Some national conservative political pundits are comparing the Republican primary in the 22nd Congressional District in New York state tomorrow to the Virginia primary race that saw a Tea Party candidate beat an established Republican Party leader.
The race has some of the same themes as that Virginia primary, with a moderate main street Republican looking to keep his seat, in the wake of a challenge from a more conservative Tea Party Republican.
The 22nd Congressional District covers all of Chenango Cortland, Madison and Oneida Counties and parts of Broome, Herkimer, Oswego and Tioga Counties.
The incumbent is businessman Richard Hanna from Barneveld, who has positioned himself as a middle of the road Republican, who's bullish on legislation that helps businesses, but won’t hesitate to cross the aisle and vote with Democrats.
For example the two-term Congressman was the only Republican in the House earlier this year against G.O.P. legislation that would ban federal payments for abortion, and he’s joined the gay rights caucus on Capitol Hill.
He’s publicly criticized the Tea Party wing of the party, but suggests his conservative credentials are still strong.
"We’ve represented business interests, growth interests of entrepreneurs," said Hanna. "I also have a record of being moderate on other things. But where it matters, I have a good solid conservative record."
Challenger Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney disagrees with that. The lawyer and businesswoman was first elected to the State Assembly in 2010, the same year Hanna won his first term in Washington.
"We both ran as fiscal conservatives as people who were business people," said Tenney. "And I lived up to my word. I am the top rated conservative in New York year after year. And now Richard is the third most liberal member of the Republican Congress."
Tenney has support of the pro-life wing of the Republican party, and says she exemplifies the Tea Party mantra of less government and lower taxes.
The campaign has been spirited.
While Hanna turned down requests to debate, both candidates have crossed the district trying to get their message to supporters. Tenney, among other things, has attacked Hanna’s connections with The Chamber of Commerce.
Hanna has gotten support from outside the district, from a pro-gay rights Republican P.A.C. that, through television ads and direct mail, has accused Tenney of voting against tax relief.
Whoever wins the primary likely goes to Congress, because local democrats haven’t been able to get a candidate on the ballot for the fall election.