Rochester D & C Coverage
But Walsh, like other upstate congressional Republicans, is finding the landscape different this year amid President Bush's low approval rating, the ongoing struggles with the war in Iraq and the slumping regional economy.
Walsh's attempt to stave off a Democratic challenger — two people are seeking the nomination — could make for one of the more competitive upstate races this year.
Walsh is already working to solidify support in his 25th Congressional District, which stretches from Syracuse to Webster.This month, he spent more than $100,000 on three television ads that promote his record on improving veterans' rights and hearing health.
To counter, Democratic opponent Dan Maffei ran about $20,000 worth of ads in Syracuse knocking Walsh as out of touch.
Meanwhile, Maffei's challenger for the Democratic nod, Webster lawyer Paloma Capanna, is bicycling across the district for the 1,250 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
"This is an election season where the Republicans are playing defense in upstate New York," said Gerald Gamm, head of the political science department at the University of Rochester.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently labeled Walsh as its "rubber stamp of the week," saying he voted with Bush 88 percent of the time.
"What I find unequivocally this year is that people are out shopping for a replacement for Walsh," Capanna said.
What gives the challengers hope is that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry carried the district in 2004 and Democrat Al Gore won it in 2000.
The Rochester area of the district, I think, provides an interesting opportunity because Jim Walsh isn't well known there. However, I'm not sure if its large enough to offset anything but a razor thin race in Onondaga county.