Article originally written at Binghamton Political Buzz on April 21, 2016, by Michael “Vass” Vasquez.
In Kirkwood, NY, a small joint meeting of the Broome County Sportsmen’s Association and the Southern Tier SCOPE had the added benefit of hearing from one of the New York 22nd congressional district candidates. On April 20, 2016, candidate George Phillips attended the event, which was not announced to the news media, to share his views on the race.
The event at the headquarters of the Broome County Sportsmen’s Club, drew some almost 2 dozen members of both organizations. It started at 7 PM and Mr. Phillips was the second speaker at the event after a spokesman for the Wendy Long for Senate campaign had spoken. Ms. Long is running against Sen. Charles “Chuck” Schumer, who has been in the Senate for 17 years.
Mr. Phillips went into his now familiar stump speech with ease. Dressed far more informally than in other events, Mr. Phillips again recounted his occupation as a history teacher, the fact his brother left the Southern Tier due to economic challenges, and other general statements he has said in every speech he has made that has been recorded by all news media thus far in the race. The 2 key talking points of every speech and radio interview, his work for the Jack Kemp Foundation and the loss in 2010 to Democrat and then-Rep. Maurice Hinchey, were clearly stated once again.
A difference in this stump speech was his discussion of issues that were prevalent in the past but without context in 2016 (Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act passed in 2003 and 99 weeks of unemployment which ended Dec 2013), the Economic Freedom Zones proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (introduced in 2015, with 1 cosponsor and considered a dead Bill), and the 2nd Amendment. Phillips noted that he is an advocate of gun Rights. He mentioned his expectation of gaining an NRA rating of A [ratings from the NRA are now percentages, since 2012]. Mr. Phillips has not been rated by the NRA, or any 2nd Amendment organization since his run in 2010, in part reflecting the fact he has not spoken publicly nor publicly written in defense of the 2nd Amendment for more than 6 years.
When we asked Mr. Phillips about this void in public statements and further clarified the question to the timeframe specifically to the 6 years since his last congressional run, he responded stating,
“I’ve gone where I’ve been invited… I speak on the Constitution everyday to my students… My priority is certainly my family, I’ve got 3 boys. So I get to things I can…”
Tom Da Brita, a representative of Southern Tier SCOPE at the meeting grilled Mr. Phillips a bit in a series of rapid fire questions about the exact connection Mr. Phillips has to firearms and the gun restriction legislation affecting over 5 million residents of New York State. The exchange was as follows,
“Do you have a NY State Pistol License?
George Phillips: I do not.
Do you have a hunting license?
George Phillips: No.
Do you shoot trap?
George Phillips: No.
George Phillips: No.”
The last time Mr. Phillips received a rating by any organization on the 2nd Amendment was in 2010. He was rated A by the NRA, and 90% by the Gun Owners of America. NY-22 candidates Martin Babinec (Ind); David Gordon (Dem); Legislator Kim Myers (Dem); David Pasick (Lib); and Steve Wells (Rep) all have no cited ratings by any 2nd Amendment organization at any time. Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, seen by many as the frontrunner in the congressional race, was most recently rated 93% by the NRA and 100% by the NRA Political Victory Fund in 2014 [ again, ratings were changed from letters to percentages in 2012]. The Gun Owners of America rated Tenney 90% in 2014, which was also the year that SCOPE NY celebrated Assemblywoman Tenney as their Legislator of the Year.
** CORRECTION – In the video Steve Wells is quoted as having $191,000 cash in hand – that is an error. According to FEC filings he raised $362,064 in the 2016 first quarter, and has $258,429 in cash at this time. George Phillips raised $60,000 but after disbursements has $126,243 cash on hand for the same time period. We accurately reported that Claudia Tenney raised $115,567, and has $136,425 in cash on hand.
The $191,000 mentioned in the video is in fact the individual contributions to Legislator Kim Myers, one of 2 Democrats in the race – who raised $230,517 and currently has $228,457 cash in hand.
We apologize for our error in confusing the dollar amounts. **