Nepal RPCV James Walsh has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of his term in January 2009. He was first elected to represent New York's 25th Congressional District in 1988, following in the footsteps of his father, William Walsh, a mayor of Syracuse in the 1960s who spent three terms in Congress. After running unopposed and collecting 91 percent of the vote in 2004, Walsh beat his 2006 Democratic opponent, Dan Maffei, by a mere 3,400 votes. Maffei immediately began campaigning afterward for 2008. After the race, Walsh said he had gotten the message from voters angry with his unyielding support of the Bush administration and its war policies. After returning to Congress last year, Walsh opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq and later decided that he would support efforts for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops. Congressman James Walsh of New York served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal in the 1960's. Read more.
For 20 years, Walsh has served his constituents well as a moderate Republican voice, particularly refreshing after the GOP gained House control in the mid-1990s. Walsh stuck his neck out, for example, to oppose GOP attempts to eliminate President Clinton's AmeriCorps national service program. He also opposed deep cuts in the federal food stamp program. And as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, he brought billions to the region. Most recently, he accounted for $2 million for a crime lab in Rochester, which is outside his district. Read more.
"When I went to Washington," Walsh says, "I wanted to help my community. I had the common councilor's mentality." Jim's biggest footprint is going to be the money he brought home to his hometown in the form of a project that got to be called the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative, a banner he waved proudly above TMR. "They can fight all they want to about the earmarks (aka "local pork" grants)," he explained. "We should never give those up, no matter who's in the White House." So what if he's on the list of top pork-barrelers. "Sue me," he commented with a grin. Jim said his main goal in setting up the neighborhood grants for Syracuse was to increase the number of people in our town who own their own homes. That goal may not have been reached, he explained, "but it's been a success because it shows neighbors there is hope, that somebody cares about them." Read more.
Read more about Congressman James Walsh.
Photo: Rep. Jim Walsh holds his wife DeDe's hand while making the announcement that this year will be his last year of service in the congress. Walsh made the announcement to the press in his office at the James Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse N.Y. His daughter Maureen looks on. Photo: Dennis Nett / The Post-Standard