There are a number of New York representatives in Tampa for the Republican National Convention. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman caught up with those looking for support and those throwing their support behind candidates.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Thousands of delegates, alternates, guests and elected officials have descended on Tampa. Noticeably absent from the Republican National Convention: New York's House delegation. Many are facing either tough re-election campaigns or stand a competitive chance of unseating a Democratic incumbent. And rather than come to Tampa schmooze, they're staying close to home.
“You want to be where the people can see you. They’re not going to see you if you're down here. And you can go to a whole lot of parties and have a whole lot of fun, but it's better if you have a tough race to be out there on the hustings,” said former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato.
New York Republicans made strong gains in 2010, picking up six House seats across the state. But with their congressional district boundaries redrawn by a federal judge, many of those seats are now up for grabs. For instance, Chris Collins, a Republican running against Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul, chose to stay in his sprawling western New York district.
“Chris Collins has an eight county district. That’s where he should be. I strongly encouraged him to stay in the district,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. “I don’t think he expressed any interest in coming here. There's eight counties. You have a lot of ground to cover, 5,200 square miles. He has one of the top races in the United States of America. I truly believe his time his best spent talking to voters.”
In fact, there are very few House candidates or members in attendance at the convention. Congressman Peter King is here, but he doesn't face a strong challenge. Congressman Bob Turner came too, but he is not running for re-election after a failed Senate bid. An exception to the rule is Maggie Brooks, a convention delegate who is facing off against longtime incumbent Louise Slaughter.
Brooks said, “There's the politics of what we do and there's the governing part and the politics is important when you come to critical campaigns like this, critical elections like this.”
Still, there are pitfalls. Slaughter's campaign released a statement slamming her appearance at the convention. But Brooks says an advantage is to be seen on the national stage.
“I think it's important to be a voice for the party as well as be a voice for the community and that's what a convention is all about. We are rallying the people in our party to have energy to have momentum to get out there and really support the ticket this year,” Brooks said.
And there is another advantage to attending: Donors and other party luminaries tend to appear at these events, giving candidates unusual access and networking opportunities.