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Hanna says Washington politicians should cooperate more as he announces his retirement

Ellen Abbott
Rep. Richard Hanna, his wife Kim and their children Emerson and Grace at the Hanna's farm in Barneveld as the congressman announced his retirement at the end of his term.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) says he’s retiring at the end of his term so he can be closer to his family. He says the decision has nothing to do with the political rancor he’s experienced in Washington as a representative of what is now the 22nd Congressional District.  But he says he would like to see politicians become a little better at working together.

Hanna, a moderate Republican, says he’s been criticized by some in his party for his stands on certain social issues. And he says that’s all right.

"I know people who deeply dislike me for where I am on women’s health care and gay rights. Well, I understand that. It’s a religious belief and I respect how they feel. But I’ve also seen people treat me better after time as they watch the broad body of work we do, because we are consistent, and we’re honest,” said Hanna.

Unfortunately he says many in Washington are now forced to cater to the more extreme elements of their political party in order to get elected.

"And it’s because of gerrymandering. The way the district lines are drawn, there’s a huge incentive to move further to the right or further to the left, and once they do that, it’s hard for them to move back, even though you hear people say, I hate this vote,” said the congressman.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
WRVO News (file photo)
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barnveld) officially announced Monday that he will not run for reelection in November.

Hanna believes changes in the drawing up of districts to create more competitive races would force lawmakers to move more to the center. And he believes answers to most issues can be found a few degrees to the left or right.  And in the end, Hanna says it’s okay to agree to disagree.

"If there’s something I’ve learned about this business, that I’ve known my whole life, but particularly found in the past five years. People don’t mind disagreeing with you. What they want to know is that you’re not a hypocrite.”

But without Hanna, the 22nd Congressional District  will be getting a lot of attention leading up to the November 2016 election. Without an incumbent, a race in a district that stretches from the foothills of the Adirondacks to the Southern Tier, is considered very competitive by political pundits. There are several Republican names popping up at this point, says Hanna, who says is planning on just watching things play out for now.

“We’ve heard from Joe Griffo, Anthony Picente, We’ve hears from Ray Meier, Cathy Bertini, George Phillips, Michael Backus in Oswego -- a lot of good people. And I’m not going to interject myself into that unless I’m asked.”

Hanna didn't mention Claudia Tenney, a conservative Republican Assemblywoman, who had already announced she was going to challenge the more moderate Hanna in a second primary election. Hanna didn’t have a Democratic opponent in 2014, and none had announced plans to seek the party’s nomination before his announcement. Assembly Anthony Brindisi has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.