Published on May 18, 2016 at Binghamton Political Buzz by Michael “Vass” Vasquez
On May 17, 2016, NY-22 congressional candidate Steve Wells raised the question of quantity as a factor in the 8 County-wide race. With that question, stated on WUTQ’s Talk of the Town program as well as in negative campaign ads, also raised is a concurrent question that must be asked – what quantities are a factor in the congressional race.
Before the question can be answered, what are the parameters of the question must be determined. What specific quantity is to be considered? Number of years in elected office? Number of elections won or lost? Number of legislation proposed and/or passed? Number of public statements made on issues affecting the public?
Those are all good criteria to judge a candidate or incumbent seeking (re-)election. None were the reason offered by Steve Wells on the morning talk program, nor in the attack ads of the anyone-but-Tenney Grow the Economy SuperPAC . Instead Mr. Wells focused on the singular point of attendance, with a very specific timeframe, equating elected office with grade school.
“This year she [Assemblywoman Tenney] has missed 56 votes campaigning.”
But what if we treat all candidates the same, and ask the questions of quantity of each candidate? What if we made an apples to apples comparison to put this into context, as opposed to the out-of-context approach of Mr. Wells? It’s something that few campaigns are willing to do, but since it has been raised it should be covered for voters.
In reference to attendance, only Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and Legislator Kim Myers apply to the question. Steve Wells has never held an elected position, and his volunteer position in the NY State Republican Party does not have public votes or attendance. Both George Phillips and David Pasich are teachers and their attendance in those institutions does not factor. Mr. Phillips was appointed as a Broome County Legislator (a position he later resigned from) but those records require a FOIA and were not available in time for this article.
That leaves Legislator Myers and Assemblywoman Tenney. Records available without FOIA from Broome County Legislature cover 2015 and 2016 to-date. In that time, Legislator Myers missed 13 votes so far in 2016 (10% of votes). In 2015 she also missed 13 votes (3.4% of votes).
As stated by Assemblywoman Tenney on WUTQ on May 17, 2016, she has missed 4% of days required to be at the Assembly since elected in 2010.
“I missed a day on June 19th , which was last day of session. We voted on 500 votes on that day… my mother was sick and I left… she was very sick in 2014 and ultimately died in 2015… that day I voted on my committee meeting and rushed back to be with my mother… I made them all up as we are allowed to do with a paper ballot.”
This includes the alleged votes missed claimed by the Grow The Economy Super PAC – except the source noted by the PAC is listed as NYPIRG (a left leaning organization). Review of the NYPIRG site brought up 2 documents on Claudia Tenney both from 2010 and neither addressing votes or attendance. According to VoteSmart.org, Assemblywoman Tenney missed 8 key votes out of 37 (22%) between 2011 and to-date; which includes 4 votes on June 19, 2014 – when Tenney dealt with family medical issues.
But what of the other questions? Like number of years in elected office? Steve Myers has none, which matches Libertarian David Pasich. George Phillips has never been elected to office, but held an appointed position as Legislator for 9 months. Legislator Kim Myers has been in elected office for 20 years, 18 on the Vestal School Board and 2 in the Broome County Legislature. Claudia Tenney was elected to the NYS Assembly in 2010 and continues to hold that position at this time.
Moving on to the quantity of Bills introduced, David Pasich and Steve Wells again have nothing to present. George Phillips may have introduced Bills to the Legislature, but due to the span of time since that may have been done a FOIA request is required to determine if this occurred and is thus beyond the scope of this article.
It should be noted that according to the Broome County Legislature 2nd Deputy, Robert O’Donnell, whom we contacted in researching this article, it is uncommon for members of the County Legislature to introduce Bills. They normally are presented Bills from other agencies and then are voted on. Thus Kim Myers also shows no current Bills introduced, but may exist if a FOIA is requested.
Finally there is Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney’s record. We have found, in contrast to claims by Steve Wells made on WNBF on May 12, 2016, that no Bills have been introduced, in fact that 74 Bills were presented to the Assembly. Further a total of 737 Bills were co-sponsored by Tenney thus far – which addresses the claims she does not work with others.
Of course the valid argument can be made that elected office is not about the quantity of elections won, years in office, votes taken, Bills introduced, or even the number of Bills passed. To be fair, those who have never held an elected office should not be compared on such criteria as they have nothing to offer. But by his public attack raising the question of quantity, Mr. Wells demands in-context comparisons to be made, as out-of-context comparisons should not be presented to the public as it misrepresents the choices available. That being given, the question of quality should be addressed in some manner for voters as well.
The problem with that is quality is subjective when it comes to elections, votes, and candidates. There is no objective standard or statistics that can be presented to represent quality in politics. Perhaps the only standard that could be offered is what candidates have done when they were not seeking elected office. Using that as a standard we can see the following of the NY-22 candidates.
We are unaware of any public event or speech or activity by David Pasich at any point in the past. No record exists of such an event. Equally, Steve Wells is almost without event. There is one Youtube speech that exists before the current run for Congress, but it addresses how youth should deal with superiors in the workplace and is non-political. But Mr. Wells does have an extensive history of political donations that is public. These include donations to Democrats as well as Republicans, including the donations to Gov. Cuomo who has led the charge against Conservatives and Republicans in NY State as well as spearheading the NY SAFE Act. There is no other public record demonstrating any political position that Mr. Wells maintains prior to his run for Congress.
Legislator Kim Myers also has a low profile. While she was involved with the Vestal School Board for more than a decade, few of those meetings or the issues that the Board addressed are public – such as the audit problems while she was president of the Board. Issues like Common Core (which was initiated in 2009, prior to her election to her County position) show no public comment that we can find. Legislator Myers has been seen with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as a display of support. She is a known multi-millionaire due to her family’s departure from NY State to expand their business, but has not public discussed any effort to allow New Yorkers to share in similar success.
George Phillips has made several speeches since his last run for Congress, prior to his current third try. There are at least 4 confirmed events in the 6 year span, given to local Broome County TEA Party organizations. In addition there is 1 letter to the editor, November 2015, a month prior to his entry into the congressional race. Mr. Phillips indicated that his lack of participation (specifically on 2nd Amendment issues) was due to the failure to be invited to participate.
For Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, it is difficult to separate her activities from her elected office. In the 14 months between the 2014 primary and the announcement of her run for the 2016 congressional seat, she was re-elected to her position as the 101st District representative. Thus she has appeared on talk radio programs (WUTQ, WIBX) consistently in that time. She has also appeared at several 2nd Amendment rallies and events, many coinciding with her legislative efforts to eliminate the NY SAFE Act. She has written several articles addressing concerns about the Trans Pacific Partnership – as appeared in the Washington Times on May 1, 2015 as well as speaking about it in events – among other issues.
All in all, this is an in-context comparison of all the candidates in the NY-22 race. Still no comparison of quantity or attempt at categorizing quality can be done for the masses in a definitive manner. There are far too many issues, and each individual weighs each issue according to their own values. That said, it is unfair and misleading to selectively edit a quantity and isolate a singular candidate, to create a political advantage while obfuscating facts from voters.
** Binghamton Political Buzz does not advocate for any candidate in any election. We seek to provide objective facts and information to allow voters to intelligently determine whatever choice for themselves. To that end, we have and continue to offer all candidates in the 2016 NY congressional election the opportunity to have interviews that will be presented to the public without edit and in full context. **