2008 United States House of Representatives elections in New York - Wikipedia

2008 United States House of Representatives elections in New York

The 2008 congressional elections in New York were held on November 4, 2008 to determine representation in the state of New York in the United States House of Representatives. New York has 29 seats in the House, apportioned according to the 2000 United States Census. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; those elected will serve in the 111th Congress from January 4, 2009 until January 3, 2011. The election coincided with the 2008 U.S. presidential election in which Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a wide margin.

The districts with congressional races not forecast as "safe" for the incumbent party were New York's congressional districts 13, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26 and 29.

The Democratic Party gained three seats in New York's congressional delegation in the 2008 elections. In New York's 13th congressional district, Democrat Michael McMahon defeated Robert Straniere to win the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Vito Fossella. In New York's 25th congressional district, Democrat Dan Maffei defeated Republican Dale Sweetland to win the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Jim Walsh. In New York's 29th congressional district, Democrat Eric Massa defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl.[1] Beginning in 2009, New York's congressional delegation consisted of 26 Democrats and three Republicans.

Delegation compositionEdit

2008 pre-election Seats
  Democrat-held 23
  Republican-held 6
2008 post-election Seats
  Democratic-Held 26
  Republican-Held 3

District 13Edit

Republican incumbent Vito Fossella announced his retirement on May 20, 2008, leaving this an open seat. Democratic City Councilman Michael McMahon, endorsed by the Staten Island Democratic Party[2] won the primary against Steve Harrison, who lost to Fossella in 2006. Republican Robert Straniere defeated Dr. Jamshad Wyne in the Republican primary. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Democrat Favored'. McMahon defeated Straniere in the general election.[1]

District 19Edit

The 19th congressional district of New York, which includes Westchester and parts of the Hudson Valley.

Democratic incumbent John Hall was challenged by Republican Kieran Lalor. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Democrat Favored'. Hall won the election. [1]

District 20Edit

2008 New York's 20th congressional district election
← 2006 November 4, 2008 2009 (special) →
Nominee Kirsten Gillibrand Sandy Treadwell
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 193,651 118,031
Percentage 62.1% 37.9%


Representative before election

Kirsten Gillibrand

Elected Representative

Kirsten Gillibrand

Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand was challenged by Republican Sandy Treadwell. CQ Politics forecast race as 'Leans Democratic.' Gillibrand won easily.[1]

This was incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's first run for re-election, and was one of the most expensive House races in the nation, with both campaigns spending a total of more than $9 million.[3] Gillibrand had defeated Republican Congressman John Sweeney in an upset in 2006.

Representative Gillibrand faced businessmen Morris Guller in the Democratic primary due, it was said, to her support for a supplemental appropriation for the Iraq conflict.[4] Gilibrand won the primary by a wide margin.

Those who would have run in the 2008 Republican primary to face Gillibrand had there been one:[5]

  • Lt. Colonel Michael Rocque, US Army (retired)
  • Sandy Treadwell, former New York Republican State Committee chairman
  • John Wallace, New York State Police (retired)

Treadwell, with the backing of the State Conservative Party and the GOP, filed Requests for Judicial Intervention to disqualify Wallace and Rocque from the primary. He succeeded, and became the sole opponent of Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand faced Republican Sandy Treadwell, former Secretary of State for New York.[6] On October 10, 2008, the Cook Report listed the 20th District as "Likely Democratic". Gillibrand won the November 4, 2008 election with 62% of the vote to Treadwell's 38%.

2008 New York's 20th congressional district election[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Kirsten Gillibrand 178,996
Working Families Kirsten Gillibrand 14,655
Total Kirsten Gillibrand 193,651 62.13
Republican Sandy Treadwell 99,930
Conservative Sandy Treadwell 10,077
Independence Sandy Treadwell 8,024
Total Sandy Treadwell 118,031 37.87
Majority 75,620
Turnout 311,682
Democratic hold Swing

District 21Edit

Democratic incumbent Michael R. McNulty retired, leaving this an open seat. Former State Representative Paul Tonko won the five-way Democratic primary, defeating Tracey Brooks and Phil Steck, and two others. Tonko then handily defeated Republican nominee Jim Buhrmaster, who defeated Ron Paul supporter Steven Vasquez in the Republican primary.[1]

