With former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle out of the picture, Syracuse-area Republicans can concentrate on the search for a candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei, who's expected to run for reelection in the 24th Congressional District. Buerkle announced on Wednesday that she wasn't interested in another race against Maffei, preferring to focus on her position on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
That leaves central New York Republicans looking for a candidate to unseat the incumbent. Onondaga County Republican Party Chairman Tom Dadey says the party continues to talk to potential candidates.
"It's important that we get a candidate identified sooner rather than later, so that person can get out and raise the necessary money," Dadey said. "I don't believe we need to match Dan Maffei dollar for dollar, because we'll be right on the issues."
It's been a race for the last couple of election seasons that pundits have called too close to call. Enrollment wise, Democrats have a slight edge in the former 25th Congressional District, which is now the 24th, representing Syracuse and nearby counties. But the district is diverse, with a mix of urban, suburban and rural voters. Dadey says it's still on the radar of the Republican National Committee in Washington.
"It's a toss up district because of the numbers," Dadey said. "It seems to go back between Republican and Democrat. And it's a seat a Republican can win. We've proven that."
Dadey says he's talking to potential candidates, but at this point, the front runner would have to be Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci. And Antonocci, who visited Republican leadership in Washington last week to talk about running, is interested.
"What I bring to the table, and why I want to do it, is that sense of loyalty to this region that I've grown up in. And it's a way to give back to the community for the benefits I've received in this community; the education and the ability to have a nice living in Syracuse, New York."
He also says recent elections present what he calls a winnable seat.
"Certainly with the district lines being redrawn, I think it's certainly more evenly matched up," Antonacci said. "It's not as they say a safe district one way or another."
Another potential candidate who has expressed public interest in the seat is former Syracuse Common Councilor Rick Guy.