Rep. Bill Owens, the upstate Democrat representing New York’s 23rd congressional district, said Monday that he may back House Republican leader John Boehner for speaker. After the story went viral, Owens quickly backed off his statement, claiming he was simply “blowing off a little steam.”
Regardless of how he ends up casting his vote, Brendan Quinn, the former state party director who oversaw GOP House races this year, tells us that Owens is running scared: “To make these kind of statements, this early, is an admission that he’s in trouble.”
“If he’s talking about a vote for Boehner, it’s a sign that he’s looking to protect his backside in New York,” Quinn says. “But the real issue for him is not Boehner; it’s the New York State Senate and redistricting. And this is not about securing earmarks from the House Republicans — they’ve already pledged to end them.”
“Owens knows that Republicans will have, at minimum, a 32-30 majority in the state senate,” Quinn says. “Republicans will have an active role in reapportionment, and New York is going to lose two House seats. Typically they come out of upstate, due to the numbers of people moving out of the region. Many Republicans would love to carve off Owens’s district: Give a piece to New York’s 20th congressional district, where Republican Chris Gibson was elected; give another piece to New York’s 25th, where Ann Marie Buerkle just won; then give another slice to New York’s 24th, which was picked up by Richard Hanna. That will force Owens to pick his poison come 2012.”
“Republicans could easily gobble up New York’s 23rd into those three districts,” Quinn says.
(Image from the New York Times)