to consolidate government agencies and the vast federal bureaucracy that will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
Strongly opposes the “Obamacare” health care law that is greatly burdening our economy. Believes it should be repealed and replaced with legislation that creates more choice in the insurance industry and assistance for small business.
American History teacher who teaches the Constitution and believes that at the heart of our problems are politicians in Washington who have ignored basic Constitutional principles of a more limited federal government that helped make our country great.
Believes Iran is a tremendous threat to Israel, the United States and the entire region and must be face greatly increased scrutiny and sanctions.
About Tom Engel
Lives in NYC and Lew Beach.
Harvard University undergrad, earning two varsity letters in lacrosse and graduating cum laude in 1967.
Reporter in the Boston Bureau of the Associated Press.Covered the 1968 Presidential race, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.
Graduated Columbia University Law School in 1971.
In 1973 was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Over the course of the next five years would prosecute a number of high-profile, narcotics, white collar and organized crime cases.
Build a one-man law firm into a thriving small business with 15 employees. Currently is a principal in McKool Smith, a law firm with offices in New York, Texas and Washington D.C.
Will celebrate 40th anniversary with wife Suzanne (Gallaudet) in 2012 The Engels have three adult children and four grandchildren.
Has been a member of the Federalist Society, the Federal Bar Council, New York Council of Defense Lawyers, New York State Bar Association and has been admitted to the Courts of the State of New York, District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth and Seventh Circuits, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of New York, The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, The U.S. Tax Court.
Quotes: “The parties in Washington must come to a peace table… and do something about the costs of entitlements that thoughtful people on both sides of the aisle acknowledge are way out of control.”
“I have no fixed views of taxes, but our entire tax structure is a mess and ought to be reformed, top to bottom… the wealthy are paying a lot of taxes while almost 50 percent pay no taxes.”
“I wouldn’t be running if I wasn't an optimist. We have serious problems that will take a lot of work and time to fix, but we can work them out.”