KINGSTON, NY — Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who served the NY 22nd Congressional District for 20 years, and who served in the New York State Legislature for 18 years before that, announced that he is retiring. At a packed and emotional event in Kingston on January 18, Hinchey noted that he recently suffered a bout with colon cancer.
According to a press release, he is now cancer-free, but the 73-year-old legislator said, “This life-changing experience helped put everything in perspective for me. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day things in life, but this past year provided me with an even greater appreciation for my family, my friends and, quite frankly, my time.”
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who has been hitting the campaign trail with Hinchey since 1992, said there were a lot of moist eyes at the event. She said, “When I think about public service, Maurice has just been a tremendous advocate for the people of the district, and people who need help the most, such as veterans and seniors.”
Maurice was a fierce opponent of the war in Iraq, which Gunther said took a lot of courage. “But now, people come up to him and say, ‘You were right,’” she said.
Hinchey was also a strong advocate for the environment and alternative energy. He will also be remembered as bringing money into the district for a wide variety of projects, such as the new emergency room at Catskill Regional Medical Center and the proposed red meat processing facility in Liberty.
The future of the 22nd Congressional District
Although Hinchey said he would like his district to remain intact, his retirement announcement may make it easier for Democrats to decide what to do about the redistricting process that is now getting underway. Because of the outcome of the 2010 census, the state is losing two congressional districts, falling from 29 to 27.
Analysts have generally predicted that the Republicans and Democrats will likely work out a deal in which each party will lose one seat. With Hinchey bowing out, various analysts are speculating that Hinchey’s district, which stretches from Kingston to Ithaca, and is configured in such as way as to include quite a few population centers such as Newburgh, Binghamton and Middletown, will be broken up.
On the other side of the equation, there is speculation that the Ninth District in Brooklyn and Queens will also be divided. That was a district won in a special election last year by Republican Bob Turner. The special election was the result of the resignation of Anthony Wiener who was entangled in a scandal in which he sent sexually explicit pictures and messages to women via Twitter and the Internet.