On January 24, 2008, Republican incumbent Jim Walsh announced he would not be running for an eleventh term. Walsh's 2006 Democratic challenger Dan Maffei had already announced his candidacy to challenge the seat in 2008, and had mounted a strong campaign. In March, 2008, after Democratic SyracuseMayorMatt Driscoll announced he would not be running for the seat, Maffei was virtually assured of the Democratic nomination, and ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on September 9. After it appeared he might run unopposed in the general election, on April 2 Republican Dale Sweetland, coming off a narrowly unsuccessful September 2007 bid for Onondaga County Executive, announced he'd oppose Maffei. Other Republicans followed suit, but Sweetland won the crowded primary and received the party nomination in May 2008.
Maffei was heavily favored to win the seat, and lead heavily in campaign contributions. In addition to rating the district as 'Leans Democratic', RealClearPolitics ranked this as the third most likely Congressional district to switch parties. Going into the election, other pundits from CQ Politics, The Cook Report, and the Rothenberg Report are also ranking it as 'Lean Democrat' to 'Democrat Favored'. In May 2008, and again on June 20, 2008, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, author of "The Fix", ranked the race as the #1 Congressional race to turn over from a "Red" seat to a "Blue" seat 2008. Although Walsh had held it without serious difficulty before his near-defeat in 2006, the 25th had swung heavily to the Democrats at most other levels since the 1990s. The last Republican presidential candidate to carry the district was George H.W. Bush in 1988.
On November 4 Maffei defeated Sweetland, 55% to 42%. He will be the first Democrat to represent the area since 1981 (when it was the 32nd District).
US House election, 2008: New York District 25, 99.2% reporting