Editor’s note: This report was updated with final numbers from the 2016 election.
Claudia Tenney will look to take back the 22nd Congressional District seat this November from incumbent Anthony Brindisi, who defeated her in 2018.
Tenney was elected in 2016, riding Donald Trump’s popularity. Trump won the district by 15.5 percentage points, Tenney said, but only by 5.6 percentage points in Cortland County. Tenney had 129,444 votes to Democrat Kim Meyer’s 114,266 and third-party candidate Martin Babinec’s 34,638.
However, the balance shifted two years later. Brindisi won in one of the last races called in the campaign, 127,715 to Tenney’s 123,242 votes, 50.9% to 49.1% In Cortland County, the margin was much wider, 9,246 to 7,378, or 55.6% for Brindisi to Tenney’s 44.4%.
Tenney is betting on a presidential election year helping her regain the seat.
“We think that the president’s going to be winning big again,” she said. “I think that that gives us a good opportunity.”
Brindisi is sticking with his message from 2018 and focusing on helping constituents through the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m going to run a positive campaign, talking about my record of bipartisanship and getting things done,” he said. “The most important thing right now is for both parties to work together to fight back against COVID and get our economy moving.”
Tenney said she would like to hold eight debates. Brindisi has agreed to four.
Some of the issues:
Spectrum costs have been on the rise across New York. They were an issue in 2018, too, with each saying the other takes money from Spectrum and its parent, Charter Communications.
Tenny said the issue is not a federal issue and that Brindisi supported the monopoly Spectrum has. She said she opposed that monopoly.
“It’s a phony issue he brought up blaming me for it when you know really the Senate, the Assembly and the Public Service Commission determine what the rates are,” she said.
Brindisi said he’s been working to rein in Spectrum since his first day in Congress.
“The first bill I introduced was the Transparency for Cable Consumers Act, which would require companies like Spectrum to disclose certain information about their business practices and Spectrum and their army of lobbyists have fought tooth and nail to prevent my legislation from moving forward,” he said. “There’s nobody that wants Claudia Tenney to return to Congress more than Spectrum Cable because she did their bidding as a member of Congress and took their money for campaign contributions.”
Charter Communications gave Tenney $5,000 in 2018, according to opensecrets.org.
Federal Election Commission documents showed that from March 21, 2017 to June 30, 2018, Tenney’s campaign received $15,000 from Charter Communications.
A search of FEC filings showed no Charter contributions to Brindisi.
Defunding the police
In light of recent protests across the country of police brutality, protesters have called for shifting money from police agencies to other community services.
“He’s voted for defunding the police, which is not popular,” Tenney said. “He doesn’t stand up to a lot of the violence that’s going on around the communities.”
“That’s a lie,” Brindisi said. “I have spoken publicly against the violent protests and I support both police reform and the right of people to peacefully protest. I’m also the sponsor of a bill entitled Defund Cities that Defund the Police Act, which would penalize cities that abolish or defund the police.”
The Affordable Care Act
The act adopted in March 2010 expanded access to insurance coverage, aimed to curb rising health costs and increase consumer insurance protection.
“He (Brindisi) claimed that he was going to replace or fix Obamacare somehow, he’s done nothing to fix that,” Tenney said.
“I have voted twice now to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, unlike my opponent who voted to strip protections for people with pre-existing conditions and took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the health care industry,” Brindisi said. “The bills that I have supported in the house to support health care are being blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
H.R.3 Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act
The bill passed the House and was received in the Senate. It would aim to lower prescription drug prices through fair negotiation, create drug price transparency and provide dental, vision and hearing coverage under the Medicare program.
Tenny said the bill would take over the pharmaceutical industry and “make it almost impossible for them to use the money they have for R and D (research and development) to develop vaccines for important viruses and things that we’re facing today.”
However, she said that she did support monitoring pharmaceutical companies to make sure they weren’t taking advantage of people.
Brindis said he supported the bill in an effort to reduce high drug costs.
“I think the cost of prescription drugs is far too high in this country and HR3 would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors and it would cap out of pocket expenses for drug costs,” he said. “Why would someone be opposed to that?”