Later today, New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22) will become the 31st US House member to announce that he will not seek re-election next year, and the seventh to do so since Dec. 15. Mr. Hinchey, 73, was treated for colon cancer last year but is now reportedly free of the disease. He is in his 10th congressional term, originally winning election in 1992. The representative is the 19th Democratic incumbent intent on leaving the House at the end of the current Congress as compared to 12 Republicans. With Hinchey added to the list, 17 are opting for retirement, while 14 are running for different elected offices.
But the big change spawning from Hinchey’s move is determining just how the new vacancy will affect New York congressional redistricting. Since the Empire State is losing two congressional seats via reapportionment, his 22nd District (Ithaca, Binghamton, Middletown, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston) will very likely be collapsed. The seat is reliably Democratic (Obama ’08: 59 percent – Bush ’04: 45 percent), yet it is now surrounded by Republican seats. Not having to protect Hinchey will allow the Democrats to claim that they are relinquishing a seat while simultaneously drawing a plan to put the area upstate Republicans at a severe disadvantage. Watch for a play likely involving freshman Reps. Richard Hanna (R-NY-24) or Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19) now that there will be plenty of available Democrats in their region looking for a home.