Millions of Americans will go to the polls Nov. 2 to vote candidates into offices ranging from the local to the state and federal.
Though many Binghamton University students will vote in their home districts, students who have registered with the Broome County Board of Elections will have the opportunity to choose the people who make decisions that affect BU and the surrounding area.
U.S. House of Representatives ‘ New York’s 22nd Congressional District
Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat, is running for re-election against George Phillips, a Republican. Phillips has worked as a teacher and congressional aide, but he has never held elected office. This is a repeat of the 2008 election, in which Hinchey defeated Phillips by capturing 66 percent of the vote to Phillips’ 34 percent, thereby winning his ninth-consecutive term in Congress.
Hinchey was first elected to the House in 1992, prior to which he spent 18 years in the New York State Assembly. He presently sits on the House Appropriations and Natural Resources Committees, and is considered one of the chamber’s more liberal members.
At a campaign rally held in Binghamton Monday evening, Hinchey spoke about the federal dollars he had brought to the district through his position on the Appropriations Committee and warned that a newcomer would not be as able to secure such funding.
In a press conference after the rally, Hinchey told Pipe Dream that students should care about the election’s outcome because Congressional Democrats were responsible for making federal loans directly available to students.
‘This reduces the amount that young people will have to borrow and pay back [for college],’ Hinchey said, referring to federal direct loans to college students.
On his campaign website, Phillips proposed a number of changes he would push for, including reducing federal spending, consolidating the size of the government, lowering taxes and installing term limits in Congress. The website also identifies Phillips as supporting the expansion of foreign intelligence-gathering, taking an anti-abortion stance and supporting off-shore and natural gas drilling.
Congressional Quarterly currently projects that the 22nd district will remain ‘safely Democratic’ for Hinchey, but John McNulty, an assistant political professor of political science at Binghamton who studies elections and campaigns, says that the Hinchey-Phillips contest may turn out to be closer than most people realize.
‘The Phillips campaign has been getting a lot of big donors contributing lately, and I just don’t believe that Bill Clinton came to stump for Hinchey because he had nothing better to do and was dying to speak somewhere,’ McNulty said.
‘I think the Hinchey campaign must have an internal poll that has really scared them, thus Clinton’s appearance. Given national sentiment right now against the Democrats in Congress and their unpopular votes on the Health Care Act, moderate Democrats may be willing to give someone like Phillips a chance,’ McNulty said.
Jazz Shaw, the director of communications for Phillips’ campaign, said that the reason for Hinchey’s success in numerous previous elections had a lot to do with how the 22nd district is drawn on New York’s congressional map.
‘Historically speaking, any time you’re running a Republican candidate in NY-22, it’s never easy,’ Shaw said. ‘This district was gerrymandered ‘ to include every urban area and college campus, while cutting out rural areas that have more conservative voters.’
New York State Senate ‘ 52nd District
Republican Senator Thomas Libous is being challenged in his bid for re-election by Democrat John Orzel. As in the Hinchey’Phillips race, the incumbent, Libous, is a long-serving member of the legislature with more political clout than his opponent.
Libous is seeking a 12th-consecutive term in the New York Senate. He is currently the Senate’s Deputy Minority Leader, and has chaired the Transportation Committee, which exercises oversight of the state’s Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles. His official biography lists his legislative accomplishments as securing more than $100 million in capital funding for BU.
Orzel, the Democrat running for State Senate in the 52nd district, has political experience in municipal government within Broome County as a three-term mayor of the Village of Whitney Point and a member of Triangle Town Council.
Orzel has advocated that drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs through New York’s Southern Tier and other areas, be allowed to proceed with safety regulations in place so as not to deprive local landowners of profit.
Libous has voted in the State Senate against placing a temporary moratorium on the drilling for the purpose of evaluating its environmental impact.
New York Assembly ‘ 126th district
Current Assemblywoman and Democrat Donna Lupardo is running against Arthur Garrison, a Republican and owner of a small business in Vestal who has never held elected office.
Lupardo, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2004, spent 10 years as a lecturer in BU’s School of Education prior to serving in the Assembly and has also served as a Broome County legislator. In the Assembly, Lupardo sits on several committees, including the Higher Education Committee. Her official biography noted as accomplishments securing passage of the State Green Building Construction Act and the Contract Disclosure Act, which she wrote.
Garrison, her Republican challenger, is the founder and owner of the Family Hobby & Crafts store in Vestal. He has also been an executive of Boy Scouts of America. According to his website, Garrison supports caps on property taxes and state spending and term limits for state legislators. He has been endorsed by the Southern Tier Tea Party, which is a civic group and not an official political party.
The Assembly is the lower house of the state legislature, and comprises 102 Democrats, 42 Republicans, two Independence Party members and one vacant seat.