Dan Maffei earned the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton this week in his bid for the 24th Congressional District seat.
Clinton came to Syracuse to speak on Maffei’s behalf at a rally that drew around 800 people. The Syracuse stop was part of a whirlwind tour across the Northeast that also included stops in Pittsburgh and Rochester, during which he stumped for President Barack Obama and Democratic Congressional candidates.
During a speech that lasted about half an hour, Clinton lambasted Maffei’s opponent, Republican incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle, calling her “a tea party extremist” and criticizing her support of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and his policies.
““Why in the wide world would people give me a tax cut and cut benefits to kids with disabilities?” Clinton said.
Buerkle’s camp was unimpressed, issuing the following statement:
“Bill Clinton campaigned for Dan Maffei two years ago, and it didn’t make any difference. This election is between Ann Marie Buerkle and Dan Maffei and we’re confident the voters will select Ann Marie, just like they did two years ago when they kicked Dan Maffei out of office.”
Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum was also critical of Clinton and Maffei. In her own release, Rozum said Clinton and Maffei have failed to reject “the extremely conservative policies of the Newt Gingriches and Anne Marie Buerkles of the Republican Right,” which is why she was compelled to run. She called Maffei “a conservative corporate-financed New Democrat, just like President Clinton was.”
“The most effective way to defeat the Right is to elect progressives who resist the Right, not moderates who adapt to the Right,” Rozum said in the release. “Bill Clinton and Dan Maffei represent the moderately conservative Democratic alternative to the extremely conservative Republicans. I am running to give the people of the 24th district the progressive Green alternative.”
Nurses endorse Maffei
While Clinton’s endorsement of Maffei might not have bothered Buerkle, the backing of the American Nurses Association must have come as a blow, as Buerkle is herself a registered nurse.
The ANA’s Political Action Committee (ANA-PAC) instead chose to back Maffei because of his support of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and Medicare.
“Maffei, a former congressman, will fight to protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security,” ANA-PAC’s endorsement release said. “If elected, seniors who depend on these programs will have no bigger champion in Congress than Maffei.”
ANA-PAC also endorsed Congressman Bill Owens for the 21st Congressional District race, also citing his support of the ACA.
“These are great congressmen who will work hard for their constituents in Washington. Congressman Owens and former Congressman Maffei will continue to fight until health care is accessible to all Americans,” said ANA-PAC Chair Faith Jones, MSN, RN, NEA-BC. “Nurses need to know who has their back.”
Buerkle awarded for work with vets
Buerkle was recognized this week with the Disabled American Veterans Congressional Leadership Award. The award acknowledged her “steadfast support and tireless efforts to strengthen veterans’ programs and enact new legislation to empower all of America’s injured heroes to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.”
Buerkle serves as chairwoman of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health. In that role, she provides oversight of the Veterans’ Health Administration on such topics as veterans’ suicide prevention, mental health care and prosthetics programs. According to a release, her work has resulted in improvements to the Federal Recovery Coordination Program and more timely and faithful implementation of the new caregiver assistance programs.
In response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailing sexual assault at VA health care facilities, Buerkle authored legislation to require the VA to correct safety and security problems that had left many veterans and VA employees vulnerable. The legislation, which President Obama signed into law, requires the VA to implement a comprehensive policy to prevent, monitor, report, and track sexual assaults and other safety incidents that occur at VA medical facilities in order to hold accountable those responsible.
“Serving as the chairwoman of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health is one of my highest honors. Our nation is the greatest in the history of mankind because of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. One of government’s most important duties is to care for our veterans and their families and I am proud to work every day on their behalf,” said Buerkle. “I want to thank Disabled American Veterans and National Commander Larry Polzin for this prestigious award. I look forward to continuing to work with this organization and others to ensure that our veterans have the assistance and benefits they deserve.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.