It would seem that the cat is out of the bag. Now that Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney has announced her decision to run for the New York 22nd Congressional District on November 17, 2015, the pressure has mounted for all other candidates in that race. In rapid succession the other potential and rumored candidates for the 2016 primary and election are making statements about the future.
Michael “Vass” Vasquez, who ran in 2014 and withdrew from the race to to support Tenney, announced November 18, 2015, the decision not to run – eliminating the prospect of a 3-way Republican race that would have benefited incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna and any potential Democrat challenger. The office of Rep. Hanna called into the WUTQ talk show Talk of the Town in response to Mr. Vasquez’s comments on-air, to state that Rep. Hanna will make a decision if he will run after Thanksgiving without further comment. As for the Democrat challenger, long held rumors that Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi will enter the race seem to have been confirmed as of November 19, 2015.
Rep. Hanna has long been known as a self-described moderate (though he ran in 2014 as the “true conservative”), who has on multiple occasions supported Democrat legislation, Executive Orders by President Obama, and attacked the Republican Party that is his political party. Notably Rep. Hanna has pushed to support the Democrat Party, support late-term abortion and Planned Parenthood (who made political donations to Hanna’s election campaigns in 2012 and 2014 – the only Republican to receive such financial support), and the recent national spotlight on his comments essentially defending presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of her appearance before the Benghazi Commission last month. The totality of these votes and actions have led many to categorize Rep. Hanna as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), as well as place pressure on whether or not he will run for re-election.
Another option that has also been proposed is that Rep. Hanna may reject the Republican Party and run as a spoiler on the Independence Party line. As the Daily Kos stated on November 17, 2015,
“In 2014 Hanna won the Independence Party’s nomination (New York allows candidates to accept multiple parties’ nominations) and if he does the same thing this cycle, he’ll have a spot on the general election ballot. If Democrats don’t field a candidate, Hanna would likely emerge as the de facto Democratic nominee.”
As for the Democrats, they failed to present any challenge in 2014. Democrats abandoned their voters and had no voice in the race, effectively making the 2014 Republican primary the general election in that year. Facing embarrassment if they do not field a candidate again, Broome County Democrat Chairman James Testani stated that several candidates are being considered given the difficulty of the size of the NY-22 and the need for campaign financing. Chairman Testani stated that he expected an answer to be made in a month, which would place the announcement in January 2016. But other news reports has indicated that Assemblyman Anthony Brindisis will be the Democrat choice if Rep. Richard Hanna does not switch Party affiliations. This would confirm our reporting in March 2015,
“The announcement on March 2, 2015 by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi may well be the on-switch for the Democrat election machine… Even with the “politically schizophrenic” voting of Rep. Hanna, Democrats felt the pressure to replace the red patch in the middle of blue New York… If that hypothesis is correct, then Assemblyman Brindisi has signaled his intent to run for Congress… In fact, besides the instant media attention on this one action, what else has Assemblyman Brindisi done worthy of the attention of all 770,000 resident of the NY-22?”
Assemblyman Brindisi has stated his reason to potentially enter the race is simply because he feels a Republican primary battle will open a door of opportunity. In a National Journal article he mistakenly presents the NY-22 as a moderate district, which is refuted by the Rothenberg political report, and the Cook political report, and indicates that the chance for success for Democrats lies in the potential competition of Republicans; though not in any benefit of Democrat positions.
“Brindisi abides by the adage that the enemy of his enemy is his friend. His interest isn’t solely based on the district’s competitive partisan divide, he said: It’s because if Tenney upset the congressman in the primary, it would give the Democrats a strong chance to win.”
Of course Assemblyman Brindisi would be remiss to attack Rep. Hanna outright. If Rep. Hanna switched parties his words would come back to haunt him. In addition, the question of his mutual support for the Griffiss International Airport drone testing site – that has resulted in the creation of 6 jobs at the cost of over $6 million in taxpayer dollars – would be in question as well.
Thus all the major players of the 2016 NY-22 congressional race seem to be in place. Republicans are poised to have the choice of 3rd most moderate Republican in Congress, Rep. Richard Hanna, or Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. Democrats could have Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, if he can surmount the challenge of campaign financing, or oddly enough, they may well have the chance at the very same Republican incumbent to represent them. In the end voters will make clear their opinion of the candidates in the June primaries and general election in 2016.
** Correction – the Daily Kos article was incorrectly shown as being written November 17, 2014. The article was written on that day in 2015. **