It is a closely watched race for Congress in the Syracuse area. A race that is expected to be very close. YNN's Bill Carey says the republican incumbent is preparing to face the same candidate she beat two years ago.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- “Our goal in this country should be to make everyone feel that they have a shot at the American dream,” Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle said.
Buerkle is not a believer in conventional wisdom. That conventional wisdom says after a close win in 2010 over democrat Dan Maffei, coming from a swing district and facing the prospect of heavier than normal democratic turnout in a presidential year, Buerkle should be moving toward the political middle, to draw in more support from independents.
Heading into the 2012 elections, Buerkle is not backing away from the conservative stands that have marked her first term in the House of Representatives.
At Town Hall meetings, she does not back away from controversial votes, like the recent House republican version of a budget.
Buerkle said, “I think it takes more courage to pass a budget than what the Senate's doing. The Senate hasn't passed a budget, they haven't even put out a proposal for a budget since 2009. Three years this country's been without a budget because the Senate fails to act.”
On this day, Buerkle is surrounded by friendly faces. Most in the audience voicing support for her effort to gain a second term and support for her decision to stick to conservative positions.
“No one is saying that that safety net shouldn't exist in this country. It's a moral responsibility. But what we've created is, we've gone so far beyond that now, that we've created a group of people who I think we're doing a disservice to. I think we're holding down people,” Buerkle said.
“I don't know if it's smart or not, but I think it's who she is. She's true to her principles and I believe she tries to inform the public and will stick to them,” Josephine Thomas said.
“We, the American people, are the ones with the power,” said Tea Party organizer Joanne Wilder.
If there is criticism within this crowd, it's that Buerkle hasn't gone far enough.
“We didn't send her there to go along with the Republican Party or the agenda in Washington. We sent her there to help us, in our community, in our county, in our state,” Chuck Pugh said.
For her part, the congresswoman believes she has made a connection with people in the district.
Buerkle said, “ They want reform. They want someone who's not involved with Washington. Someone who's got local ties. Someone who has raised a family here. Someone who understands the people who live here.”
In a rematch with Maffei, she believes, voters will embrace the idea of sending her back for another two years.
The Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, recently obtained a copy of a republican poll on the rematch of Maffei and Buerkle. It gives the incumbent a lead of 42 to 38 percent. The key to the race, though, may be the whopping 20 percent of voters listed as "undecided."