Incumbent Richard Hanna touts conservatism, bi-partisanship ahead of GOP Congressional primaries

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May 20, 2014

The contest for New York’s 22nd Congressional District will be determined in the primaries. This election cycle, there’s no Democratic candidate. But on the Republican side, incumbent Richard Hanna is facing Claudia Tenney – an assemblywoman from central New York. Recently, Monica Sandreczki talked with Representative Hanna about the upcoming election and the key issues in the race.

Morning Edition : This is your second time up for re-election. Why should you be re-elected?

Richard Hanna : One of the things we do here, we have done my first two years have more work pass the floor, become law than every other of the hundred, roughly hundred new members. We’ve made our work in the district the hallmark what’s great about this job : helping people. But we’re getting back to people in 48 hours. We tell thousands of people – veterans, IRS, social security, immigration, you name it, the small business administration.  I put myself in a position on different committees to really make the most of it for where I live. I’m chairman of contracting and labor and small business. I’m vice chair of railroads. I’m vice chair of hazardous materials and pipelines. I pushed hard for the Keystone pipeline. I’m also on the joint economic committee. We are engaged.

ME : What’s one of the most significant things you learned about the way Congress works during your first two terms?

RH : Ha! How badly it doesn’t work! How dysfunctional it is. How hard it is to create consensus. How the extremes of everything control so much of what goes to the floor. How kind of eager people are to get their own way. And right now we’ve got a situation where the far left and the Republican Party have deep deep disagreements.

So you find yourself in a position where you really want to get things done and we have so many things we need to work on.

ME : What do you see as the most important issue in your district?

RH : We are killing businesses; we are forcing people out of state just like we are forcing businesses to leave the country with our tax code and other reasons. New York, when I came back from college in the 70s, the late 70s, it was a place I knew I could build a life, build a business and I was fortunate. I started with nothing, my dad died when I was 20. I had my four sisters and mom, but I was eager to come home. And I love the Adirondacks, I’m a pilot; I love to fly around up there.  But you can’t do that anymore! Why can’t you do it? It’s because we took our prosperity for granted. We spent all the good things that built our state.

ME : Now, you’re fairly socially liberal – you cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which prohibits job description based on sexual orientation. Do you think you’re isolating yourself from your more conservative Republican constituents?

RH : Not at all! Not at all! Look at the Supreme Court decision – who was right? Who was wrong? It’s the way we’re going in this country and it’s the way it should be. You know I think the true definition of a conservative is staying out of people’s lives, not getting more involved in people’s lives. I support personal freedoms just like I support gun rights.

ME : This is an unusual race in that it looks like there will only be a primary and no Democratic challenger in the general election.

RH : I think the democrats are waiting until 2016 when Hillary Clinton likely will run and the Obamacare thing, they hope, will be off the table one way or another. And I get that and frankly, maybe the thing that sets me aside is I’m not here talking bad about people. I find common ground where I can. I try to be very civilized, very thoughtful and deliberate in my speech. I’m not here making enemies.