By Patrick McAuliffe
Binghamton students may not care much for local politics. As seems to be the trend in college-dominated towns, students come for four years to get their education, widely-available booze, and socialization with people their own age before heading out into the world for better opportunities. However, should you, dear reader, care to know how our Congressional district’s candidates stand on current issues beyond the D, R, or L next to their name, I’ve assembled a quick guide on each candidate, their major talking points, and my own impressions of them.
NY-22 extends from Syracuse and the surrounding area all the way down into parts of Broome County, encompassing Binghamton, Vestal, and Johnson City. The incumbent Democrat, Anthony Brindisi, defeated Republican Claudia Tenney in 2018. Tenney had beaten Democrat Kim Myers in 2016. The fact that President Trump also won the 22nd District in 2016 by 55% (to Hillary Clinton’s 39%) is indicative that our district can often flip between the two major parties if a Democratic candidate strikes the right chords with voters. This year, Tenney is running to reclaim her seat for the Republicans, and Keith Price is looking to join Justin Amash (L-MI) as another Libertarian representative in Congress. Where do they stand on the issues of the day?
Claudia Tenney’s major talking point this time around is her association with Trump. Half of her campaign signs that you may see from here to Norwich contain a photo of her and Trump giving a thumbs-up with the text “Claudia: Endorsed by President Trump.” Her campaign website touts her stance on popular hot button issues shared by the President, such as “Jobs and Economy,” “Veterans,” “Second Amendment,” and “Immigration”. Most notably, and a bit hilariously, her top-listed and most extensively flushed-out issue is “China.” I have not seen many of her positive campaign ads, primarily because she only received $1.9 million in campaign contributions compared to Brindisi’s $5.2 million (according to the FEC), but her explanations on the issues from her website give a good indication of what she’ll do in Washington (take note of the wording here). Tenney held office in the New York State Assembly from 2011-2016, and many of her issue blurbs talk about how she co-sponsored such-and-such a bill or fought against such-and-such a measure in the Assembly. There is very little mention about what she actually managed to pass in her two years as NY-22’s representative from ‘16-’18, even in the “Accomplishments” section of the website. This was a period when Republicans held two of three branches of government; any successes she had during this time should surely be trumpeted from the rooftops in what everyone keeps telling me is the mOsT iMpOrTaNt ElEcTiOn EvEr. The most concrete law she seems to have passed is the SPOONSS Act, mandating that the military buy domestically-made flatware from Upstate New York. If that’s all there is to show for her record and not her intentions, we would be forked if she was elected.
Anthony Brindisi has been attacked in ads for Tenney as “too liberal” or supporting “defunding the police”, but his website has no indication of this. He touts his bipartisanship at every turn, from claiming that his every bill in the House has a Republican co-sponsor, to standing against King Cuomo’s SAFE Act in the Assembly (in Brindisi’s words, “because it was a bad law”), where he served from 2012-2018. Brindisi has a few overlapping issues that he shares some common ground with Tenney on, such as “Second Amendment,” “Veterans,” “Social Security and Medicare,” and “Healthcare,” but his list of issues is much more expansive. In addition, instead of having to click multiple tabs for each issue and each accomplishment, Brindisi gives both his stance and what he’s done about it for his many topics of interest. Were there not three candidates on this ballot, I would probably vote for him.
Keith Price is running as a Libertarian candidate for our district. He worked at SUNY Broome while attending school there, working up from dishwasher to head cook, as reported by the Utica Observer-Dispatch. His wife got him interested in Libertarianism, and he has run for several local offices. There isn’t much online about his platform or where he stands on specific issues, so I reached out to his Facebook page directly. Keith answers his messages punctually, and to summarize his campaign, he stated: “Government transparency, accountability, and fiscal honestly [sic].” As a response to the pandemic, he is also campaigning for an “income and payroll tax holiday to bring immediate economic relief.” He has held several events all around the district, usually in conjunction with Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor in 2018. He may be a relative unknown in the race compared to the duopoly candidates, but an ideology based on government reduction and accountability and an endorsement from Larry is enough to convince me.
Take time to do your own research before Election Day on these three candidates. The Cook Political Report rates this election as a toss-up, and the historical flip-flop from the last few election cycles proves the volatility of NY-22. Look beyond the letter after each candidate’s name, dig into what each person plans to do about the issues affecting our area, and cast your informed ballot with confidence. Interviews, press releases, social media, podcasts – they’re all available to you. We’ll see you on the other side.