11:36am

Sun February 26, 2012
Politics and Government

Buerkle's re-election bid gets underway amid protests

U.S. Representative Ann Marie Buerkle will run for a second term in congress, but the day she made that official was marked with protest.

Staffers for the representative got in a brief scuffle with demonstrators at the event to kick-off the re-election campaign.

It became the buzz inside her christened campaign office on Erie Boulevard in Syracuse as dozens of supporters awaited her arrival Saturday afternoon.

Buerkle is seeking her second term representing the 25th Congressional District. The economy and upholding the constitution will be big issues over the next several months, the republican says.

She says she learned a lot in her first year in Washington.

“We are so proud of what we've done in the last year and we’ve worked so hard to do what’s right for the district,” says Buerkle, who grew up in Auburn. “We’ll just continue on doing what we’ve been doing and that’s working hard and being a voice for the people.”

“Walk a mile in our shoes”

About twenty people, led by Citizen Action New York, brought a box of old shoes to protest the congresswoman’s lack of support for unemployment benefits. Many of them unemployed, they asked the congresswoman to walk a mile in their shoes.

When the demonstrators tried to deliver the box and enter the campaign headquarters, Buerkle’s campaign manager and chief of staff accepted the shoes but then barred them from entering the building.

There was some pulling and shoving as Buerkle supporters inside tried to get the door shut and locked. Syracuse police were called to the scene to disperse the protesters. No arrests were made. The altercation left Buerkle’s Chief of Staff, Tim Drumm with bruises on his arm.

The congresswoman never saw the scuffle. Protestors arrived shortly before 1 p.m. for the event, scheduled from 1-2 p.m., and were gone by 1:30. Buerkle arrived around 2:15 while a police cruiser remained parked outside.

Earlier in the day, demonstrators supporting Planned Parenthood were outside a town hall meeting Buerkle held in LaFayette, according to the Post-Standard. There were no incidents there.

Buerkle says she came away with a good understanding of the district’s biggest concerns from that town hall.

“The biggest issue for many is getting the economy going. For many who are concerned about the integrity of the constitution, that’s an issue,” Buerkle said later in Syracuse. “National security and what’s going on in the Middle East, a lot of people are concerned about that.”

Buerkle upset democrat Dan Maffei in a close race in 2010. Maffei will likely try to win back the seat, but exact lines for 25th District, if it will still exist, have not been determined yet.