WASHINGTON — As a moderate Republican in Congress, Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, R-New Hartford, was one of Rep. John M. McHugh's closest allies and part of a team of upstate GOP lawmakers that wielded influence in the Capitol.
On Wednesday, Mr. Boehlert was mourning the demise of New York's and the Northeast's Republican presence in Congress — a trend he sees continuing in the race for the 23rd Congressional District.
"It saddens me greatly to see what's happening up there to a very good candidate," Mr. Boehlert said, referring to state Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava, R-Gouverneur.
He called the race "a classic example of how we can continue to be in the minority."
Mr. Boehlert's comments mirror those of some other GOP leaders who say the rise of Conservative candidate Douglas L. Hoffman promises not only to cost the party the north country seat but also to complicate the party's efforts eventually to regain the majority in the House. But Mr. Hoffman's allies say his conservative stands are more in keeping with the party's philosophy and can send a message about where the GOP should stand.
"We are now a regional party" restricted to Texas and the South, said Mr. Boehlert, who said the party needs to broaden its appeal to become a national party again.
Mr. Boehlert, like Ms. Scozzafava, represents a brand of Republican politics that runs counter to the more conservative GOP leadership. And he also knows about opposition from the Club for Growth; the conservative group targeted him in primaries during his tenure in Congress.
Mr. Boehlert represented the Utica area from 1983 to 2007 and was chairman of the House Science Committee. At one time, he was part of a group of GOP lawmakers including Reps. Jack Quinn, R-Buffalo; Amo Houghton, R-Corning; James T. Walsh, R-Syracuse; and John E. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, who occasionally bucked a more conservative Republican House leadership on upstate issues.
All were eventually replaced by Democrats.