ALBANY — Representative Timothy H. Bishop of Long Island is visiting the Rocky Point Civic Association. Representative Kathy Hochul of Erie County is meeting with small business owners. And Representative Bill Owens of the North Country is discussing agriculture policy with the New York Farm Bureau.
With President Obama set to accept his party’s renomination in three weeks, excuses are plentiful among Democratic members of Congress from New York State — or at least those who are gearing up for tough re-election battles in November — for why they cannot attend the Democratic National Convention.
A number of Democratic elected officials across the country have also sent their regrets. But the absences from New York are striking, because Mr. Obama is still very popular in the state, and is expected to win its electoral votes easily in November.
The four incumbent Democrats facing the toughest challenges in New York — Representatives Bishop, Hochul and Owens, as well as Representative Louise M. Slaughter of Rochester — are all skipping the convention, which begins Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C.
The late timing of the convention, after the traditional Labor Day kickoff to the fall campaign season, may be a factor in discouraging some lawmakers from attending the convention. And a court-ordered redistricting plan has forced many incumbents in New York to woo voters they have not previously represented.
“Almost any candidate is better off staying home,” said Lawrence Levy, an expert on suburban politics at Hofstra University. “It’s Labor Day — there are parades, there are barbecues, there are block parties. These are the staples of retail campaigning. Why would you want to take time away?”
But the decisions, in some cases, also reflect the reality that even in some pockets of a state as reliably blue as New York, Democrats do not see the president as a political asset.
Even in New York. You know things are bad for the President and his party when ….