Campaign 2010

Nov 05, 2008

Syracuse Post Standard - Maffei a winner in the 25th Congressional District

A landslide victory in New York by Sen. Barack Obama and a record $2 million in campaign contributions helped propel Democrat Dan Maffei to an easy victory Tuesday in his second run for the 25th Congressional District seat.

"Two years ago we came very close," Maffei told several hundred cheering supporters just before 11 p.m. Tuesday at the Holiday Inn in Salina. "Daniel Patrick Moynihan always used to tell me America is a land of the second chance. Thanks to all of you, that second chance has worked beautifully."

With 100 percent of the vote counted in the four-county district, Maffei led 54 percent to 42 percent over Republican Dale Sweetland. Green Populist Howie Hawkins received 3 percent.

With Maffei holding about a 28,000-vote lead in Onondaga County, Sweetland telephoned Maffei shortly after 10:30 p.m. and conceded the race before results were known from Wayne, Cayuga and Monroe counties.

No matter how the rest of the district voted, Sweetland said he knew he could not overcome that margin.

Sweetland said the biggest factors in the vote were Maffeis 6-to-1 edge in fundraising and Obamas strong showing in Central New York.

Maffei who worked for a decade as an aide to the late Sen. Moynihan, former Sen. Bill Bradley, and the House Ways & Means Committee said Tuesday night he was not ready to analyze the results.

"All along we thought we were fighting for the kind of change in Central New York and Western New York that we all needed," Maffei said.

Sweetland's first run for Congress came at perhaps the worst time for a Republican.

President Bush's approval rating stands at about 20 percent, the lowest ever recorded for a president, and many Americans saw their retirement nest eggs evaporate in the past month because of turmoil on Wall Street.

Retiring Rep. James Walsh, R-Onondaga, who held the 25th District seat for the past 20 years, said voters disapproval of Bush was a major factor both this year and in Walsh's narrow victory over Maffei in 2006.

"That's the whole campaign," Walsh said. "I think people are looking for change, whatever that is. They just don't want to see any more Bush."

Sweetland's second election loss in 17 months could spell the end of his political career. In 2007, the former Onondaga County Legislature chairman lost a Republican primary for Onondaga County executive by 21 votes to Joanie Mahoney.

Asked if he would run for public office again, Sweetland said, "I learned never to say never." But he added that for now, at least, he does not plan to run again.

Maffei campaigned on a platform of using green technology to create jobs in Central New York and reverse the migration of young people from the region. He promised to help bring an end to the war in Iraq but said he would rely on the advice of the military for determining when U.S. troops should be withdrawn. To resolve the nations health insurance crisis, Maffei said he supports creating a Medicare option for all Americans but would not eliminate employer-provided health insurance for workers.

During the campaign, Sweetland portrayed Maffei as an outsider who learned his politics in Washington, D.C., and would be controlled by Democratic congressional leaders.