At every turn, Democratic challenger Sean Patrick Maloney casts first-term Rep. Nan Hayworth as a Tea Party Republican. The label may not exactly fit; the Conservative Club for Growth ranked her tied for 172nd as the most conservative Republican member of the House (although that score still ranks her just ahead of Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Majority Leader, the 176th most conservative member). Whatever the ranking or label, Hayworth’s tenure has been disastrous for the Lower Hudson Valley.
In one key vote after another, Hayworth has stood with the cuts-only, extremist elements of her party to oppose, threaten or delay legislation important to voters in the 18th District — the farm bill; the president’s jobs bill; the transportation bill; the health care reform law (Hayworth pledged time and again to de-fund it); consumer protections; and a host of important budget and fiscal measures — raising the debt ceiling included. She also has opposed funding for Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing health care programs that have absolutely nothing to do with abortion. Hayworth supported an NRA-backed reciprocity measure to allow concealed-carry gun permit-holders to carry in every state — a clear detriment to New York, which has one of the nation’s toughest carrying laws.
And while large swaths of New York sustained severe damage from Tropical Storm Irene, Hayworth put budget extremists’ talking points ahead of the needs of New Yorkers, asserting that any extra federal emergency aid had to be offset by corresponding budget cuts. At the time, the nation was drowning under a never-ending string of natural calamities. Hayworth later made an about-face, disavowing that position. Later still, she said she had been misquoted — a charge rejected by Executive Editor Derek Osenenko of the Times Herald-Record, which first reported on Hayworth’s comments. Her views parroted those of Majority Leader Cantor. Maloney had the correct view, in an exchange from our candidates’ interview: “I think that when it’s your district under water, it’s your job to bring help, and somebody else can worry about cutting the budget.”
Maloney is a former aide to President Bill Clinton and first deputy secretary to former Govs. David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer. He has smart ideas about promoting green energy jobs, expanding opportunities in higher education and investing in infrastructure. Hayworth’s approach to the nation’s fiscal problems has not strayed from the Grover Norquist pledge against tax hikes, and the cuts-only approach to future budgeting. Hayworth has sought to paint her opponent as an out-of-touch carpetbagger; he lives in a carriage house in Cold Spring, has an apartment in New York City and his partner has a business in Sullivan County, where they also own property. Those ties certainly are substantial enough — as is Maloney’s commitment to the broad interests of New York. He clearly is the better choice for residents of the 18th District. (The district includes parts of Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties.)