It would seem that the apparent Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 NY 22nd Congressional District race, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, is confused. Either that, or one of the rumors about the Republican incumbent, Rep. Richard Hanna, could be true.
Just 3 days ago on November 19, 2015, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi responded to the news that Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is the now the first candidate for the Republican nomination to the NY-22 seat. Tenney made the announcement on Tuesday in a press conference at the steps of the Old Broome County Courthouse in Binghamton, NY followed by interviews in Sherburne, NY and Utica, NY. 2014 candidate Michael “Vass” Vasquez announced his support of Tenney on November 18, 2015 in front of the Binghamton, NY office of incumbent Rep. Hanna.
In an article with the National Journal on November 19, 2015, Anthony Brindisi stated that he is “considering entering the race.” The reason for his entry in the race as stated in the article is,
“It’s because if Tenney upset the congressman in the primary, it would give the Democrats a strong chance to win.” – Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi
A mere day earlier than the National Journal article, Broome County Democrat Chairman James Testani told Time Warner Cable News that, “no Democratic candidates have come forward yet”. Further, it was stated that no announcement of a Democrat for the race would be made before mid-December. Obviously Broome County Democrats and those of Oneida County, where Brindisi resides, are not speaking to each other.
But adding to the confusion in the Democrat Party, on November 21, 2015, in an article – Brindisi: No plans to run for Congress at this time – that appears only in the newspaper of the Utica Observer-Dispatch (see photo), Assemblyman Brindisi has suddenly reversed course. The less than headline news quotes Assemblyman Brindisi as stating,
“Right now I’m focused on doing all I can to better represent my constituents. We’ll see what happens.”
Therefore it’s unclear what has happened. There are a couple of possibilities though:
- Assemblyman Brindisi was chided for his statements conflicting with Chairman Testani, and forced to reverse his position until mid-December at the earliest.
- Brindisi wants to run, but is not getting support from Democrats in the Southern Tier, where he is relatively unknown, and decided to reverse his position until he can get that support.
- Brindisi wants to run, but the blowback from his comments in the National Journal indicate that he will lose support in Utica and therefore he is hedging his position to protect his Assembly seat.
- Either directly or indirectly, Rep. Richard Hanna has indicated he will run as a Democrat for the 2016 congressional race.
It is the fourth option that is most interesting. As we reported previously, a Daily Kos article on November 17, 2015, stated,
“If Democrats don’t field a candidate, Hanna would likely emerge as the de facto Democratic nominee.”
With the multiple attacks on the Republican Party, and those in Congress, as well as the support given to Democrat issues over the years, many have wondered if Rep. Hanna would switch political parties at some point. With the significant blowback from Rep. Hanna’s comments supporting Hillary Clinton and attacking the Benghazi Commission – comments that went viral nationally – the potential of switching sides has become even more prevalent. Given the reversal by Assemblyman Brindisi, just days after signaling his intent, it could be that Rep. Hanna has finally decided to jump political ships.
Speculation and rumors always run rampant when there is mass confusion in political parties and candidates in any election race. Gaffes by candidates, or potential candidates, are not new. But in this case 2 significant questions should be asked by the constituents.
First, what is Rep. Richard Hanna? He ran in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate. In 2012, after losing support of Conservatives and the Tea Party, Rep. Hanna ran as a moderate. In 2014, Rep. Hanna suddenly became a “true conservative” when challenged by Claudia Tenney. Yet throughout all this time period he has voted for critical Democrat legislation and supported President Obama’s actions. Besides being a political chameleon, where does Rep. Richard Hanna actually stand?
Second, if Democrats eventually decide to go with Assemblyman Brindisi, as he may or may not want to run, what confidence can voters have about this? If the Democratic Party cannot communicate between Broome County and Oneida County, what confidence can there be in any candidate chosen and the campaign they will run? If Assemblyman Brindisi cannot make a clear decision, or even consistently consider a decision, what confidence can voters have about how he will act on critical issues – like Iran, ISIS, and jobs – if he were to be in Congress?