Congressional Race heats up as Republican primary nears

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - You know the primary is close when even candidates start getting fliers in the mail every day, some telling them why they shouldn't vote...for themselves.  Republican Congressional Candidate Claudia Tenney seeks to unseat incumbent Richard Hanna in Tuesday's 22nd district primary.  
Tenney has gone from asking Hanna in person to asking him through the putting the message, "Debate me", on L.E.D. billboards in the district. Hanna has declined to debate his challenger, saying that you cannot debate a liar. Political analyst and Hamilton College Professor of Government Phil Klinkner, Ph.D., has his own theory.
"It's clearly a political strategy on Hanna's part that he doesn't want to debate because when you debate somebody, then it gives them more focus, more attention, and he wants to avoid that....he obviously doesn't  think it's politically to his benefit to debate so that's why he's doing it. So I wouldn't take too seriously his claims that this is sort of a principled ethical stand on his part," says Klinkner.  Tenney, too, has her own theories as to her opponent's repeated refusals to debate her.
"He wants to hide behind these multi-million dollar PACS that are trying to portray him as a conservative and trying to portray me as liberal which is completely false. That's why he doesn't want to debate. Because in a public forum, that would come out."
The race is gaining national attention after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated June 10 by a member of his own party-the first time that has ever happened.  People are curious as to whether this could be a pattern;  established Republicans being unseated by members of their own party.  
Klinkner says, Hanna should definitely be paying attention, and he thinks he is.
"What the Eric Cantor race showed is no Republican elected official can afford to not take those challenges seriously and I think we're seeing Richard Hanna take this race very seriously. Hanna and the PAC allies that he has have already spend approximately a million dollars so they're clearly taking this challenge very seriously," says Klinkner.
It's a comparison not lost on Tenney.
"McLaughlin did the poll for Cantor and Hanna the same day they released the Cantor results showing him up about 30 points. They did not release the Hanna poll. I'm hoping for the same result. Our campaigns are virtually identical," says Tenney.
We asked Congressman Hanna to respond to these and other issues. He issued the following statement:  "My focus is always on upstate New York. Our team has been making phone calls, knocking on doors and spreading the word about the June 24th primary and the importance of getting out to vote. We've made a lot of progress, but there's always more to do. I look forward to continuing to earn votes one at a time each and every day."

The 22nd district congressional primary is Tuesday, June 24.  

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