New York 29th District
The southern tier of New York is one of the nation’s forgotten stretches of territory, yet it has an interesting and distinctive history. Elmira was the hometown of Mark Twain’s beloved wife, Olivia, and is where Twain is buried. Corning is the headquarters of Corning Glass Works, a company successful over the years not only in manufacturing but also in its artistic distinction, which is showcased at a well-visited glass museum. This area has an Indian presence, with small reservations as well as the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, plus miles and miles of dairy farms. Sheltered by hills, the lands at the edge of upstate New York’s deep lakes constitute the nation’s largest grape-growing area outside California and are the headquarters of prime New York wineries. But the region is isolated, and ill-served by air travel or interstate highways. Cattaraugus County, slightly inland from Lake Erie, is actually 110 miles closer to Washington, D.C., than it is to New York City, though getting to either destination requires considerable patience. The cruelest cut was the Internet bust. Corning’s prospects grew dramatically when fiber optics and other high-tech components were being installed at a feverish pace, but the reduction in orders following the bust forced the company to lay off more than 1,000 of its local workers in a town of only 11,000 people. In 2007, Forbes reported that the company was making a comeback as demand increased for its fiber products, which are key components of the liquid crystal display (LCD) glass used in flat-screen televisions and computers.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 29th Congressional District of New York includes much of the state’s southern tier, from Elmira to Cattaraugus County. To the north, it includes the westernmost of the Finger Lakes and the southern suburbs of Rochester. Politically, this has been Republican country since the party’s founding. The towns and the countryside are no longer homogeneously Protestant, and the trend in upstate New York has been toward national Democrats, but the 29th remains comfortably Republican for now. This was Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s best congressional district in New York in both 2000 and 2004. And it was one of four New York congressional districts that voted for Republican nominee John McCain in 2008, albeit narrowly. He got 50.5% of the vote.