NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Distances Himself From National Focus By Luke Perry
Anthony Brindisi recently provided a statement regarding his approach to issues, the topic of a previous NY-22 Minute. “I am not focusing on national messages,” Brindisi explained via e-mail. “The message I am interested in is the message I hear when I am on the road talking to people in this district. What I hear loud and clear is that folks are not satisfied with their current representative and want a representative that listens to them and not the special interests in D.C.”
This comes against the backdrop of the Democratic Party recently releasing a new policy agenda entitled “A Better Deal.” The mission of the party is to “help build an America in which working people know that somebody has their back.” Three main areas of focus are to: 1) increase jobs and wages; 2) lower the cost of living for families; and 3) give working Americans the tools and training to succeed in today’s economy.
These overlap with the policy focus articulated by Mr. Brindisi. “Since I have launched my campaign,” Brindisi explained, “I’ve listened to people in coffee shops, farmers markets, small businesses and community centers. They are focused on creating more good paying jobs in this region, keeping their health care, social security, and 401K strong, making sure their child has access to a good public education and their personal information isn’t sold over the internet to the highest bidder. My message is it’s time to put an independent voice in this congressional seat who can actually get things done.”
The 2016 presidential election loss provides a backdrop for understanding “A Better Deal” and Democrats approach to the 2018 midterm in general. “When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” Minority Leader Schumer stated.
“So what did we do wrong?” asked Schumer. People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.” Democrats believe economic issues are central. “That’s where the American people are hurting,” Schumer explained “That’s what we most felt was missing in the past in the last several elections.”
Who is the target? Moderate Republicans. Democratic Congressional leaders launched the proposal in Virginia’s 10th district, where Barbara Comstock (R) was narrowly reelected last year while Hillary Clinton won the district by 10 points. Moderate Republicans will be crucial in the NY-22 race. Brindisi’s path to victory depends on moderates and independents breaking his way.
National observers are beginning to rethink Democratic enthusiasm as midterm campaigns begin. The Democratic Party has become increasingly divided between moderate and progressive factions (see here and here), in part over “A Better Deal” (examples here, here and here).
Any campaign adviser would tell NY-22 candidates to focus on local issues. What is a bit surprising is how quickly both Brindisi and Claudia Tenney have rhetorically distanced themselves from their party. Tenney has repeatedly referenced the lack of support she has received from GOP county committees and recently asserted she doesn’t take political cues from President Trump.
Hyper partisanship is undoubtedly a problem, creating gridlock, division, distrust, and animosity. At the same time, the issues raised thus far have both local and national dimensions, including healthcare, climate change, taxes, and education. Like political parties and democracy, local and national issues are not easily separated. This looks to be an interesting subplot as the race unfolds.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
Read the NY-22 Minute for timely and comprehensive analysis of the campaign.