Is Maurice Hinchey an "endangered Democrat"?

We’ve certainly detailed the many embarrassing moments for NY-22 that came courtesy of their Congressman, as well as the, er, coincidental connections of Maurice Hinchey’s pork and his business partners.  His constituents would like to hear Hinchey’s positions on the issues, but apparently those are none of their business.  Small wonder that Republican challenger George Phillips outraised him at one point this year, and that New York talk-radio Imre Beke host thinks that the national media are missing the fact that Hinchey’s unhinged schtick might be coming to an abrupt close:

For a sense of how big the Republican wave may be on Election Day, consider a normally safe Northeastern Democrat — Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-Ulster), a liberal who’s held the seat since 1992 and never faced serious opposition.

New York’s 22nd congressional district is carefully gerrymandered for his benefit, running 180 miles from the west bank of the Hudson at Newburgh to the state-university town of Binghamton. Much of it looks like farm country, but the main employers are the state and local governments — hiring prison guards, schoolteachers, college professors and government bureaucrats.

But this year might be different for Hinchey. His challenger is George Phillips, a bright, charismatic conservative from Binghamton who knows both the Congress and the district. A former staffer for Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Phillips now teaches history at a Catholic school in Binghamton.

Beke reviews the polling data we saw last month, and draws the same conclusion from Hinchey’s position in it.  An incumbent at 44% in a district that has repeatedly sent him to Washington and knows him well is in deep trouble.  The high number of undecideds have already made a decision about Hinchey, as Beke points out:

Worse still for Hinchey, 19 percent were undecided. They’re not undecided about him (not after his 18 years in Congress), but waiting to hear more from his challenger. And so far, the more they know, the more they like Phillips.

Beke also knows Hinchey well.  He had one encounter with the Congressman in 2001 which showed Beke exactly what kind of character Hinchey had.  A Catholic school held a rally in 2001 to convince the archdiocese from closing its doors, and Hinchey was there pressing the flesh.  Having talked with Hinchey occasionally in the past, Beke approached him and asked about school vouchers and choice, which Hinchey had opposed.  If those had been in place, the school wouldn’t be facing closure, and Beke asked Hinchey if perhaps he’d reconsider his position.  Beke describes Hinchey’s response:

Hinchey looked at me like I was something he had just stepped in. He said: “I’m a US congressman. Nobody tells me what to do.”

With that, he turned his back on everyone there and walked out of the school.

Not even his constituents, I guess.  It’s that kind of arrogance that needs to be endangered on Capitol Hill, and replaced by those who don’t consider themselves a ruling elite rather than public servants representing the will of the voters.  With any luck, Hinchey will be offering up that attitude only in forced retirement.