Yesterday, Maurice Hinchey had to get Bill Clinton out to Binghamton to try to rescue his re-election bid and save his House seat.  Today, Republican challenger George Phillips trumps Hinchey with a surprise endorsement from former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who has a track record of backing common-sense Republicans.  Hot Air reports exclusively this morning that Koch will deliver a speech tomorrow afternoon in Kingston announcing his endorsement of Phillips.

Why is Koch opposing the Democratic incumbent?  Koch is apparently unhappy with Hinchey over the nine-term Congressman’s hostility towards Israel.  In his speech, Koch will hit Hinchey over his 2002 meeting with Yasser Arafat at the PLO leader’s headquarters, one of only three members of the House that met with Arafat there.  Hinchey also “voted against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism act, designed to promote the development of democratic institutions in areas under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority,” and refused to sign either the Poe-Peters or Hoyer-Cantor letters which supported Israel’s right to control access to Gaza to prevent armaments to flow into the Hamas-controlled territory.

It’s not just Israel, either.  Hinchey voted against tougher sanctions on Iran as well, which Koch will mention in his announcement.  Koch will also hail Phillips for his work while on the staff of Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) on foreign policy, especially on legislative efforts to force UN reform by purging support for terrorism and antisemitism at Turtle Bay.

This not only gives Phillips high-profile bipartisan support for his challenge to Hinchey, it also gives Phillips the kind of policy heft that most challengers usually lack in Congressional races.  It gives voters in NY-22 a reason to feel comfortable in following their anti-incumbent impulse.  It’s a big win for Phillips, and even more reason for Hinchey to be looking over his shoulder the next three weeks.