Though she hasn’t yet formally declared her candidacy, it appears Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is moving forward with a primary challenge to Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

A source forwarded one of Tenney’s petitions that he said is being circulated in NY-22 by a Tea Party group. The assemblywoman and her conservative allies are apparently seeking volunteers to carry petitions in the district, which partially overlaps with the serpentine assembly district she currently represents (and was drawn into during the last round of redistricting, compliments of the Assembly GOP leadership, with whom Tenney doesn’t always see eye-to-eye).

In a brief telephone interview, Tenney said she still hasn’t made up her mind about running, but recognized she needed to be out with petitions if she wanted the option of doing so. (Due to the court-ordered June 24 congressional primary date, petitioning started on March 4 and only runs through April 10). The assemblywoman said she has “a couple more people, things that are going to go one way or another” before she decides whether to pull the trigger on a campaign, adding: “We’re working on that today and tomorrow.”

Tenney has repeatedly confirmed she was giving serious consideration to challenging Hanna, despite being discouraged from doing so by party leaders. Hanna is one of the more moderate members of the GOP conference in the House, and Tenney has accused him of being out of step with his district, which she says is more conservative since redistricting, and also “taking populist positions as opposed to taking the positions he said he would.”

Tenney has also slammed Hanna for joining a congressional gay rights caucus and consistently supporting abortion rights during his two terms in office.

A poll conducted recently for Hanna by McLaughlin & Associates found he would defeat Tenney by a wide margain.

Hanna has survived a conservative primary challenge before. Two years ago, he easily defeated a Tea Party candidate, Michael Kicinski of Earlville, who is planning a re-match this summer. The congressman then went on to a general election victory against his Democratic challenger, Dan Lamb, a former aide to retired Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

Michael Vasquez, a former stockbroker living in Binghamton, has declared his intention to challenge Hanna, which means this will be a four-way race if Tenney gets in. Congressional petitioning started March 4 and ends April 10.

Hanna has been endorsed by seven of the eight GOP county committees in NY-22 – Tioga County so far hasn’t weighed in – and also landed the Independence Party’s nod.

Thanks to the Legislature’s refusal to move the state-level primaries to coincide with the June House primary, the assemblywoman would not necessarily have to forgo seeking re-election to her current seat if she challenges Hanna and loses. But she insisted that she hasn’t given any thought to that strategy, telling me: “ I’m not going this because I’m planning on losing, and honestly, I haven’t given (an Assembly run) a lot of thought. I haven’t even gotten on the ballot yet.”

NY-22 petition for Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney by liz_benjamin6490