** As written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez, for the Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com
New York 22nd Congressional District Representative Richard Hanna is not unfamiliar with critique. Often this Republican congressman, representing one of the few solidly Republican portions of New York State, has come into conflict with the Republican Party, members of Congress, and his own constituents. But his most recent actions on December 4, 2015, beg the question that is the headline of the article.
To put things into context, let’s backtrack a bit. On September 18, 2015, Rep. Hanna publicly attacked the Republican Party and those who hold similar values, on the issue of Planned Parenthood. Over that summer Rep. Hanna had gone into hiding from constituents after it was revealed that he had received political donations from Planned Parenthood in 2012 & 2014 (the only Republican to do so), and refused to refund these donations. The reason was that Planned Parenthood was reeling from the multiple hidden videos that brought its practices into ethical, moral, and legal question. Rep. Hanna stated,
“To make America the exceptional country it has been, and should be, our elected leaders need to stop pandering, engaging in political theater and start doing the job we were hired to do.”
This was one of several attacks that Rep. Hanna has made against Republicans, his own Party and that of the majority of voters in the NY-22, since he was elected in 2010. But on October 14, 2015, Rep. Hanna went even further. He attacked the Benghazi Commission and supported Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s claim that it was all about her. It took just a day before Rep. Trey Gowdy, among many other members of the GOP and the populace in general to respond. The result was less than supportive for Rep. Hanna, and once again he laid low.
On November 17, 2015, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney announced she will be running for Congress, and seeking the Republican nomination for the NY-22 seat held by Rep. Hanna. In 2014, Assemblywoman Tenney just missed unseating Rep. Hanna by 2,000 after just 3 months of campaigning. On November 18, 2015, Michael Vasquez, who had also run in the 2014 race against Rep. Hanna, announced his support of Assemblywoman Tenney, eliminating thoughts of a 3-way race for the seat. The staff of Rep. Hanna notified the media that they would comment on the re-election status of Rep. Hanna after Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving, on December 2, 2015, a mass shooting killing 14 people occurred in San Bernadino, CA. The deplorable act sparked nationwide discussion about the 2nd Amendment, Syrian refugees, and US international policy. Which leads us to the reaction by Rep. Hanna.
On December 4, 2015, Rep. Hanna issued a commentary via Syracuse.com. That commentary was about Climate Change. The article was in response to his support of the Obama Administration’s EPA regulations created to circumvent the rejection by Congress to pass the 2008 Cap and Trade initiative. Rep. Hanna was one of ten Republicans to support the EPA and President Obama’s directive that Climate Change is the single greatest threat to the globe. That article made no mention about the San Bernadino shooting.
Also on December 4, 2015, Rep. Hanna appeared on WUTQ, the Talk of the Town program. While the hosts of the live on-air program started to speak about the number one issue in the nation, the San Bernadino shooting and how to prevent that in the future, Rep. Hanna jumped from that issue to discuss… the funding of CENTRO, another attack on Republicans, and the gerrymandering of presidential elections – which makes no sense in itself. He said in part,
“[Rep. Hanna starts speaking on the San Bernadino shooting and gun restriction legislation] …The people on the no-fly list, for example, can get guns. That seems to me to be a something we ought to be looking at. But, we’ve had a great week in Congress. As you may know CENTRO, we have a press conference this morning…
[After being asked what presidential candidate or issue Rep. Hanna supports] …Part of the problem with our democracy is that we have become victims of gerrymandering. The way that districts are drawn, some of these districts are so safe all people have to do is go to the far-left or far-right and they get re-elected. The Primaries become the general election.”
Consistently it seems that Rep. Hanna appears to be out of touch with the issues the nation, and his constituents, feel is important. From his reluctance to return political donations to companies with questioned ethics, to his uninformed views on what others do in Congress, to his complete disconnect with the public on a serious an immediate concern on public safety, Rep. Hanna has other concerns. Even when directly asked by WUTQ to comment, as his staff stated he would, about if he will seek re-election, he defied answering the question. He stated that, “I will let you know when I let you know.”
It’s no surprise that we have been able to confirm that several Republicans are starting to circle around seeking support to run in place of Rep. Hanna. While some have questioned if Rep. Hanna will jump to the Democrat Party to seek re-election, another rumor is that Rep. Hanna will instead exit the race and Congress. That rumor seems to be gaining support as at least one former congressional candidate for the Republican Party has made moves. Even in the backyard of Utica, the stir of a potential challenger to Assemblywoman Tenney and replacement for Rep. Hanna is being mulled.
Considering the detachment of Rep. Richard Hanna, his attacks on his own Party and constituents, and his reluctance to speak directly – either on specific issues or to his constituents on what he has done in their name – his future in politics is questionable. But until Rep. Hanna feels the need to inform his constituents of his next step, the real question is what will he do? Will he defy constituents as President Obama and Democrats push for a national SAFE Act? Will he agree with Democrats that gun restriction legislation will prevent terrorist mass shootings? Will he defend the Obama Administration’s EPA as constituents lose jobs and pay higher energy bills? Will he seek re-districting (to benefit whom is unknown) in the name of fair presidential elections, when it has no impact in such a races?
Perhaps it is time for Rep. Hanna to step down, to be replaced by an establishment choice from the past or more likely the 2014 challenger that nearly beat him then. Maybe that would spur Democrats, who abandoned voters in 2014, to present a real choice rather than a trojan horse in the form of what some call Rep. Hanna – a RINO candidate. Either way, it seems most apparent that Rep. Hanna is failing at the very core responsibility of a member of Congress, representing the voice of the voters that elected him.