NY-22 Minute: 5 Reasons Tenney May Become Trump Appointee By Luke Perry
The closely contested NY-22 race has been in the national spotlight this year. The operating assumption is that Representative Claudia Tenney will run for reelection and face Anthony Brindisi in November. This is to be expected, but Tenney may be in prime position to become a political appointee of President Trump.
Here are five reasons why:
1) Many key positions in the Executive Branch remain unfilled.
The majority of 600 key executive branch jobs remain vacant. Three months into Trump’s presidency, 85 percent of key executive branch positions were unfilled and the president had yet to nominate someone. Trump “lagged far behind recent administrations” in nominations and confirmations. Politico reported that the Russia investigation was deterring potential appointees.
This would not deter Representative Tenney, who has echoed Trump’s claim that the investigation is a “hoax.” “The media is just obsessed with Russia,” Tenney explained, and will “continue to try to find any scrap they can.” Tenney believes this is “absurd” as is “screaming about this collusion for a year and they’ve yet to come up with anything.” (17:50 mark)
2) Turnover has been a norm of the Trump presidency.
There have already been Cabinet resignations, including Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services) and significant White House reshuffling, including Michael Flynn (National Security Adviser), Sean Spicer (Press Secretary) Reince Priebus (Chief of Staff), and Steve Bannon (Chief Strategist), to name a few. The average length of service for a Cabinet position is two to three years with variance per post. There is likely to be additional turnover this year.
3) Representative Tenney has been a loyal supporter of President Trump.
President Trump has explicitly requested loyalty from Executive Department officials. Trump has also held unusual televised Cabinet meetings where each Secretary paid tribute to him. This means that for candidates to join the administration they must be tightly aligned with the president.
According to FiveThirtyEight Congress Tracker, Claudia Tenney has voted in line with Trump’s policy positions 97 percent of the time. This included voting for The Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which divided New York House Republicans, and supporting the president’s positions on signature issues, such as healthcare (examples here, here, and here) and immigration (examples here and here).
Most recently, Representative Tenney praised Trump’s first State of the Union (examples here and here) and defended his claim that Democrats who did not stand during the speech were “un-American” and do not love the country.
4) Representative Tenney has been active and supportive of President Trump on cable news networks.
Much has been reported about President Trump’s television habits and affinity for cable news networks. Representative Tenney has been a frequent interviewee throughout her first term. This has included CNN, MSNBC, and numerous appearances on Fox News (see here, here, here, here, here, and here). Tenney has used this platform to critisize Democrats and support President Trump’s leadership and policy positions.
5) A historically high number of GOP House Incumbents are not running for reelection.
The president’s party typically loses seats during his/her first midterm. Lower presidential popularity typically correlates with higher losses. There is concern that the GOP may face a Democratic wave in 2018.
At the beginning of this month, 34 House Republicans stated they would not run for reelection, a record level. This exceeds the exodus of House Democrats in 1994 prior to losing control of the House for the first time in four decades.
Trey Gowdy recently became the ninth committee chair person to step down, an equally remarkable development given the power and influence chairs have.
It would not be surprising for Trump supporters in Congress to join his administration if the opportunity presented itself, particularly in “toss up” races, like NY-22.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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