The Rome Area Chamber of Commerce yesterday hosted a debate between the candidates for the new 22nd Congressional district, incumbent Republican Congressman Richard Hanna and Democrat challenger Dan Lamb. The district stretches from the eastern portion of Oswego county down through Binghamton.
The two candidates sparred over issues of free trade, health care and education in yesterday's debate in Rome. And while they disagreed on many of those issues, they did agreed on one thing -- they would be independent representatives who would work against gridlock in Washington.
Hanna, who's finishing up his freshman term in Congress, says he already has a record of that.
"We take every bill, we look at it we read it, we study it, and we deliberately act on it. And that's what we've done," said Hanna. We are well respected down there. We are no rubber stamp. I never forget where I live and who I work for."
Lamb, a first-time candidate and a longtime aide to Congressman Maurice Hinchey who is retiring this year, says he would find ground with lawmakers who represent the middle class.
"We have got to get people who are in this for the right reason, in this for the average person, for the middle class," said Lamb. "And I'm going to form immediate alliances with a whole group of people that are going in there, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done."
The issue of the Affordable Care Act was one where the two candidates showed a sharp difference, like in other congressional races in upstate New York.
Hanna admitted something needs to be done to reform the health care system.
"The Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, doesn't do that. It adds $800 million in new expenses. It does it over ten years, but only pays for seven years of it. It adds 12 new taxes, many of them to the middle class," said the Republican congressman
But Lamb believes the law works to change health care for the better.
"It allows young people to stay on their parents insurance until age 26. It allows people with pre-existing conditions to have health care. It stops being a woman from being a pre-existing condition. I mean these are good things. The idea that we would repeal it, I don't understand it," said the Democrat candidate.
Lamb is facing an uphill battle against Hanna. The website Real Clear Politics, considers the 22nd a safe GOP seat.