NY-22 Minute: Former Congressman Michael Arcuri Dissects NY-22 Race By Luke Perry
This piece is the second part of an interview conducted earlier this month with Michael Arcuri, former Democratic Representative from NY-24 (now NY-22). The first segment focused on lessons learned winning and losing the seat between 2006 and 2010. This segment focuses on key considerations for this year’s campaign.
Arcuri contends that Congressional politics has become “more about being reelected than getting anything done.” “Working together used be an asset,” but times have changed and so have districts, thanks to gerrymandering. The key question facing Representative Tenney is “what have you done for the district?”
Arcuri believes Anthony Brindisi “has all the tools he needs.” The best electoral path is to show independence. Tenney’s “old district (in the state legislature) was so Republican.” This is less the case in NY-22.
“Getting the independence party endorsement will be significant,” Arcuri explained. Endorsement by Republicans, such as Richard Hanna (former NY-22 Representative), would also be helpful with independents.
Arcuri wonders how helpful Chuck Schumer, whom he described as “a great campaigner,” will be. When Arcuri first ran, Dick Cheney came to the district and campaigned, which didn’t help Republicans. Conversely, Arcuri believes that Bill Clinton stumping for him was an asset.
This raises the question of whether Donald Trump will campaign for Tenney and if so, if this will be helpful or hurtful. Arcuri stated that Trump “represents part of America” and “people like him.” At the same time, he has traveled overseas in the past year, and “America’s reputation is in the toilet.”
Geographically, both candidates will prioritize winning their home county (Oneida). Beyond that, Arcuri believes Herkimer County is “the center of the district.” A Democratic House candidate “has to keep it close or win it.”
Arcuri won Herkimer when he was first elected in 2006, but didn’t it in 2008, and was “crushed” in 2010. He believes Herkimer “votes for who they know.” A Democrat can win in Cortland and Broome County, Chenango County will be “tough” as will Oswego County. Madison County "will be interesting because it goes back and forth.”
In terms of political attitudes, Arcuri believes the country “is more polarized than ever.” This means “Republican turnout will be linked to anti-Cuomo sentiment.” People who vote against the governor will vote for Claudia Tenney.
The stronger candidate Republicans can recruit to challenge Cuomo, the better for Tenney. Early efforts haven’t been encouraging as potential contenders have bowed out.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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