District 23Edit

Republican incumbent John McHugh ran for re-election against Democrat Mike Oot. CQ Politics forecasted the race as "Safe Republican." McHugh prevailed.[1]

District 24Edit

Democratic incumbent Michael Arcuri was challenged by Republican businessman Richard Hanna. CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Democrat Favored'. Arcuri defeated Hanna.[1]

District 25Edit

2008 New York's 25th congressional district election
← 2006 November 4, 2008 (2008-11-04) 2010 →
Nominee Dan Maffei Dale Sweetland
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 146,411 113,358
Percentage 54.5% 42.2%


Representative before election

James T. Walsh

Elected Representative

Dan Maffei

Republican incumbent James T. Walsh retired, leaving this an open seat. Democrat Dan Maffei ran against Republican Dale Sweetland who won in a crowded primary race, and frequent candidate Howie Hawkins (who used the "Green Populist" label).[8] CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Leans Democratic'. Maffei won the election.[1]

The New York 25th congressional district election for the 111th Congress was held on November 4, 2008. The race featured Democratic Party nominee Dan Maffei, who narrowly lost to incumbent Jim Walsh for the same seat in 2006, Republican Party nominee Dale Sweetland, former Chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, Green Party founder and frequent political candidate.

Maffei defeated Sweetland decisively, 55% to 42%, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district since 1981.[9]

On January 24, 2008, Republican incumbent Jim Walsh announced he would not be running for an eleventh term. Walsh's 2006 Democratic challenger Dan Maffei had already announced his candidacy to challenge the seat in 2008, and had mounted a strong campaign. In March 2008, after Democratic Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll announced he would not be running for the seat, Maffei was virtually assured of the Democratic nomination, and ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on September 9. After it appeared he might run unopposed in the general election, on April 2 Republican Dale Sweetland, coming off a narrowly unsuccessful September 2007 bid for Onondaga County Executive, announced he'd oppose Maffei. Other Republicans followed suit, but Sweetland won the crowded primary and received the party nomination in May 2008.

Maffei was heavily favored to win the seat, and lead heavily in campaign contributions.[10] In addition to rating the district as "Leans Democratic", RealClearPolitics ranked this as the third most likely Congressional district to switch parties.[11] Going into the election, other pundits from CQ Politics, The Cook Report, and the Rothenberg Report are also ranking it as "Lean Democrat" to "Democrat Favored".[12] In May 2008, and again on June 20, 2008, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, author of "The Fix", ranked the race as the #1 Congressional race to turn over from a "Red" seat to a "Blue" seat 2008.[13][14] Although Walsh had held it without serious difficulty before his near-defeat in 2006, the 25th had swung heavily to the Democrats at most other levels since the 1990s. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the district was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

On November 4 Maffei defeated Sweetland, 55% to 42%.[9] He will be the first Democrat to represent the area since 1981 (when it was the 32nd District).

2008 US House election: New York District 25, 99.2% reporting
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dan Maffei 146,411 54.5 +5.3
Republican Dale Sweetland 113,358 42.2 +42.2
Green Howie Hawkins 8,855 3.3 +3.3
Majority 33,053 12.3 +10.7
Turnout 268,624 100 +23.4

District 26Edit

Republican incumbent Thomas M. Reynolds retired, leaving this an open seat. In an upset victory, Amherst environmental lawyer Alice Kryzan won the Democratic primary against Iraq War veteran Jonathan Powers and maverick millionaire Jack Davis. The Republican nominee was businessman Christopher Lee.[15] CQ Politics forecasted the race as 'Leans Republican'. Lee prevailed.[1]

Republican businessman Christopher J. Lee (R) won the seat running against Democratic lawyer Alice Kryzan (148,607 to 109,615), even though several analysts rated the race as a toss-up or leaning Democratic.[16][17][18]

Alice Kryzan, an environmental attorney, won the Democratic party primary election on Tuesday, September 9, 2008. She ran against Jon Powers, an Iraq war vet and the endorsed Democratic candidate, as well as wealthy industrialist Jack Davis. The primary was notable for its large negative ad content, most heavily by self-financed Davis against Powers. Kryzan upset the conventional wisdom with a surprise win, partially on the strength of a last-minute TV ad characterizing the other two candidates as squabbling. A major selling point Kryzan used was that both of her primary rivals were former Republicans. Powers remained on the Working Families Party ballot line despite endorsing Kryzan and attempting to get himself removed after having moved out of state. The Republican party brought a lawsuit to prevent the line from being given to Kryzan.[19] However, the presence of Powers on the ballot made no difference to the outcome of the race as the number of votes his ballot line received was much smaller than the margin of victory for Lee.

