Maurice Hinchey (born October 27, 1938), American politician, has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives representing the Twenty-Second Congressional District of New York since 2003 (before that, because of the redrawing of district boundaries, he represented the Twenty-Sixth District, 1993-2003).
Hinchey was born in New York City and grew up in Saugerties, New York. After serving in the United States Navy (1958-59), he spent two years working as a laborer in a cement plant. He graduated from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a B.A. in 1968 and an M.A. in 1970.
Hinchey worked with his father and others to strengthen the Democratic Party in Saugerties, a traditionally Republican town. He held Democratic Party positions and managed a campaign for a friend. He first sought public office himself in 1972, with an unsuccessful race for the New York State Assembly. In 1974, however, he won the seat, becoming the first Democrat elected to represent Ulster County in the state legislature since 1912. He served in the Assembly for eighteen years. He was particularly noted for his work on protecting the natural environment. For fourteen years he chaired the Committee on Environmental Conservation. One highlight of his tenure was the passage of the country's first law concerning regulation of acid rain. His committee also gained public attention for its investigation of the infiltration of the waste removal industry by organized crime.
In 1992, Hinchey sought and won an open Congressional seat, defeating Republican county legislator Robert Moppert. His closest campaign was in 1994, the midterm election in which the Republicans took control of the House. Hinchey won re-election against Moppert by only 1,200 votes.
The Congressional district was significantly reconfigured when New York lost two Congressional seats after the 2000 census. Hinchey was threatened with dismemberment of his district or with having to run against a popular and well-established Republican incumbent, either Rep. Ben Gilman or Rep. Sherwood Boehlert. In the intense political infighting over the redistricting, however, Hinchey emerged as one of the winners. To protect two younger Republican incumbents, the Republicans agreed to sacrifice the district of the 79-year-old Gilman, who chose to retire. In return, the Democrats accepted a district that threw together two of their incumbents, Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. John LaFalce, prompting the latter's retirement. The new Twenty-Second District that emerged from the compromise winds a narrow, contorted path across eight counties in the southern part of the state, from the Hudson River to the Finger Lakes.
Throughout his career, although Hinchey has run in primarily Republican areas (with the exception of the progressive stronghold of Ithaca), he has never tried to position himself as a conservative Democrat. For example, his website states, "He was one of the first and most outspoken opponents of the 2003 war in Iraq." He is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. He has called for impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush. He has bridged the ideological gap partly by placing a heavy emphasis on constituent service. He now serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee, a post that helps him deliver federal support on programs important to his district.
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