NY-22 Minute: Brindisi's Approach to Issues By Luke Perry
Anthony Brindisi has repeatedly stated he wants to focus on issues and work on lots of different ones, yet has mostly stuck to generalities. This is evident on the stump and on his campaign website, which lacks an issues page.
Mr. Brindisi’s approach to issues thus far has demonstrated a mix of three things. First, Brindisi supports elements of the Obama presidency. Most notably, he has vocally opposed GOP efforts to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act.
Second, Brindisi is willing to raise concerns that aren’t conventional campaign issues, such as internet privacy. Whether this has traction with voters is unclear.
Third, Brindisi has largely refrained from attacking President Trump, instead demonstrating a selective willingness to confront the president. For instance, Brindisi was recently “offended” by Trump’s comments to The Wall Street Journal. “When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state,” Trump said, “you can leave, it’s OK, don’t worry about your house.”
"Instead of telling this community that the answer to all our problems is to pick up our lives and families to move far away,” Brindisi responded, “President Trump should be doing what he promised and help us create jobs here at home.”
Brindisi has avoided making his NY-22 campaign about Trump, mindful of his popularity in the district last November. At the same time, he remains in danger of replicating the Democratic downfall in 2016: not effectively explaining what they’re for.
Recent polling found that 52 percent of Americans think Democrats “just stand against Donald Trump,” while just 37 percent believe they “stand for something.”
One certainty of the Trump presidency is that the Reagan Revolution is over. Barack Obama moved the country to the left. Republicans responded with Donald Trump, who emulates Andrew Jackson, a populist Democrat.
The 2018 midterms will begin to pit Obama’s governing vision against Trump’s governing vision. Brinidisi will have to articulate where he stands. As a Democrat, Brindisi aligns more with Obama, but has distanced himself from addressing gun violence, a priority of Obama's administration.
This is what moderate candidates seek to do; not define themselves too closely with either party, at times borrowing from each. Still, Brindisi needs to increasingly define himself through issues before his opponents do it for him, as he starts getting hit from the left, as well as the right. Boilerplate Democratic platitudes will not be enough.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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