Ken Hall: Ball vs. Hayworth: Class wars in GOP – Times Herald

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If you liked watching Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich slug it out in New Hampshire but would prefer a ringside seat, wait until Greg Ball takes on Nan Hayworth in the Republican primary for the 19th Congressional District.

Hayworth, the freshman from Mount Kisco, and Ball, the state senator from Putnam County, both boast of their conservative credentials and it is hard to say what real policy differences they have. That means any contest between the two will come down to personal attacks, and Ball has already started.

Since last fall, when Hayworth told Fox News that President Obama chose to “foment class warfare,” Ball has not wasted an opportunity to remind people what class Hayworth is in and how hard she has worked for her classmates.

Hayworth can’t help it if her net worth puts her on the short list of multimillionaires in Washington and the shorter list of new members whose stocks, bonds and homes helped raise the median net worth of Congress to just below $1 million and rising. Or, as Hayworth might put it, the underprivileged.

She can’t hide the fact that she jump-started her career in public service by writing a $500,000 check to her own campaign and has raised $1 million already for the next round. With a family business that is building a monopoly on health care in one of the nation’s wealthiest areas and a position on the House Financial Services Committee, she has no end of opportunities to help people who in turn can help her.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the “2012 Freshmen Family Fishing Weekend” later this month at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., a chance for Hayworth and 11 others to mingle with people paying $5,000 a ticket, $10,000 for a spot on the host committee and double that to get your political action committee on the list. If you are going to fend off charges that you spend too much time catering to the wealthy, it’s not a good idea to hang out at a club that charges $215,000 for a membership and has not only 54 holes of championship golf and a 175-slot marina, but also a private air strip.

Just last month, Ball was on the attack again, this time over Hayworth’s stand on the payroll tax extension, accusing “our ultra-wealthy congresswoman” of being “completely out of touch with working families and struggling small businesses.”

For Ball, who stresses his small-town background as a champion of the little guy, Hayworth is almost too easy a target. But as with many things that are too good to be true, this Ball-Hayworth match might not take place. The long-awaited new maps are likely to take the district now known as the 19th deeper into Westchester, leaving Ball’s Putnam County home and other mid-Hudson counties in a new district.

Too bad. It would have been an entertaining and educational campaign.

thrkenhall@gmail.com

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