It looks like icicles hanging off the roof of New York State after a thaw and refreeze. The 23rd Congressional District was carefully drawn after the 1990 census as a 'just miss' area. It just misses Syracuse. It is north, west and south of Utica but just misses it. It even comes close to Amsterdam, Schenectady and Albany but, you guessed it, it just missed. It almost includes Lake Placid too, but not quite. Except for Lake Placid it is sort of the area left over after all the mid state metro centers were awarded to other districts for other political rationale.
As a result the 23rd then has its distinct character. Its mostly rural, very separate and hard as hell to campaign through. After John McHugh is confirmed not even one current office holder from either party will be widely, universally recognized. There are even a couple of high dollar types waiting to throw their dollars into the ring. There will be a special election forthcoming. And unless I miss my guess it'll come pretty fast after the Senate confirms John McHugh.
Carl Hulse wrote a piece in the NYT that resonated. See what you think of this part of it.
Sensing an opportunity to get a strong candidate for one of the toughest Pentagon jobs while simultaneously sowing confusion among Republicans, the White House pursued Mr. McHugh, 60, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee whose district includes Fort Drum.
The initial overture about an administration job was made by Ray LaHood, the current transportation secretary and a former Republican colleague of Mr. McHugh in the House.
Once Mr. McHugh’s willingness to consider the post was ascertained, Mr. Emanuel wooed him on the patio of his White House office, a setting conducive to winning converts. Mr. Obama personally offered Mr. McHugh the Army’s top civilian job on Monday and the decision was made public Tuesday.
In accepting, Mr. McHugh noted that he was just the latest in a line of people of differing backgrounds and, in his case, “differing political persuasions, who have been provided by President Obama the chance to heed, to answer new, important and challenging problems facing this country.”
Mr. McHugh was a highly regarded and popular House Republican. He held one of the minority party’s plum committee posts, serving on a panel that has a reputation for bipartisanship, one where Republicans can have substantial effect on military policy.
Many more junior Republicans aspire to reach his level and his decision to resign was no doubt interpreted by colleagues as proof that he does not expect Republicans to be back in charge any time soon, since he would be passing up a powerful chairmanship.
Not only did the party lose a respected, seasoned veteran, it won another special election in New York, where Republicans had already lost a race they probably should have won earlier this year, coming up short in a bid to win back a House seat.
The odds are also pretty good that the Democrat candidate is going to have just as good a shot at taking this seat as the Republican. Obama won the 23rd last year and Kerry lost by something like 4% in the previous presidential race. Its even more guesswork on my part, but I'm of the opinion the choices for those candidacies will be made outside the geographic confines of the 23rd. The process may be artfully designed to appear to have the candidate decisionmaking appear local, but it probably won't be. In any event it will be fun to watch. The polling proceeds as I write.