NY-22 Minute: Hotel Utica Site of Today's Fundraiser With President Trump By Luke Perry
President Donald Trump is coming to Utica today to raise money for Claudia Tenney. The event will begin at 4:30pm and only be open to donors to Representative Tenney. After days of secrecy, Hotel Utica has been confirmed as the location.
Several presidents have been to Utica over time, including prominent ones, such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. Harry Truman was the last in 1948 as part of a whistle-stop campaign tour.
Attending the fundraiser will cost at minimum $1,000. $15,000 purchases access to the reception, a roundtable, and photo with the president. Tenney has stated the event will be among the least expensive fundraisers undertaken by the president. No comprehensive assessments are available, though some anecdotal examples of Trump fundraisers (here, here & here) suggest the statement may be accurate.
Tenney also claimed the event was not sold out as of late last week. It remains to be seen how many state and local Republican officials will attend. Tenney has engendered tensions with some GOP leaders, most notably Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. Paying $1,000 upfront for an event lacking details can be challenging for party loyalists, irrespective of individual attitudes toward Tenney.
Anthony Brindisi’s campaign has criticized the cost of the fundraiser and organized their own fundraiser in Utica following the President's event. This morning, Brindisi said it was “sad that the average person in our district could buy a car for what it costs to attend the event with the president. I think that’s outrageous.”
Trump held a campaign rally in nearby Rome in April of 2016, which approximately 5,000 people attended. In July of 2017, the president prompted bipartisan criticism from political leaders in upstate New York after suggesting New Yorkers should leave the area to find work.
The President's visit should help Representative Tenney close her fundraising gap with Brindisi. As I recently explained, Tenney has sought to nationalize the race by pitting Donald Trump versus Nancy Pelosi, which could have some traction in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats. At the same time, Trump’s popularity has declined in upstate New York since Election Day, so there is inherent risk to this strategy as well.
This will be President Trump's first visit upstate since taking office. Indivisible Mohawk Valley, a liberal grassroots organization, plans to peacefully protest at Liberty Bell Park, in front of Hotel Utica, which looks to be its largest to date.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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