New York: McHugh Laughs Off Latest Retirement Talk
Less than two weeks after he informed his GOP colleagues that he wants to be the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee in the next Congress, Rep. John McHugh has been hit with a new round of retirement rumors back home.
The Capitol, a new monthly newspaper for political insiders in Albany, reported that McHugh is being courted to run for his old state Senate seat — a seat that just fell to the Democrats in a recent special election, putting the Democrats just one seat away from taking control of the chamber for the first time in 46 years.
But McHugh’s camp is vehemently denying the retirement rumors.
“As I have told every person who has bothered to ask me directly, I will be running for my ninth term in the House of Representatives,” the Congressman told The (Syracuse) Post-Standard in Sunday’s editions.
As the most senior returning Republican Member, McHugh seems well-situated to ascend to the top GOP slot on Armed Services in the 111th Congress.
“I am not now, nor do I intend this year, to consider a run for the New York state Senate,” McHugh said.
But speculation continues: Assuming the Congressman wins re-election this year, he could decide to drop back to the state Senate — where he served for eight years before being elected to Congress in 1992 — in 2012, when the Empire State is expected to lose one or two House seats.
Democrats believe they have a shot at stealing McHugh’s Congressional seat if it becomes vacant. Dan Francis, a retired Marine, and attorney Michael Oot are competing for the Democratic nomination in the upstate district.
Conservative Party May Split Anti-Higgins Vote
Rep. Brian Higgins (D) could find his re-election bid aided by an unlikely source: the small but influential New York Conservative Party.
According to Sunday’s Buffalo News, the Conservatives are planning to run gun rights activist Budd Schroeder for Higgins’ seat. Schroeder presumably would cut into support for the likely Republican nominee, businessman Dan Humiston (Humiston is actually a registered member of the Independence Party but would also run on the GOP line).
Buffalo-area Republican officials see a conspiracy. They note that Higgins used to enjoy Conservative Party support when he ran for the state Assembly — until Conservative leaders broke with Higgins because he would not vote against late-term abortions.
“It just takes votes away [from Humiston] and helps a liberal,” Erie County Republican Party Chairman Jim Domagalski told the News.
Schroeder told the newspaper that he plans to run a “plague on both your houses” campaign.
“We’ll say there are two big problems in the United States — Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
— Josh Kurtz