It is not easy to track the history of Congressional representation of a region because of redistricting every few years. When you wade through lineage of those who sat in the House of Representatives from the area, you get to appreciate the historic significance of the victory of Anthony Brindisi in New York’s 22nd Congressional race.
On Tuesday, exactly two weeks past Election Day, with the vote count of outstanding absentee ballots in the eight counties that are included in the district almost completed, Brindisi’s win became clearly evident. The natural comparison was between Brindisi and Michael Arcuri, the last Democrat to sit in the House from this area. But, to appreciate the real historic significance you must go back 58 years before Arcuri’s 2006 win.
There were similarities between Arcuri’s win a dozen years ago and Brindisi’s win two weeks ago. It was a hard fought, high profile, very expensive campaign. The combatants were two of the highest elected officials in their parties. In 2006, Michael Arcuri was the Oneida County District Attorney and Republican Ray Meier was a member of the New York State Senate, having previously been the Oneida County Executive. The two were battling for the open seat in New York’s 24th Congressional District. The vacancy was created by the decision of Rep. Sherwood Boehlert to not seek a 13th term in the House. Arcuri won that race in 2006 by 18,182 votes. Arcuri would win re-election by defeating Richard Hanna in 2008. But, in 2010, in a rematch of the previous congressional race, Hanna defeated Arcuri and returned the Central New York Congressional seat to the GOP, the party of the member since 1950.
It was the race of 1948 that has the closest historical ties to the Congressional battle 70 years later. In 1948, Central New York resided in New York’s 35th District. It’s representative in the House was a banker from Oswego County named Hadwen Fuller. Fuller served in the state Assembly and was twice elected to Congress. In 1948, Fuller was challenged by former newspaper editor and public relations man John Davies of Utica. Davies defeated Fuller in one of the closest Congressional elections in the history of New York State. The final vote results were; Davies – 62,855 and Fuller – 62,717, a margin of only 138 votes.
Davies win in 1948 was the last time a Democrat defeated a Republican incumbent in a local Congressional race, until this year. Davis lost his re-election bid in 1950, making him the last one term Congressional representative from this area, until this year.