NY-22 Minute: Healthcare Dominates First Coffee with Claudia By Luke Perry
I spoke with a random sample of 30 constituents at Claudia Tenney’s New Hartford district office who participated in “Coffee with Claudia” this morning between 9:00am and 12:30pm.
Healthcare was clearly the top concern. 50 percent raised the issue with Ms. Tenney. 80 percent of those people were critical of her handling of healthcare. Other issues constituents raised were: climate change, refugees, immigration, taxes, debt, and Russia.
62 percent of the constituents sampled were women. 38 percent were men. Most appeared to be 60 years of age or older. The originally scheduled time of 9:00am to 11:00am on a Tuesday falls within typical work hours for most. Many of the constituents I spoke with were retired or semi-retired.
Ms. Tenney was described by her critics as “combative” and “unsympathetic.” Some felt Tenney “lectured” them on healthcare, told them to read the bill, and claimed she understood the bill, not the media. One woman who felt this way stated “that was disgusting” to no one in particular as she left the office.
Many wanted to be calm and reasonable in visiting with Ms. Tenney, but observed tensions flaring with other constituents and at times, Ms. Tenney. Some constituents brought letters with more detailed thoughts on their issues of importance.
There were about 20 peaceful protesters outside near the road. Some motorists honked in support when driving by. Several constituents I spoke with inside wanted Ms. Tenney to know they were not paid protesters. Some belonged to Indivisible and Knit the District.
Supporters of Ms. Tenney I spoke with believed that one term is not enough time to prove oneself. One believed that government spending and debt was out of control. Another had questions about climate change and healthcare. She was satisfied with Ms. Tenney’s response and stated, for instance, that Ms. Tenney had done a good job explaining why the Paris Climate Accord was not in America’s interest.
Ms. Tenney explicitly told two constituents I spoke with that she would do a town hall in Cortland. Security was previously cited as a concern of Ms. Tenney’s, but aside from occasional check-in’s by local police, there did not appear to be any extra security precautions (as seen above at 9am). One constituent asked a police officer if he expected unrest. The answer was “no.”
Tomorrow I will provide deeper analysis of what I heard and observed inside one of the sessions with Ms. Tenney as she discussed healthcare, immigration, education, and more.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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