New York 22: Hanna Retirement Puts Seat At Risk for Republicans

Nathan L. Gonzales December 21, 2015 · 4:50 PM EST

Moderate Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of New York plans to announce his retirement, leaving a competitive open seat for Republicans to defend.

The news, which was first reported early Sunday morning by The Post-Standard in Syracuse, shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. He is a 64-year-old father of two kids under the age of 10 years old and is personally wealthy.

In the Oct. 1 issue of the Report, I wrote about the buzz in the Empire State that Hanna would opt for retirement. Hanna didn’t need a job in Congress, but probably could have had it as long as he wanted.

There wasn’t an appetite in Washington among Democrats to defeat Hanna (he didn’t face a Democratic opponent in 2014), but an open seat is likely to be a different story. Democrats can’t afford to let the open seat opportunity go by. Mitt Romney and John McCain carried the 22nd District by less than 1 percentage point in the last two presidential elections.

Republicans already have one candidate in the race: Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. She ran against Hanna in the 2014 primary as a conservative alternative and lost 53.5-46.5 percent. Tenney announced her rematch attempt earlier this fall, but other candidates will surely take a fresh look.

Now that the seat is open, Oswego County GOP Chairman Michael Backus is likely to run, according to a Republican source. Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. and Catherine Bertini of Cortland County, the former executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, could be interested as well, according to the Post-Standard. Former state senator/2006 nominee Ray Meier is seriously considering a run as well on the Republican side. Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate.

The filing deadline is April 14.

The Republican primary is important because the 22nd is a traditionally moderate district, formerly represented by moderate GOP Rep. Sherwood Boehlert.

It will take some time for the dust to settle on both sides, but the competitive nature of the district, the uncertain Republican presidential primary, and Hanna’s absence, makes the race very competitive. We’re changing our rating from Safe Republican to Pure Toss-up.