Will Republicans Hold Rep. John McHugh’s Seat?
President Obama will nominate Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) as the next secretary of the Army, which will open up another House seat in New York, three short months after Democrats held the seat in the 20th Congressional District vacated by now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Can Republicans hold it? Possibly, maybe even probably, but it’s not a slam-dunk.
McHugh represents the 23rd Congressional District, one of 25 New York districts that President Obama carried over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Obama won NY-20 by three points, but he won NY-23 by five points, a token of the districts’ similar size and demographics — very white and very rural.
The Democrats have two things going for them. First, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) passed on a Senate run to lead recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and it was Israel who picked now-Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) to run in the NY-20 race. Also, unlike Gillibrand — who cut a TV ad that probably pushed Murphy over the top — McHugh will almost certainly recuse himself from any campaigning in the district.