August 24, 2010
Hanna campaigns in Marathon
Arcuri challenger lays out platform during lunch at Three Bear Inn
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Republican candidate for Congress Richard Hanna speaks with supporters Monday afternoon at the Three Bear Inn in Marathon during a campaign stop. Hanna is running against Democratic incumbent Michael Arcuri.
MARATHON — Republican Richard Hanna had lunch with voters at the Three Bear Inn Monday, campaigning to unseat Democratic Congressman Michael Arcuri.
“The best thing is, he seems sincere and he is not reading from a script,” Marathon resident Amy White said after the lunch.
The inn was just one stop along the way for Hanna, who was visiting the area to meet local business owners and residents throughout the day.
Hanna, 58, a Cooperstown resident and Utica native, is again running against Arcuri (D-Utica) in the 24th Congressional District, which includes Cortland County and stretches between Seneca and Herkimer counties.
Hanna lost to Arcuri in a close race in November 2008. Arcuri, who is running for his third two-year term, received 52 percent of the vote to Hanna’s 48 percent.
It was Hanna’s first run for public office.
Hanna said he is confident about his chances this year, saying voters can’t know where Arcuri really stands on issues because he changed his vote on the health care reform bill, among others.
As of June 30, Arcuri had outraised his opponent by a nearly 2 to 1 margin in campaign contributions, receiving about $1.2 million compared to Hanna’s $690,000, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Over lunch, Hanna answered questions ranging from his views on immigration reform to health care.
If elected, Hanna said he would push for reforms at the workplace to ensure that illegal immigrants are not hired.
“People come here for opportunity. If they don’t have it, they won’t stay,” Hanna said, acknowledging that most Americans are the descendants of immigrants themselves.
Hanna said while immigrant labor is valuable, they must be legal.
Hanna also criticized the new health care bill for not being affordable for all.
“There is nothing wrong with wanting to cover everybody, but it didn’t provide a way to make it affordable,” Hanna said.
Hanna pointed to what he thinks is a failing of the plan, saying it is funded by half a billion dollars in new taxes.
Asked how he would reform the bill, Hanna said he was not sure.
“I don’t know enough about the problem to give a thoughtful answer, but whatever we do it has to be affordable,” Hanna said.
Hanna said the way government is running is unsustainable, adding programs such as Medicaid and social services are costly and high taxes are driving people out of the state.
White said she likes Hanna’s principle of wanting to curb spending and excessive borrowing, saying the country has to “stop spending what we don’t have.”
Hanna has come under fire from Arcuri for a potential conflict of interest over his investments in natural gas companies such as Chesapeake Energy. Hanna said if elected he would sell off the stocks or put them in trusts.
Chesapeake is one of several companies seeking to drill for natural gas in the area. A method of extracting the gas, known as hydrofracking — in which chemically treated water is pumped into the rock to free the gas — has been criticized for being potentially harmful to the environment.
There is a de facto moratorium on the activity while the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes its review of the method.
Hanna defended his investments, saying it is normal for a person with savings to have a percentage of money invested in energy. But Hanna said if he is elected, he would make sure he had no conflicts.
Hanna also said he does not think hydrofracking is the right way to obtain natural gas.
“I think hydrofracking as a technology is not safe at this time,” Hanna said, adding he would like to investigate other ways of extracting the gas.
Diane and Robert Bliss were impressed by Hanna’s work ethic.
“He likes to work,” Robert Bliss said.
“We need to get back to that,” Diane Bliss added, saying it is an important value to instill in children.
Howard Dennison, who owns the local NAPA Auto Parts store, said he thinks Hanna is down-to-earth.
“He is right about the government taking more than it gives back to us,” Dennison said.
Dennison said deficit spending in the government has to stop, adding if a business operated that way, it would go under.
“We have to get back to making money and keeping it for ourselves so we have some to give back to our families, not back to the government to spend,” Dennison said.
Marathon resident and Republican campaign aide Connie White said she likes Hanna’s “common sense approach.”
“He understands farm folks and those trying to stay in business and those trying to start a business,” White said.
Logan Bell is also running for the 24th Congressional District seat, on the Libertarian party line.
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