Rep. Richard Hanna headlines group of NY Republicans, independents supporting Hillary Clinton

September 26, 2016 GMT

A collection of New York Republicans and independents have formed a group supporting Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Together for America New York launched Monday hours before the first presidential debate, which is being held at Hofstra University on Long Island. The group includes U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, who is the first GOP member of Congress to endorse Clinton.

Tim Clancy, who served as chief of staff to longtime central New York Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, is also supporting Clinton. He called the Democratic nominee “the superior candidate” and believes she will make an “excellent president” if elected.

“Her tenure as senator from New York was exemplary,” Clancy said in a statement provided by the Clinton campaign. “She was energetic, well prepared and engaged — representing New York vigorously and effectively during challenging times post-9/11.

“I was particularly impressed with her strong desire to work across party lines, helping promote and defend the state’s economic, agricultural, environmental and defense interests.”

Some of the other notable Clinton supporters include former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, a Republican whose time in office overlapped with Clinton’s Senate career. Retired Army Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, who chaired a veterans and military families advisory board for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has endorsed Clinton.

Two of the Together for America members hail from the Finger Lakes region: Brian Nicholson, president and CEO of Red Jacket Orchards in Geneva, and New York Wine and Grape Foundation President Jim Trezise.

Roxaina Hurlburt, co-owner of Mercer’s Dairy in Boonville, has also joined Together for America. She was featured in a recent Clinton campaign video and appeared at a small business roundtable Clinton held in Syracuse last spring.

Hurlburt is a Republican.

“The personal efforts of former Senator Clinton have enabled a small business like mine to become a pioneer in a large industry segment,” she said in a statement.

The support from New York Republicans and independents is noteworthy. She is facing a fellow New Yorker, Manhattan real estate mogul Donald Trump, in the presidential race.

Trump enjoys a lot of support from GOP leaders around the state, including Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey and the party’s 2010 gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino of Buffalo.

But not all Republicans are supporting Trump. Hanna, R-Barneveld, received national attention when he decided to endorse Clinton over the GOP nominee.

Another central New York congressman, U.S. Rep. John Katko, hasn’t said whether he’s supporting Trump in the presidential election. He has ruled out voting for Clinton.