Republican Chris Lee was the only candidate running for the party nomination and was endorsed by incumbent Representative Tom Reynolds. Operatives within the party also reportedly tried to recruit several other high-profile candidates, including WIVB-TV anchor Don Postles, a registered independent, which led to Postles having to issue an on-air rejection of their efforts.

2008 US House election: New York District 26
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris Lee 148,607 ~55
Democratic Alice Kryzan 109,615 ~40
Working Families Jon Powers ~5
Majority 38,992
Turnout 100

District 27Edit

Democrat Brian Higgins easily defeated Independence Party candidate Dan Humiston. The Republicans did not put forth a candidate, instead cross-endorsing Humiston. Higgins won the general election.[1]

District 28Edit

Democrat Louise Slaughter easily defeated her Republican opponent, David Crimmen.[1]

District 29Edit

2008 New York's 29th congressional district election
← 2006 November 4, 2008 (2008-11-04) 2010 →
Nominee Eric Massa Randy Kuhl
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 140,529 135,199
Percentage 51.0% 49.0%

Representative before election

Randy Kuhl

Elected Representative

Eric Massa

Democratic nominee Eric Massa defeated Republican incumbent Randy Kuhl, following his unsuccessful 2006 run against Kuhl.[20]

Two-term incumbent Randy Kuhl (R) had been elected to Congress with 52% of the popular vote over Democratic candidate Eric Massa in a two-way race in 2006. In March 2006, citing his frustration with actions at the in-patient mental health care hospital at the Canandaigua VA center, former Democratic candidate, and a long-time friend of 2004 presidential candidate General Wesley Clark, Eric J.J. Massa filed to run as the Democratic candidate again in 2008.[21] In May 2007, Pittsford businessman David Nachbar, a senior vice-president of Bausch & Lomb, also announced his candidacy as a Democratic candidate for the same seat. As of a post on April 18, 2007 from Massa on DailyKos, the DCCC placed a requirement on their support for any candidate relied upon that candidate having $300K cash-on-hand by the end of the second quarter 2007 (June 30).[22] In August 2007, Nachbar announced that he was withdrawing from the race, with news reports stating that a letter to supporters suggest his role as Senior VP of Human Resources for Bausch & Lomb during a buyout via hedge fund Warburg Pinkus rendered him unable to campaign effectively.[23] Prior to Nachbar's announcement, Massa's campaign announced in a press release, that he had received all of the County endorsements of the 29th District and all of the townships in Monroe County, but had yet to secure the Monroe Democratic Committee endorsement.[24]

A native of the 29th District, Congressman Randy Kuhl has lived in the area all of his life. The son of a doctor and a nurse/teacher, Randy was born in Bath, picked grapes and worked inside the wineries on the shores of Keuka Lake, attended school in Hammondsport, had summer jobs in construction and on several different farms during his college years. He owned and operated a business in Bath, became Steuben County attorney, then successfully ran for the New York State Assembly in 1980, the New York State Senate in 1986, and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2004 where he now serves and represents the people of the 29th District. Randy Kuhl is a graduate of Hammondsport Central School, and earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Union College (1966), and in 1969 received his Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law. He is a communicant of St. James Episcopal Church and has been active in the Hammondsport Rotary Club and BPOE 1547 in Bath. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Five Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Branchport Rod and Gun Club, and the Executive Committee of the Steuben County Republican Committee. He is President of the Board of Directors of the Reginald Wood Scouting Memorial and an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology. Randy Kuhl currently lives in Hammondsport and is the father of three sons.

