NY-22 Minute: Declaration Day By Luke Perry
This series will provide regular insights on the House Race in NY-22 until Election Day.
Anthony Brindisi formally declared his candidacy yesterday morning in downtown Utica. Incumbency advantage and President Trump are two key variables in preliminary analysis of Brindisi’s challenge to Claudia Tenney.
If I were Tenney, I would be concerned about Democrats having their strongest contender in the race. Many Democrats, and even some moderate Republicans, have been hoping Brindisi would run. Tenney is still in a commanding position as the incumbent, but has slowly healed divisions from her contested primary and selectively embodied a conservative talk radio persona that turns off moderates.
I would also be concerned about Sherwood Boehlert’s Op-Ed in the Observer Dispatch that argued defunding Planned Parenthood is "short-sighted" and "destructive." Tenney’s vote for the American Healthcare Act is now at odds with Boehlert, who is held in high regard after representing the area as a moderate House Republican for 23 years.
If I were Brindisi, I would be concerned about the demographics of the audience during his announcement. By the looks of it, his closest supporters appeared to be mostly white and middle aged. This was striking in the heart of Utica.
Hillary Clinton won African-Americans by 80 points and Hispanics by 36 points. 1 in 4 Utica residents are African-American, Hispanic, or Latino. These groups won’t vote for Tenney in large numbers, but if they’re not fully engaged, they won’t vote in large numbers, and she still wins.
I would also be concerned about doing things as usual in a political environment where norms are rapidly collapsing. The speech was sound and delivered smoothly. That said, there was little that separated it from countless similar announcements.
We’re just six months into the Trump administration. This isn’t 2006 when Michael Arcuri, the last Democrat to hold the seat, benefited from backlash after six years of the Bush presidency. Creativity and moblization will be vital for Democrats to overcome being outnumbered in the district.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.