By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
Republican Richard Hanna of Barneveld announced Wednesday that he is challenging U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, for the 24th Congressional District seat.
Hanna, 58, lost a close race to Arcuri in 2008. He said Wednesday he learned much from that run two years ago.
``I'd never made a speech, never tried anything like that before, but we did pretty well, and it wasn't a good year for Republicans,'' he noted.
Two years ago, he was criticized by GOP leaders for not launching his campaign early enough, he said. This time, he is making his move months earlier in the election cycle.
Hanna's announcement came a day after Republican Scott Brown won a special Senate election in Massachusetts, a heavily Democratic state. But Hanna said the timing of his announcement was coincidental, noting that his campaign website "" www.richardhannaforcongress.com "" has taken weeks to build and is operational.
``I don't think the Republicans can take too much comfort from Massachusetts,'' he added.
Hanna said he is a pro-choice, moderate Republican, who is running for office because he is upset with a lack of leadership in Washington.
In a statement e-mailed to The Daily Star, he wrote, ``I am running as an independent minded, pragmatic American who believes that it is government's responsibility to clear the way for individuals to solve problems, to foster all those productive economic and educational elements that create jobs and opportunity.''
Hanna finds the political system is spending too much time and money on war, ignoring its other responsibilities.
"As we live through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, every American's share of our multitrillion dollar debt is over $184,000," he said. "If we do not begin to act responsibly and with urgency, we risk being the last generation to pass to our children the full promise of our upstate community and this nation.'' Arcuri, 50, who was first elected in 2006, said he's not surprised that Hanna is running.
``From the tone of his recent statements, I expected it,'' he said Wednesday.
Arcuri said he hopes the campaigning doesn't start in earnest for months, however, because he's preoccupied with doing the job.
``Right now, I'm frustrated,'' he said. ``I can understand the anger and frustration that was demonstrated in Massachusetts. Without a doubt, people are tired of politics. The most frustrating thing for me is that with the Republicans, all they care about is doing nothing and taking the House back. And the Democrats, all they care about is keeping the House. Our No. 1 reform, health care, is getting batted back and forth like a volleyball.''
Arcuri said he believes the House had a good health care reform bill, one that included a public option and protections for individuals, but the Senate bill is deeply flawed, and he won't vote for it.
A group in the House is now proposing that the federal government adopt a far simpler bill, one that people can readily understand and support, he said.
``We've got to get that done, then pivot and work on creating more jobs in this country,'' he said.
Toward that goal, he might support efforts to tax imports and protect American industries.
``We've got to make things in this country,'' he said.