WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Back in 2006, the upset win by singer John Hall of Orleans fame in the 19th Congressional District, a long-time Republican bastion, was one of the brightest moments for Democrats nationally. But the swing-district seat is not considered safe in a year when Democrats are bracing for significant Congressional losses.
In 2008, President Obama carried the district by just three percentage points. And before that, Congressional District 19 was Bush territory.
This week, state election officials finalized the ballots for New York's September primary contests and Republicans in the 19th Congressional District will have a choice come primary day on who they want to see take on two-term Democratic Congressman John Hall.
Westchester County ophthalmologist Dr. Nan Hayworth will face Neil Dicarlo, a compliance officer with a Wall Street investment firm. Hayworth bills herself as the official Republican, Conservative and Independence Party's candidate for Congress. DiCarlo bills himself as a conservative, God-fearing Republican.
DiCarlo, who describes himself as pro-life, is going after Hayworth because she favors keeping abortion legal. Hayworth's press spokesperson says his candidate believes Roe vs. Wade is "settled law," but Hayworth is for parental notification and opposed to late term procedures.
The 19th includes the lower Hudson Valley, and portions of no less than five counties.
Two term Congressman Hall hit the ground running and was made Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Diability Assistance. He has pushed a national sustainable energy policy, and no doubt benefited from President Obama's narrow win in his district, which was buoyed by major African-American turnout in 2008.
It will be a challenge for Hall to generate that same enthusiasm with a stalled national economy and an incumbent president with soft poll numbers.
As a result, the fall contest is shaping up as a referendum on the Obama administration in general, and his Health Care Reform package, in particular.