Archive for February 7th, 2018

Maurice Hinchey (NY-22), 112th Congress

I was president of student government at Binghamton Central High School. I served on the Financial Council when I was an undergraduate at New Paltz, and restarted the library school governance.

Until recently, I never thought much about actually running for a standard elective office. I did work on a few campaigns, always for Democrats, although not always the establishment choice. Before I could vote, I blew up balloons for Bill Burns’ failed 1969 campaign to succeed his brother John as mayor of Binghamton; he lost to Al Libous, who I did not like.

Some poli sci types did some polling for a state assembly candidate named Maurice Hinchey in 1972, and I did a little phone calling. Alas, he lost to the incumbent, H. Clark Bell.

But 1974 was different. It was a Watergate year. The incumbent member of Congress, Howard Robison of Owego decided that he didn’t want to run again in a district that spanned 150 miles across, from Ithaca to Woodstock. The New Paltz Democratic Club, of which I was a member, had four candidates to consider. One was the town supervisor from Union, near Binghamton, who didn’t bother to come. One was a Binghamton lawyer who a couple of folks supported. Most backed a Woodstock attorney named Bill Schecter (sp?), the local guy. But a few people, including me, favored Matt McHugh, the Tompkins County District Attorney at the other end of the district.

You’d think an anti-establishment sort like me wouldn’t support a DA, but he was a really strong on the issues. I carried petitions and got at least 125 signatures. Schecter may have won Ulster County, but McHugh carried the town of New Paltz.

Again, the poli sci folks did phone poling, for McHugh, running against the ambitious Libous, and Hinchey, who was in a rematch with Bell. The Democrats both won. McHugh spent 18 years in Congrsss, and was succeeded there by Hinchey (pictured), who, sadly, died recently.

I worked a handful of campaigns after that in Albany, carrying petitions at least four times.

When the possibility of a constitutional convention cropped up in 2017, I gave serious consideration about running as a delegate if it passed, which fortunately, it did not.

The only other times I thought about running for office was when a certain person was running for the Albany library board, four or five years in a row. If he had been running for, say one of two positions, and there was only one other person on the ballot, I would have launched a write-in campaign. As the then-President of the Friends of the APL, I thought I might have had a chance against a collector of Nazi paraphernalia, whose views seemed to match his hobby.

After the last guy was elected President, someone said to me, “Well, I guess it doesn’t matter WHAT skeleons are in your closet.” That’s SUCH 2016 thinking.

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