With a little under 18 months to go, the New York 22 Congressional District race is heating up already. This District was in the Top 10 races to watch in both 2016 and 2018. The outlook for 2020 is that it too will be among the most expensive and eye-catching among politicos if not the public.
In the crosshairs
In 2018, Anthony Brindisi (Democrat) won the seat in a contested battle that went down to the wire. The race was so close with then-incumbent Claudia Tenney (Republican), that absentee ballots were the final determining factor. The outcome was a race decided by just 4,473 votes of the quarter of a million cast. The lack of mandate from the public was tangible.
Fast forward to January 2019, just as Brindisi was being sworn in, the list of challengers started to form. Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell publicly announced his intent to seek another unnamed elected seat in 2020. While it was not explicit, the consensus was clear that he had eyes on Congress. It also meant that he gave up on the 2019 Broome County
District Attorney race – creating a Republican Primary in his wake.
From that soft launch of a campaign, and the change in election rules for New York State, a flurry of activity started beneath the waves. In March, George Phillips became the first official declared candidate to challenge Brindisi. Mr. Phillips had previously tried 3 times to win the NY-22 seat since 2008. He too was from Broome County, and he came with not just the announcement but $50,000 in campaign donations.
Separately from the growing crowd of challengers, an unknown also entered the race. Touting an almost entirely online campaign effort, Franklin Sager claimed a spot in the race. Never involved in politics previously, Sager currently shows just $100 in campaign donations and a personal loan of $2196. Curiously he too is another Southern Tier resident.
Not to be outdone, one more potential candidate has since surfaced. On May 8th a series of residents across the Southern Tier of the NY-22 started to receive a phone survey. That survey was focused on 3 people: Claudia Tenney, George Phillips, and current Binghamton Mayor Rich David.
The internal poll appears to have been conducted by Public Opinion Research, from around May 8 – May 10. It is unclear but residents in Broome and Chenango Counties appear to have been contacted for the poll. The results of this popularity poll are also unknown at this time.
This is curious as emails requesting comment we sent on May 9, 2019 to Mayor David on this matter have yet to receive a response. But as of May 1st, the online domain RichDavidforCongress.com was purchased by an unknown buyer, as reported by News 34. Mayor David reportedly told the news station that “he did not register the domain name nor did he authorize its creation.”
Currently Mayor David holds his office until 2021, a year after the next congressional election – which will coincide with the presidential race. Given that the new regulations put in place by Gov. Cuomo and passed by the single Party majority of Democrats in State Government require petitions to start to be circulated in late February/March, an announcement would have to come by the end of 2019. Realistically by the end of the Summer 2019.
All of this could very well be moot. While many Republicans (not to mention the now officially recognized Libertarian Party) are highly eager to take on Rep. Brindisi, who is seen as weak, there is one name that could change all the fundraising and media math. Former Congresswoman Tenney. At this time no one is clear if she will or won’t run again.
Given the slight margin in 2018, and relationships already forged in Washington DC, what Tenney wants to do is critical to what will happen next. If she chooses to run, her existing base of supporters and her ability to raise the millions needed to run against the newish incumbent, could drive off most if not all the Republican challengers.
At the same time, it is possible that several more challengers may not wait to learn the answer. Broome County is only one of 8 Counties in the NY-22. The Republican heavy District isn’t put off by the 5 Bills with a total of 16 co-sponsors that are the hallmark of effectiveness of Rep. Brindisi. Even less so after news of the sex for hire of a 17 year old by long-term staffer of the Brindisi office. It appears that the NY-22 race isn’t about the Democrat holding the seat as much as who will be the Republican that will topple him.