Commentary: Richard Hanna… for Senate???

Rep. Richard Hanna

The headline may seem strange to some, but that is exactly what Fredric U. Dicker proposed in the NY Post on April 6, 2015. Richard Hanna, currently the incumbent of the NY 22nd Congressional District of NY, was one of 4 Republicans that Dicker suggests might oppose Sen. Charles Schumer in 2016. The choice begs review.

Rep. Richard Hanna originally was elected to the NY-24 in 2010, and due to redistricting came to preside over the newly formed NY-22 in 2012. In 2014, Rep. Hanna won re-election to his third term after a slim win versus challenger Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. Rep. Hanna is know predominantly for his large personal wealth, and opposition to Republican issues.

The strongest statement that was made for Hanna to run for the Senate in the NY Post article was that Hanna fears another primary challenge. The other positives, for an election in NY, are that Hanna is pro-choice on abortion and pro-gay marriage. In the ultra-blue of New York City, these positions add to the appeal of Rep. Hanna while in the strongly Republican NY-22 these positions detract from Hanna. The added a bit more about what would make Rep. Hanna a good choice for Senate – he has the cash, personally, to take on Sen. Schumer.

What is interesting, about the NY Post article, is that Dicker only commits 28 words to directly support Rep. Hanna as a candidate. Even that was comprised primarily of a quote from an unnamed source,

“Hanna, 64, who is known to fear another challenge from Tenney, “could go out on a high note if he takes on Schumer,’’ said a prominent GOP strategist.”

Fear is rarely a positive motivation for anything. Fear of defending the voting record of an elected politician is not only worse, it implies a weakness that one would assume would prevent a win in any elected office. Likewise, being a cash-cow is hardly an enticing resume point in any endeavor except politics. If these are the high points, a run for Senate seems foolhardy. In fact that does not seem reason enough to run for a city council seat, let alone re-election to Congress.

Rep. Richard Hanna’s record is that of a flip-flop politician. He has supported abortion each time it has come up for a vote in the House of Representatives – in opposition of the Republican party line, the stated position of constituents of the NY-22 according to Rep. Hanna, and the publicly stated position of Rep. Hanna himself. Rep. Hanna has supported President Obama’s 2012 Executive Order on Immigration, while objecting to the 2014 Executive Order on Immigration (which essentially expands the reach of the 2012 Order). Rep. Hanna has claimed to be a fiscal conservative, and yet has voted for unlimited debt ceiling increases.

In addition Rep. Hanna has few achievements to tout. In the 3 terms he has been in Congress thus far he has been able to name a post office, pass two Bills for baseball coins, passed a technical regulation on bonds, and nothing else. He has failed to pass any other Bill that he has submitted, and of those Bills almost all have failed to garner more than a handful of Representatives in support.

Given that track record it is obvious why Rep. Hanna narrowly won re-election in 2014. It is also clear why the GOP strategist quoted by Dicker implies the exit of Richard Hanna from elected office. Still, other than being able to spam television ads and flyers (which was the strategy employed in the 2014 primary race), even NY Democrats have little to grasp in Richard Hanna as a candidate for Senate.

As a comparison of the 2 other Representatives mentioned as possible GOP challengers to Sen. Schumer, Rep. Chris Gibson who has served 2 terms has sponsored 39 Bills (10 more than Rep. Hanna in less time). He passed 1 Bill on Tick-Borne Disease research, and most of the other Bills equally failed to garner support as did Rep. Hanna.

Rep. Peter King, who comprised the bulk of the article by Dicker, is perhaps the most likely challenger. He has a high public profile. While his goal of a run for the presidency is unlikely as there is no national GOP support, his public criticism of top Republican presidential candidates could be a boon in a New York race. He is a moderate, like Rep. Hanna, and has passed 19 out of 321 Bills sponsored in the House of Representatives in his 25 year career. Of those Bills that passed the House, 7 have become law (although 4 were naming post offices).

The reality is that currently, none of the moderate Republican Representatives from New York have anything substantial to showcase in a run against Senator Schumer. The best that can be offered is a politically schizophrenic cash cow who can self-fund what would be an expensive race, and a publicly visible dissenter with 2 decades of political wheeling and dealing under his belt. Based on the potential to actually promote legislation, while each Representative mentioned can easily compare to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (the junior NY Senator), all pale in comparison to the record of Sen. Schumer. But in New York politics visibility is as important as actual success. Thus Rep. Peter King seems to be the best choice with the most credible chance, and likely why he was the first and main subject of the Dicker article.

Richard Hanna for Senate may sound attractive to an incumbent that is not well liked by his own Party, and struggling to hold onto his District. The fact is that beyond sounding attractive, there is no substance to the idea – much as some may summarize the voting record of Rep. Richard Hanna.

UPDATE – Rep. Hanna has since this article’s publishing, stated that he has no intention of seeking a run for the Senate. Given the voting record and support within the NY 22nd Congressional District, this comes as no surprise.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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