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New York Freshmen Most Vulnerable

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (left) isn’t facing a competitive race this cycle, but his job will be focusing on protecting vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Tim Bishop.

If Doheny can make the race a referendum on Owens and his vote for the unpopular health care law and the lackluster economic recovery in the North Country region, it’s hard to see him losing. But Owens might be able to make the election a referendum on his challenger.

On a recent trip to D.C., Doheny was photographed apparently making out with a woman who was not his fiancee — and the photos were published by the snarky gossip website Gawker.com. This came after two citations for boating while intoxicated in 2004. Democrats will use those three incidents to say he’s out of touch with the conservative values of the district.

But if there is enough money supporting Doheny, it will probably make up for what one Republican called his “frat boy” image.

22nd district
Incumbent: Richard Hanna (R)
1st term (53 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican

Right now, Hanna appears to be in pretty good shape in his race against presumptive Democratic nominee Dan Lamb, a former aide to retiring Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.). It’s a Republican-tilting district, and unless he makes a major fumble, which is possible, in-state politicos expect Hanna to come back to Congress.

23rd district
Incumbent: Tom Reed (R)
1st full term (57 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

There are no deeply safe districts for Republicans in New York, but this comes pretty close. Half the population of the newly configured district will be new to Reed, but he’s a good fit for the area.

Democrats in the state believe Reed won’t last in the district for the duration of the map, given that it’s only a slightly Republican seat, but they believe this isn’t the cycle he’ll be knocked off.

Part of the reason: The two serious Democratic candidates, attorney Leslie Danks Burke and hospital administrator Nate Shinagawa, are not considered to be of the highest caliber.

Things could change here if the mood swings strongly in Democrats’ favor, but, for now, Reed is pretty safe.

24th district
Incumbent: Ann Marie Buerkle (R)
1st term (50 percent)
Rating: Tossup

It’s going to be a tough race for Buerkle, who has struggled with fundraising and organization and now has to hew a path to victory as a conservative in a district that would have voted only 42 percent for McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008.

She faces a rematch with former Rep. Dan Maffei (D), a proven campaigner with significant name ID whom she unseated by a small margin in 2010.

Buerkle allies see Romney doing much better than McCain did in this reconfigured district and believe she has room to grow with proper messaging. They also point to the fact that she raised $238,000 in the first quarter, the most she’s ever raised in any quarter of her political career.

“Fundraising didn’t get off to a fast start, but that ship has been righted,” campaign manager David Ray said. “We’re going to be extremely competitive going forward.”

Health care will play in this race, with Republicans working to tie Maffei to an unpopular Washington for his vote in favor of the reform bill. Democrats will tie Buerkle to her votes for the Ryan plan and slam her for twice voting “to end Medicare.”

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