Eric Massa was the Democratic nominee in 2006. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and went on to serve in the Navy for 24 years. He eventually served as aide to former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark. Near the end of his Navy career he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease he was able to survive. A former Republican, he claims he left his party over the issue of the Iraq War and campaigned in New Hampshire during the campaign of his former-boss, Wesley Clark's, failed presidential bid. During the 2006 campaign, Massa positioned himself as strongly opposed to the Iraq war and unrestricted "free trade," favoring instead "fair trade". Other issues in his platform included expanding farm aid programs, as well as bringing homeland security money to the 29th District. Massa is also active in Band of Brothers/Veterans for a Secure America whose goal is to help veterans who are running for Congress as Democrats. Massa has recently worked as a "business consultant" for Strategic Insight, a defense consulting firm in Alexandra, Virginia. Massa, during a press conference in June, 2007, stated that he has since "curtailed all other activities in April (2007) when he became an active candidate". Massa lives in Corning, New York with his wife Beverly, daughter Alexandra and son Justin. His eldest son Richard lives in California.

David Nachbar is Bausch & Lomb's senior vice president for Human Resources.[25] He was named to this post in October 2002.[25] Nachbar joined Bausch & Lomb from The St. Paul Companies, Inc., where he was senior vice president for Human Resources.[25] Previously, he was vice president for Human Resources and chief of staff for Asia for Citibank. He also held Human Resources posts with PepsiCo and Time Warner.[25] In 1996, Nachbar ran for New York State Senate as a Democrat and was unsuccessful. Nachbar received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 1984.

On August 21, 2008, Massa attended a Kuhl press conference in the Corning City Hall. After the press conference ended, the two candidates spoke for a minute in the hallway. Massa challenged Kuhl to schedule debates and criticized him for not having accepted debate invitations from community leaders. After Massa left, Kuhl said he had not had time to schedule a debate. Kuhl later issued a press release which criticized Massa for being "disrespectful" at the event, which Kuhl said "was not campaign related". Councilman Dane Kane, a Democrat who also attended the press conference, joined in Massa's criticism, saying, "Kuhl has stopped his town hall meetings, won’t take questions from the public, and refuses to respond to invitations to debate the issues of the day."[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k https://web.archive.org/web/20121004220636/http://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/2008/General/USCongress08.pdf
  2. ^ "Staten Island Republicans designated former state Rep. Robert Straniere as their candidate for the Sept. 9 primary". Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2008.
  3. ^ "Gillibrand, Treadwell spending millions". The Daily Gazette. October 28, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Ilan Wurman (May 31, 2007). "Vote on Iraq funding bill triggers primary challenge for Gillibrand". TheHill.com. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
  5. ^ Maury Thompson (January 16, 2008). "Warren County to endorse on Thursday; Mechanicville GOP endorses Wager; Gillibrand votes for military pay raise". The Post-Star. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "2008 Election Results". New York State Board of Elections. December 4, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
  8. ^ Petitions Filed with the New York State Board of Elections, accessed September 12, 2008.
  9. ^ a b http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/individual/#mapHNY/H/25 US House - New York 25 Results
  10. ^ Campaign Fundraising - New York's 25th Congressional District
  11. ^ Election '08: Senate, House & Governor Races
  12. ^ CQ Politics Projected Landscape, New York's Delegation to the U.S. House Archived October 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Chris Cillizza. "Friday House Line: Dems Could Gain 20 Seats", "The Fix", The Washington Post, June 6, 2008. Retrieved on June 28, 2008.
  14. ^ Chris Cillizza. "Generic Ballot Distress for House GOP", "The Fix", The Washington Post, June 20, 2008. Retrieved on June 28, 2008.
  15. ^ Kryzan beats Powers, Davis Archived September 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News, September 10, 2008
  16. ^ Race Ratings Chart: House Archived October 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine CQ Politics
  17. ^ 2008 Competitive House Race Chart Archived October 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Cook Political Report, October 15, 2008
  18. ^ 2008 House Ratings The Rothenberg Political Report, October 14, 2008
  19. ^ Kryzan Gets Big Setback Hours Before Polls Open Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. WKBW-TV. November 4, 2008.
  20. ^ "AP Calls for Eric Massa in Tight Race With Randy Kuhl". November 4, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ dailykos.com
  22. ^ dailykos.com
  23. ^ democratandchronicle.com
  24. ^ "massaforcongress.com". Archived from the original on November 11, 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  25. ^ a b c d "Bausch & Lomb website". Archived from the original on May 27, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  26. ^ Smith, Jeffery (August 22, 2008). "Kuhl, Massa spar at City Hall". The Corning Leader. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.

External linksEdit