Longtime Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) got into a verbal altercation with a local reporter Thursday before a debate with his Republican challenger, George Phillips.
The argument was caught on tape by a local news camera crew, which also alleges that after the cameras were off, Hinchey escalated the altercation by confronting the reporter and poking him in the chest.
In the video, Hinchey brushes off questions from the reporter about his stake in a local development project.
"You're full of baloney," Hinchey said. When the reporter persisted, Hinchey loudly tells him to "shut up."
Hinchey's campaign released a statement about the incident Friday that accused the reporter in question of taking "an aggressive step toward him in an attempt to provoke a further argument. Nevertheless, the congressman regrets he didn't walk away from Mr. Kemble sooner in order to end the heated argument."
A nine-term incumbent, Hinchey hasn't had a competitive race in years and wasn't expected to face a tough challenge in 2010, either. But at least one powerful outside groups is setting its sights on Hinchey ahead of November.
American Crossroads, which has already spent millions on competitive House and Senate races this fall, plans on spending some $300,000 on TV ads targeting Hinchey.